As part of a study to understand the gaps and challenges in the education system, Sattva conducted a series of interviews with experts and practitioners working to innovate and improve education systems across the country. This is an excerpt from an interview we did with Farida Lambay, the co-founder of Pratham.
Ms. Farida Lambay is the co-founder of Pratham along with Madhav Chavan. She has over 25 years of experience as an educationist and a social worker. She is responsible for Pratham’s programs in Mumbai and Gujarat and has been responsible for several policy level changes in education and child labour.
Gaps in the Education System
Although enrollment rates have consistently been at 96% last 6 years in India, I would say OoSC – child labourers, street children, children in conflict zones, children with disabilities – are still slipping through the cracks. For these children, intense efforts are required to enroll them in the education system and hence the cost per child is also higher than other programs. This is an area where long-term interest and commitment is necessary. You need to secure support services like shelter, healthcare and then finally education for these children. Pratham has a vertical on vulnerable children and donors are always difficult to find in this area. We have rescued 65,000 street children in Mumbai alone.
In order to integrate children with disabilities, schools need extensions in infrastructure, different approaches to teaching etc., all of which requires investment, but might not have a visible outcome immediately.
Caste-related issues still keep children out of school. For example, we have been working with the nomadic Musahari community in Bihar where not even a single child goes to school! The culture is such that the mother brews liquor and the father sells it, while the children stay at home. We started a drop-in centre and now over 200 girls are enrolled in school. Another vulnerable group requiring urgent attention are children affected by natural crises or disasters.
“We have solved the problem of enrollment among the masses, now the gap is in isolated islands.”
Opportunities for intervention by Education CSRs
• Education CSRs can play a significant role in supporting the enrollment of marginalised communities through funding, community mobilisation and support.
• We also need support in building more collaborative platforms where people can learn from each other’s experiences. And it takes consistent effort to engage and sustain the community of practitioners in education.
The Government has significant reach, money and manpower. With the RTE, we have to push the Govt. to reach even further. For scale, corporates should look at planning and working the way the govt. does. And do it in a simple manner so that anyone can take that solution and replicate or scale it. CSRs working on Education can truly help impact the way children are taught in India.
Read more interviews in this series:
- Padmini Somani, Salaam Bombay Foundation, on the importance of working on life skills for improved learning
- Srini Swaminathan: “Technology in the hands of a prepared teacher can transform learning”
For more on the gaps and challenges in the Indian education system, download our booklet now.