Det indiske kunnskapsløftet

Indian authorities have long realized the potential of their large young population, giving Indian children the right to free education. The reform, after it came into force, has been both applauded and reviled. Globally, it can determine whether, even in India's case, one can equate young and promising!

Necessary reform

However, a common comment from the teaching staff of the Indian schools is that those who supervise the children say that they have neither access to a proper playground nor suitable buildings and toilets - facilities required by the Right to Education Act (RTE). . It entitles all Indian children in the age group of six to 14 to free education.

The reform was introduced the same year that the Indian states of Himachal and Tamil Nadu were incorporated into the PISA survey (PISA is an international comparative survey of school systems in different countries). The Indian students then proved to be the second worst, or worst in the world, of all the knowledge tested. And although the students in the two rural Indian states were hardly entirely representative of all their compatriots, the results are bad news for an India that is generally predicted a bright future if they can benefit from their many bright minds.

With the introduction of RTE, however, hope is kindled. But the implementation of the reform varies greatly.

Maturity results in apostasy

The standard of Indian public primary schools therefore does not surprise those appointed by the Indian authorities to monitor the implementation of the RTE reform in the state of Karnataka. They visit schools to check if the pupils get everything they are entitled to according to the reform - including hot lunch.

In Norwegian ears - who have heard about how difficult it is to introduce free school meals in the world's richest countries - the reform sounds almost too good to be true..

"In some schools, for example, there is no separate toilet for girls, as required by the reform. It is very banal, but when the girls can not go to the bathroom, they do not always dare to come to school, and then they end up quitting ».

The same is the reason why uniforms, school books and lunch should be free. If they do not get free food, children from the poorest families may have to choose between being away from school to work and earn money for lunch, or starving at school. And the fear of abuse for those who have a long and desolate school journey can also make them stay at home.

Thus, urge-hungry, hungry and frightened children become part of the drop-out statistics. It has admittedly gone the right way in the last decade. However, just after the introduction of "RTE", the authorities stated that over eight million Indian children of compulsory school age still did not go to school. India's Human Resources Development Minister has stated that Indian school also lacks over one million teachers.

"Attendance is what we strive for the most", confirms principals at several Indian schools. This is aimed at student attendance.

For example - at a school in one of the districts along the coast of the state of Karnataka, it was said: "98 percent of our students are from fishing families, where the parents can not help with homework and would rather have the children at sea."

Secret rights

Among many in India, there is a real perception that awareness raising is crucial for the success of the reform. The poorest in particular know little about their own rights. "Information meetings for parents are often held in the slums. Today, participants are aware of the free schooling that the authorities have introduced. But, in the beginning, it happened that parents after such meetings called the principal and complained that they wanted back what they had paid for school uniforms - a fee that it was now not allowed to collect. "

At many schools, user fees are not the worst thing Indian organizations have revealed, but: children who have to spend school time washing kitchen utensils, toilets and in some cases teachers' cars.

Babylonian trouble

In a country where dozens of languages are used in official contexts, it can be difficult to find a common one for use in the classroom.

Principals at schools often say that the pupils there receive instruction in the local language from first to fifth grade, before English becomes the language of instruction from sixth to eighth in line with the requirements of the reform. The teachers in the schoolyard often do not fully recognize themselves.

"Most teachers only continue in the local language in the sixth grade. How can they teach English when they do not master the language themselves? ” asks a teacher rhetorically. As a newly qualified teacher, you move from school to school, and have seen great variations in the level of teaching and educators. "One of the teachers says: I have tried to teach English here too - as we should - but even the oldest children do not understand me when I switch."

The discipline is included in the pull

The fact that the students at the higher levels do not have a high enough level of knowledge is something that it is easy to blame «RTE» for. The reform abolished the tests that previously had to be passed to begin in the next step, and introduced what was called "continuous and comprehensive evaluation".

"The students get lazy, now they can just sail through without really learning anything," say some of the teachers. He is to some extent supported in the national survey ASER, conducted by a non-governmental organization in all of India's rural districts. It reveals a number of discouraging learning outcomes, such as that less than half of fifth-graders are able to read second-grade syllabi.

The proportion of literate people has fallen since the introduction of RTE in 2010. Inside the principal's office, however, the view of the reform is optimistic.

"The education system is getting better and better. Before, the students were only taught everything from the curriculum ", says a principal at one of the schools in Karnataka.

Several activists in India agree with this principal in Karnataka on "the fight against old-fashioned pug mentality." One of these activists is one of the initiators of the nationwide "NineisMine" campaign, demanding that nine percent of Indian GDP be set aside for children's health and education. Like many others, he is as enthusiastic about the reform as he is disappointed with its implementation.

Private school for all the money

For many Indian parents, the country's public school has long seemed like a joke. The ASER report shows that almost a quarter of Indian children go to private school.

With RTE, private schools are required to offer a quarter of their school places free of charge to members of India's so-called "scheduled castes and tribes" and children living below the poverty line. That is why opposition to the reform has been great »!

Stands on the will.

Now that the reform has been introduced, there are divided opinions on whether all good things are RTE. "Someone in India says something pessimistic: We can afford good laws in India. Everyone knows they will not be implemented anyway ». However, many believe the reform can make a difference, "but it will only be when people understand the rights that come with it."

Whether the Indian education system will be able to lift the children in the schoolyard from a fishing background to our notion of the Indian IT entrepreneur, doctor or engineer, depends on whether the reform can create schools where children do not have to be language confused, urinate, hungry or scared.

Look at the above picture - the difference between public- and private school!
The Indian Knowledge Boost