Education is the foundation stone for a brighter tomorrow. It is learning that has facilitates growth and builds pathways for future success. However, a nation-wide survey from leading non-profit organisation, Pratham revealed that 40% of children in India drop out of schools by the age of 12.
In India, 250 million children suffer due to lack of quality education and poor learning levels, while 70 million kids under the age of 6 years lack even a basic pre-school learning environment.
Recognising these loopholes as a hinderance to India’s growth and development, we decided to catch-up with social entrepreneurs who are addressing various issues across the education value-chain.
Age Group 3-10
1. Binayak Acharya, Think Zone Pvt. Ltd
Hailing from Odisha, Binayak Acharya after realising the gloomy Human Development Index of his state, decided to accelerate its sustainable development and social equality. He founded Think Zone Pvt. Ltd to help 20 million children aged between 3-10 years, in 65,000 villages of the low-income group states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar.
“Quality education is seen as an opportunity to work and lack of it creates an acute deficiency in the workforce, ultimately leading to massive gender inequality”, states Binayak.
A firm believer in the age-old saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you a feed him for a lifetime’, Binayak is unconditionally implementing the same through his award-winning social impact startup.
Think Zone implements an affordable technology-enabled ‘School-in-a-box’ education-solution to bridge the learning-gap amongst children at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid. Think Zone also creates dignified livelihood opportunities for local women by training and empowering them as educators in their communities.
“Education is the foundation of a healthy and growth-oriented society, and so its development in the underserved areas is very dear to me. Providing a good foundation through quality early-grade education has become my passion. I dream that every Indian child does not just go to school but, also has the minimum learning competencies to succeed in life,” says Binayak.
Using offline technology, standardised proprietary curriculum and class-management tools, they have provided ‘level-based’ quality early-childhood and primary level education for 2,100+ children at under $1/month per child and have simultaneously created income-generating opportunities for 81+ women across remote villages.
With 90% re-enrolments and 10 % dropout rates along with a coverage area of 200+ villages, Think Zone boasts of an operational impact at a substantial level. Their programmes have ensured a 50% increase in the students’ pass-out rates from entry level to the next and have reported 80% on-time fees payments to the entrepreneurs. It has eventually led to the creation of 81 women micro-entrepreneurs, who are now earning from implementing Think Zone’s programmes and have reported a 40% increase in their average family income.
“When we are walking on the right track, our destiny conspires to make us achieve the best and that’s how I joined hands with UnLtd India. UnLtd India has massively contributed to the growth and development of our journey, through the medium of peer learning, feedback and networking opportunities. We are together moving ahead on this journey of making people believe that good education is not only about good teaching but is about good learning!” he concludes.
Age Group 11 -17
- Surender Yadav, Self Reliant India
The future of the nation lies in the hands of its youth. Holding true to this belief, Surender Yadav, an engineer from Vellore Institute of Technology founded Self Reliant India with the view to aid in the progressive development of the country, by creating opportunities for rural India to bridge the gap between the urban and rural population and to facilitate an independent growth of the two sections of our society in the coming future.
“We seek to address the problem of ineffective school environment and unsupportive home and community environment which results in poor student learning outcomes and early dropouts of students belonging to low economic sections,” states Surender.
With a wide experience of working with government schools during his Gandhi Fellowship, Surendar realised that some children who had the potential for academic growth had to drop out of school due to the lack of educational support from all stakeholders.
Surender shares, “In 2015, we collected a data of 120 academically bright students of class 5 from the year 2000 – 2008 from 5 government schools of Jhunjhunu district, and started to reach out to the students from our database to understand their current situation. From that study, we concluded that 55% of students drop out before finishing class 12th and only 2% finished their graduation with appropriate exposure, others graduated with limited exposure.”
These statistics point out to the fact that our current education system is not able to change the lives of students who hail from penury; even if they are academically sound. This problem exists due to the lack of awareness of quality education, lack of school engagement with the School Management Committee (SMC), no incentives for Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to improve education, lack of role models in the community, less involvement of youth in quality education, parental illiteracy, and lack of awareness around community ownership for the Right to Education Act (RTE).
Surender believes that the alignment and engagement among all stakeholders is critical to transforming government schools. “Awareness of quality education alone is not sufficient to nudge in sustainable behavioural change among parents and community towards government schools. It is also about improving the classroom environment, which will create the best teaching practices and thereby create role models among students and teachers. Hence, the sustainability is achievable through the transformation of the school system by engaging and creating role models within stakeholders of government schools,” he shares.
Surender’s vision to transform lives has come a long way through their millennial projects including Nanhe Kalam and Whole School Transformation, which is clear in the improved access to quality education and getting students into Jawahar Navodya School. However, Surender believes that this is just a beginning and there is still a long way to go!
- Prashant Kumar, The Apprentice Project (TAP)
“Learn what you love, teach what you love,” is what Prashant Kumar, Co-Founder of The Apprentice Project firmly believes. With the view to make education an inclusive availability, TAP works with the students in low-income schools who lack the resources, skills, and exposure needed to provide holistic education and life-skills. They are currently working with 13 schools in Pune and preparing to start with a school in Mumbai this year.
TAP stands strong on the cumulative experience of 28 years across diverse industries within the core team of the 3 co-founders including Anand Gopakumar, Monica Pesswani, and Prashant Kumar.
The idea for TAP was initiated during their Teach for India fellowship journey, which gave rise to the idea to create a platform which systematically gives the option to the students to choose to learn what they love, and utilise that inherent motivation to consciously build essential life-skills and exposure in them.
TAP utilises the medium of co-curricular interest clubs to build their essential life-skills. This is enabled through highly-skilled and extremely motivated facilitators who volunteer to teach what they love. The facilitators act as mentors for the students. The teaching is supported by a life-skills based curriculum and utilises a Project Based Learning approach to culminate the learning in a showcase by the students. Besides, there are multiple forms of competitions, events, and other opportunities enabled the students to enhance their learning.
A major boost that helped them take off was UnLtd India. “UnLtd India selected us as a part of the cohort in July. They gave us the much-needed boost in terms of opening connections through its network. Apart from this, the sessions on Theory of Change, Pitching, Budget helped us clarify our understanding on various key aspects to make the organisation robust and stable,” shares Prashant.
So, if you, just like these social entrepreneurs, have the vision to accelerate the growth and development of the country and make this world a better place to live in, you can enroll for UnLtd India’s Incubation Programme to receive year-long personalized coaching along with access to mentors, experts, and peer learning.
Apply here: http://bit.ly/UnLtdForm