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Reimagining Girl Education in India: A Policy Review

1: Challenge with girl’s education in India

2021 marks the 12th year anniversary of the Right to Education Act’s implementation in India which mandated free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14.

The RTE act has been successful in ensuring higher enrolments for girls, especially at the elementary levels with a gross enrolment ratio of ~99%. [1] However, retaining girls and ensuring that they complete school continues to remain a challenge. The problem is especially acute when we consider the 15-18 age group where 40% of girls are out-of-school. [2] Access to education, although important, is not the sole metric when solving for the challenges faced by girls. Thus, attention needs to be drawn to reduce the drop-out rates and ensure that the girl reaches and completes the 12th grade.

Educating girls is also closely linked with the Sustainable Development Goals of gender equality and women empowerment. Even when girls do attend schools, the next piece of the puzzle is understanding whether or not they are learning the required foundational knowledge and developing the necessary skills to ensure that they meaningfully participate and progress in the society, both socially as well as economically. Although progress has been made on the foundational literacy and numeracy front, significant gaps in life skills and vocational training continue to deprive girls of a level playing field. Thus, an increased focus on holistic development is the need of the hour.

2. Methodology

The objective of this paper is to understand a girl’s education trajectory and identify gaps in each of those stages which are limiting her potential. The research methodology entails thinking from first principles in identifying these gaps and providing recommendations for fixing them. The analysis is based on secondary search as well as primary interviews conducted with stakeholders.

2.1. Stage 1 – Enrolling girls in schools

The key factors that affect enrolment revolve around a) affordability issues, b) social concerns, and c) lack of awareness on the importance of education.

The RTE has successfully addressed the affordability and awareness issue, which has translated into accelerating enrolments, especially at the elementary level.

At the elementary levels, the gross enrolment ratios are already ~99%. At secondary levels, the enrolment has increased by ~10% between 2012-13 to 2019-20 to reach ~78%. Similarly, enrolment at the higher secondary levels has increased by ~13% to reach ~52%. [1] Additionally, government programs aimed at ensuring the overall hygiene of a school, such as "Clean India: Clean Schools" that focused on adequate water and sanitation facilities, have also been seen as a contributor to increased enrollments.

Source: Government of India, World Bank [1] [3]

As we discuss in the subsequent sections, the major challenge has now shifted from enrolment to retention of girls in schools. As girls progress in schools, we see retention rates going down significantly.

Source: U-DISE 2015-2016

In addition to increased dropouts, compliance with various RTE norms has also been lackadaisical with only13% of schools complying with the RTE norms (teacher-student ratio, infrastructure facilities, etc.). [4]

Finally, improving the quality of education and going beyond the traditional literacy and numeracy skills to inculcate a more holistic approach have now become the crucial agenda points, as highlighted in the National Education Policy, 2020.

2.2. Stage 2 – Difficulties with retaining girls in schools

Although RTE​​ has successfully attracted more students into elementary schools, this trend has not been replicated at the secondary levels. According to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, nearly 40% of adolescent girls in the age group of 15-18 are not attending school. [2]

Source: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

According to American India Foundation, 45% of girls drop out due to reasons relating to their household. Similarly, National Statistical Office finds engagement in domestic chores as the primary driver for girls dropping out of school, followed by financial constraints and limited interest in education.

Source: National Statistical Office

Based on the findings of various research bodies, we have categorized the reasons for dropping out into three categories:

2.2.1. Accessibility issues

A. Physical Distance

A key factor for low retention in secondary classes is the physical proximity of secondary schools. According to the ASER 2015 – 2016, "For every hundred elementary schools in rural India, there are only fourteen offering secondary and only six offering higher secondary grades."

Source: Annual Status of Education Report 2015 – 2016

Due to this disparity, the distance of schools from homes keeps widening with each increasing level of education and heightens the risk of sexual violence, harassment, and abduction. This threat makes parents unwilling to send their daughters to far away schools.

B. Digital Access

India houses 624 million internet users, which is nearly 45% of the entire Indian population. [5] Schools are also increasingly relying on digital means to supplement learning, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the digital teaching facilities, adopted during the pandemic did not reach all students because of gaps in digital access owing to gender, location, and wealth.

Source: Centre for Catalysing Change (from a survey in Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh & Bihar with N= 7,200)

Source: Samudaik Kalyan Evam Vikas Sansthan (from a survey of 500 families in UP)

Further, even if girls have access, they are likely to face the burden of additional domestic chores due to school closures.

C. Infrastructural Facilities

C1. Sanitation & Hygiene

Lack of basic sanitary facilities like toilets at school can have a lasting effect on attendance of students. In rural India, according to Statista, only 66% of schools have separate functional toilets for girls. [7] According to a survey carried out by the CAG, 72% or 1,679 out of 2,326 surveyed toilets lacked running water facilities inside toilets and 55% were without handwashing facilities. [8] Overall, only 54% of Indian schools have functional WASH facilities (Toilet, Drinking Water and Handwashing). [9]

This factor affects girls and female teachers more than their male counterparts, as females are unable to attend school while menstruating.

According to an article by NDTV, shortage of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities (functional toilets, availability of sanitary napkins and proper awareness about menstruation) causes 23 million girls to drop out of school every year. [10]

Source: Statista, RTE Forum

Source: CAG

Additionally, the lack of proper toilets also forces girls to go secluded spots outdoors which makes them vulnerable to assaults. The mere possibility of such assaults is enough to dissuade parents from sending their daughters to school. Research suggests that simply building a latrine within the school compounds can positively affect the overall enrolment rates for all students including pubescent girls. [11]

C2. Lack of boundary walls

According to RTE Forum, 35% of schools lack a boundary wall, an important aspect of providing safety to the students and staff. [12] This deficiency makes girls and female staff especially vulnerable to harassment, assault and instils a general discomfort and often leads to parents pulling their daughters out of school. Even parents who understand the importance of education choose not to send their children to schools that lack basic facilities as they believe their children will not learn much in such conditions.

Source: RTE Forum

2.2.2. Social barriers

Social barriers refer to differences and inequalities in the form of norms and behaviours which inculcates stereotypes and severely restricts girls from achieving their full potential.

Broadly, social barriers affecting girls can be classified into three areas:

A. The burden of household chores

In India, the responsibility of carrying out domestic chores (cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, etc.) falls solely on the women and girls of the house, which has even led to girls discontinuing from school. A study conducted by the NGO - CRY in Haryana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat, among 3,000 young girls found that at least 46% of these girls could not attend school as they were busy with domestic chores. Parents in rural areas also believe that since the girl will eventually get married and has to manage the household chores, she should learn that instead of going to school.

B. Early / child marriages

Underage marriage is still prevalent in many parts of India. According to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16), 26.8% of women between the ages of 20- 24 were married before 18, which stalled their education. Girls get married younger than boys do – a Harvard School of Public Health survey conducted studies in Gujarat looking into rates of child marriage and found that of girls aged 14-17, 37% were engaged and 12% married.

India has 23 million child brides, the world's most significant number, which is likely to rise due to the pandemic. For economically over-burdened families, early marriage acts as an opportunity to free themselves from the liability of raising a girl child. ChildLine India has reported a 17% increase in distress calls related to the early marriage of girls in June and July 2020 as compared to 2019.

Additionally, while girls may drop out for other reasons, their low education results in early marriage and pregnancies.

Source: NFHS, 2005-2006

C. Discriminatory social beliefs and taboos

C1. Menstruation

Menstruation is still a taboo in India and the stigma associated forces girls to drop out of school. The problem is compounded by lack of proper sanitation facilities and the unavailability of sanitary napkins in schools.

Source: NDTV

According to UNICEF’s work in Maharashtra, as many as 80% of teachers still believe in menstrual taboos. [5] Another study suggests that 70% of Indian mothers surveyed considered menstruation "dirty." [6]

C2. Lack of interest in educating girls

Lack of resources tempts people to educate boys over girls as they think that investing in boys’ education is more profitable. The 'Paraya Dhan' Attitude, where society believes that girls are bound to go to 'Other People's House,' and thus, does not need an education. This makes girls internalize that education is not essential for them.

One of the key reasons for this attitude being the lack of awareness on the career options available. A team of researchers led by Ms.Esther Duflo at Rajasthan tested the impact of sending recruiters to hold information sessions for women about jobs in BPO industry and about the qualifications. Though this was only a possible career opportunity, the impact of this exposure was great. In villages that received BPO information sessions, girls aged 6 to 17 were 5 percentage more likely to be enrolled in school. Villages where the village leader position was reserved for a woman saw no gender gap in enrolment between boys and girls, compared to a 6-percentage point gap in enrolment in comparison villages. So, the lack of interest can be addressed by providing awareness on the long-term career options [16].

2.2.3. Affordability issues

By the RTE act, the cost of school education up to age 14 was borne by the state in government and private aided schools. As the students go into class 9 or secondary school, the financial burden is on the household, which is significantly high for secondary and higher secondary studies. For the sake of thousands for school fees, a girl can miss out on years of education, permanently changing the trajectory of her life.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, November 30, 2020 [17]

As per a study conducted by Accountability Initiative, in rural areas, nearly 40% of income is spent on educating two children [17]. The costs become a huge barrier for families, and they are forced to choose which of their children to enrol. If the child is a girl, then the parents are reluctant to spend this high cost for her education and would prioritize the boy child because a boy's education is perceived as more profitable (benefits of a girl's education are seen as going to the family she marries into).

They perceive that schooling is more costly for girls in terms of real financial costs and opportunity costs. Sending a girl to school means forgoing her work in household or wages she may earn, and it also means spending additional financial and human resources concealing her, supervising her, and keeping her safe on the way to school.

2.3. Stage 3 – Key interventions required to retain girls in schools

2.3.1. Summary of all interventions

The recommendations listed above are some viable solutions that would have a positive impact in reducing the dropout rates of girls. To further identify the solutions with maximum benefits, we need to analyze them from the lenses of feasibility and impact.

To analyze the feasibility of a solution, we need to consider whether the solution is cost efficient or intensive, the ease of scalability, willingness of stakeholders to adopt and ultimately the time it will take to roll it out. Similarly, we also need to consider the potential impact of a solution by considering the number of girls it will directly affect and the severity of the problem it is addressing.

2.3.2. Priority interventions

A. Limited technology-using teaching models

With the sudden onset of the pandemic, teaching and learning moved online. However, switching to an online learning mode was not possible for areas with low internet penetration. To address this gap in learning, Additya from Central Square Foundation and Center for Catalyzing Change suggest that the government should invest in low tech methods such as radios, television broadcast (e.g., Kerala's first bell initiative), socially distanced and small community classes, and delivery of teaching material to students with bi-monthly personal check-ins by teachers.

In areas with penetration of mobiles phones and mobile internet, simple online platforms, accessible via mobile phones can be used to aid teaching and learning. Platforms like WhatsApp can be leveraged to circulate readings, assignments, relevant videos and even group video calls with teachers for clearing doubts. WhatsApp was successfully utilized to further education efforts by the Haryana government a few years ago. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh’s DigiLEP works with 50,000+ WhatsApp groups to deliver content. This model has already been replicated by multiple government and low-income private schools across Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

B. Greater accountability for the School Management Committees and an active role in maintaining school facilities

As a part of their program, Educate Girls (a social enterprise) created and trained 46,000 SMCs across schools and enrolled parents as SMC members. These SMCs were able to ‘increase schools with drinking water up from 46% to 82%’ and ‘increase in separate girls’ toilets from 44% to 71%’.[18] Thus, it will be fruitful to form and train SMCs to make school infrastructure more girl-friendly and ensure the standards set out by RTE are met. The ownership of these committees can be taken up by NGOs, School Administration and Local government/panchayat. Further, even when toilets and basic infrastructure such as boundary walls are there, their maintenance poses a challenge due to a negligent school administration or shortage of resources. Drawing reference from housing societies and corporations that have annual maintenance contracts, a cohort of schools (4-5 schools) together can sign an annual maintenance contract, to ensure that once all the facilities have been constructed, they are maintained and in use. The onus of initiating and maintaining these contracts can lie with the School Maintenance Committees.

C. Addressing taboos and providing additional support

Civic bodies in Vadodara, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Uttarakhand have provided additional support to girls by installing sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators in government-run schools to increase accessibility to pads [19].

In October 2020, the government of Uttar Pradesh installed sanitary pad vending machines and incinerators for their disposal at 1000 government high schools and intermediate colleges to address the dropouts because of lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities [20].

It is also equally important to address the low levels of awareness about menstruation and the taboos that persist amongst mothers, teachers, and daughters via proper training on reproductive health and regular community workshops. In Pune, schools form special committees monitored by a task force, headed by municipal commissioners and chief executive officers at Municipal Corporation and zilla parishad levels, who are responsible for conducting training sessions and awareness campaign among parents and girls addressing menstrual taboos and hygiene. This committee came as a part of Swachch Bharat and Swach Vidyalay missions [21].

D. Extend RTE to 15-18 years of children

Continuing RTE and providing free education to all children, covering the age group of 15-18 would definitely help as they will no longer have to drop out due to lack of funds or parents’ willingness to only spend money on their son’s education. This goes in line with the mandate of NEP 2020 which proposes universalization of education. The only bottleneck with this recommendation is the high cost involved [22]

2.3. Stage 3 – Enhancing performance of girls

2.3.1. Learning outcomes: Measuring girl’s performance

The phrase “Learning outcomes” specifies what learners will know or be able to do because of a learning activity (NCERT, 2015). Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge, skills, or attitudes and are assessed using grade-appropriate, basic competencies in numeracy and literacy, which school-going children are supposed to acquire.

Findings from the National Achievement Survey, 2017 highlight that girls performed mostly at par or marginally better than boys when learning outcomes were evaluated. [22]

Source: National Achievement Survey, 2017

2.3.2. Shortcomings of learning outcomes

In India, student performance is solely based on the knowledge aspect of learning outcomes. While some progress was made with the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE model) which focused on skills and values as much as it did on knowledge, we have now come back to square one having done away with the CCE model due to its own structural and execution issues. There are 3 key challenges with learning outcomes:

A. Focus on passing the tests

Textbooks and teaching pedagogy focus only on the acquisition of “knowledge” part of learning and takes away the possibility of a meaningful co-construction of knowledge. Since teachers’ own appraisal and performance is contingent on children’s performance in these tests, they feel pressured to ensure that children know the basic minimum and somehow pass the test

B. Limited focus on imparting life skills

While in the last few years, there has been much progress in moving the global education discourse from inputs (enrolment and parity) to learning outcomes, thus shifting the focus to quality of education, this welcome movement does not go far enough. In order to seriously meet the goal of gender equality the global discourse must go beyond numbers and embrace a life-outcomes approach (Sahni, 2012) which provides girls with the required like skills to challenge existing discriminatory practices and success in an unequal and unjust environment

C. Limited focus on providing skill development training

Skill development in Indian schools remains a dream currently and will continue to be so if carried out in isolation through skill centers alone. It must be imparted in schools alongside academics. Skill development should ideally begin at the age of 13 years, from the eighth standard, while in school.

2.3.3. Incorporating life skills as key educational outcomes

Post-independence, patterns of inequality and exclusion continue to exist in India, largely due to deep rooted social (e.g., caste, tribal, minorities and gender) and class structures that perpetuate and limit opportunities for people. Within these groups, girls are further discriminated due to their sex. To comprehend, navigate, and overcome these challenges, girls need to be empowered to think for themselves.

The world bodies such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO have listed the ten core Life Skills that would be instrumental in ensuring girls become and feel empowered:

Roodbari, Sahdipoor, and Ghale (2013) in their research showed that life skills training has a positive effect and improves social development, emotional and social adjustment, suggesting an increase in compatibility of children and public health. Importance of life skills has gotten a focus in NEP 2020 with its emphasis on imparting like skills like cooperation, teamwork, empathy, resilience, creativity, and critical thinking from an early stage. [25]

Imparting Life skills

The involvement of various stakeholders is imperative to impart these useful life skills to girls. As existing initiatives show, this has been done in multiple ways, involving the government, the teachers, community members, and NGOs. Some of the existing modes of delivery are highlighted below -

Technology led initiatives (apps and use of AR/VR)

Mindset Works developed School Kit, an app designed to strengthen academic and social and emotional success, being funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Students learn a growth mindset with animations, assessments, and classroom activities, which has shown to improve their academic outcomes as well. At the industry level, Best Western, a multinational chain in the hospitality industry, also uses AR/VR to impart soft skills to its staff.

Government led initiative (Happiness and entrepreneurial curriculum of the Delhi government)

Delhi government incorporated a happiness and entrepreneurial curriculum which was developed with the help of government experts and the State Council of Educational Research and Training in addition to the core subjects to promote learning that encourages critical thinking, problem solving and application of knowledge among children. There were workshops to train teachers in these curriculums and was taught in the form of bi-weekly classes which involved mindfulness activities and exercises along with taking up reflective questions. Senior students apart from the activities, take part in self-expression and reflect on their behavioral changes. [26]

School led initiative (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences)

Located in Bhubaneshwar to provide basic education to tribal children, KISS provides a holistic education to children with vocational training in a variety of disciplines. Its unique pedagogy and curricula have ensured zero dropouts and the institute has helped students build confidence and equip them key life skills. [27]

Community members and NGO led initiative (Bhumi)

Volunteers from the non-profit organization Bhumi are involved in educating and mentoring children from orphanages, slums, and village community centers. It strives to build an equal and socially conscious society and provides support in academic subjects as well as life skills and sports.

2.3.4. Incorporating vocational training and skill development as key educational outcomes

Vocational training is an important component to ensure the holistic development of girls. The significance of this component increases drastically in rural and low-income settings where education is increasingly seen as not affecting the real-life outcomes of a girl child. Empowerment and Economic Independence are two major advantages of imparting vocational training to girl students. It directly creates a skilled workforce among the most underprivileged population giving them livelihood opportunities, at the same time also contributing to the nation’s economy by narrowing the huge shortage of skilled workforce that currently exists in India.

Status Quo on Vocational training and Skill Development in India

At present, there are several government schemes that provide such training and development opportunities in both formal and informal mode [for e.g., Industrial training Institutes (ITI’s), Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG – SABLA), National Skill Development Program (NSDP), Mahila Shakti kendra (PMMSK)]. Although there has been a substantial increase in the investments towards ensuring vocational training and skill development for girls, there are several concerns that remain unaddressed:

● Skill development programmes in India engage children at the age of 18 years and the RTE is only till the age of 14 years. It is important that girls are engaged in the age group of 15-18 when the dropout rates are very high with ~65% of the out of schools in the age group of 15-18 are not engaged in any paid work, potentially driven by lack of skills, limited opportunities, and family resentment.

● Skill development in Indian schools remains a dream currently and will continue to be so if carried out in isolation through skill centers alone and must be imparted alongside academics. Organizations like Quest Alliance and Medha are already working with a vision to prepare youth for life after school by incorporating vocational training and skill development as part of the overall academic curriculum in school

Imparting vocational skills

Some of the existing innovations in the space have been highlighted below which can be used as reference points to scale initiatives and make skill development a central part of education -

Technology led initiatives (Use of AR / VR) Varanasi is soon to receive the first Indian augmented reality education and training institute. It is expected to provide students with “hands-on training" on high value machines at a virtual manufacturing shop floor and will be open to be used as a skill school for secondary school students as well

School led initiatives Quest Alliance’s Secondary School Program, which runs in 7 Indians states, enables girls in government secondary schools to build vocational skills relating to coding and STEM courses alongside the academic curriculum. Similarly, Prerna School in Lucknow runs apprenticeship programs from grade 9 onwards.

Government led initiatives CBSE has been designing and running several vocational courses on Commerce, Engineering, Health, Paramedics, Home Science, Agriculture, Hospitality, Tourism, etc. to promote skill development. However, these courses continue to remain more theoretical versus practical

Inspiration from other countries Switzerland and Israel run an apprenticeship model of vocational training. In Switzerland, 2/3rd of all young people coming out of compulsory education enroll in these training programs and have an option to choose from ~230 different occupations. [30]

2.3.5. National Education Policy 2020: the makings of a transformation

The National Education Policy 2020 has been created as a guiding document to act as the blueprint of the much-needed education revolution of the 21st century.

Source: EducationWorld

Specifically, the NEP 2020 has proposed transformative action in the following key areas, for secondary school education:

2.3.6. Digitization of Education: The EdTech Revolution

India has a vibrant EdTech sector, ranking third in the world, after the US and China, in terms of overall funding. The NEP 2020 proposes to integrate technology at every level of instruction in school education in India via establishing the National Education Technology Forum (NETF) to give impetus to the deployment and use of technology in school education.

On the surface, India appears prepared to deep-dive into such a rigorous technology-integration program, with existing programs such as Digital India, Digital Infrastructure for School Education (DIKSHA) and open-source learning platforms such as SWAYAM, National Digital Library of India, National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and UDISE+. Technology-integration could also help to reduce dropout rates, improve retention and performance of school students. Some of the key interventions which have been employed in India and could be scaled to impact a larger section have been highlighted below-

A. Technology-Enhanced Assessments:

  • Gamification of assessments, as done by GlassLab has also made learning and assessments engaging and interactive, while focusing on students’ creative problem-solving and systems thinking. For example, SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! by GlassLab engages students in real-world challenges faced by countries globally.

  • Performance-based assessments executed online with a variety of questions including graphic responses, hot text, equation responses, etc. Such assessments are regularly conducted on a small scale by language-learning tools like Duolingo, Babbel, and on a large scale by PISA, IELTS, TOEFL.

  • SimScientists simulation-based curriculum unit and assessments, which are designed to use technology to measure middle school students’ understanding of ecosystems, scientific inquiry, and non-cognitive competencies such as creative problem-solving

B. Enhancing academic learning:

  • Ranjitsinh Disale’s work for girls’ education in Paritewadi, Maharashtra (which won him the Global Teacher Award 2020) wherein he introduced digital learning tools and came up with personalized programmes for each student. His system of QR Coded Textbooks is now used in places across India and has the potential to be scaled to reach the remotest regions of the country.

  • Kerala’s Aksharavriksham initiative which focuses on digital “edutainment” to support learning and skill development through games and activities.

  • Uttarakhand’s community radio which is promoting early reading through bite-size broadcasts

  • Himachal Pradesh’s HarGhar Pathshala which is successfully providing digital education for children with special needs.

  • MDML (Multi- dimensional- multi- level) approach by Tide Learning (based on a similar approach by Rishi Valley School) which is focused on ECCE but can be replicated for secondary schools as well. They use learning maps and activity-based learning structures deployed through tablets. This model has already been replicated nationally as well as internationally in over 2000 schools.

iii. Career Guidance:

  • Assam’s online career guidance portal which is strengthening school-to-work and higher- education transition for students in grades 9 to 12

  • DISCOVER (American College Testing Program, 1991) is a CACGS (Computer-Aided Career Guidance Systems) which has been widely used to conduct self-assessments of interests, values, and abilities of students, along with information about hundreds of occupations to match and generate lists of occupations

  • GoCareer technology connects students with parents and teachers with a specific focus on building a personalized skill-development and career journey for every student

iv. Teacher Upskilling:

  • Global Education & Training Institute and Global Classroom- GETI's teacher-training programs to equip teachers from Tier-II and Tier-III cities to transition to an online-mode of teaching

  • Samarth in Gujarat which is facilitating the online professional development of millions of teachers in collaboration with IIM-Ahmedabad

  • Delhi’s Mentor Teacher program is being used to train teachers in pedagogy and can further even be extended to provide technology-specific training.

v. Parent Engagement:

  • Jharkhand’s DigiSATH is trying to involve parents as stakeholders in education along with working on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) by building and strengthening parent-teacher-student linkages

  • Mobile apps such as ClassDojo have been used by teachers to keep parents updated about student behavior and performance, in multiple languages. The ClassDojo app was recommended and used by all Delhi government schoolteachers to deliver lessons, work-packets, and performance reports in 2020-21

vi. Monitoring School Progress:

  • Hamara Vidyalaya (Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh) which has been initiated as part of the aspirational districts program to employ district-wide and school-wide dashboard to monitor progress and rank each school, accordingly, thus fostering a system of healthy competition aimed at growth. Delhi Government Schools also follow a similar rankings system. Hamara Vidyalaya also employs an online platform called “Yathasarvern”, developed by technology partner-Eckovation, which is linked to a mobile app for data entry.

  • Delhi’s move to provide tablets to teachers to record student performance while reducing administrative paperwork and increasing teacher accountability.

All the interventions can be scaled upwards and tailored to fit the needs of target beneficiaries, while maintaining a low-cost, high-efficiency structure. Such interventions would collectively culminate into the overhaul of the education system as recommended by the NEP 2020.

2.3.7. Holistic development approach in practice (Case study: Prerna School, Lucknow) Run by the Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF), Prerna school has been successful in implementing a rights-based, empowering, contextualized education model which focuses on life-outcomes of the girl child.

  • The academic curriculum adopted by the school is enriched with sports, martial arts, music, art, and a strong focus on drama to express themselves. Students are also enrolled in apprentice programs from grade 9 onward.

  • Every week there are focused discussions on various issues that affect their lives closely, ranging from child marriage, to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and health such as menstruation. The goal is to undo the inequitable mental constructs that the students have formed because of their gendered socialization at home.

  • The teachers are required to make a very detailed social profile of all their students upon enrolment after intensive interviews with the students and their parents to ensure that the teachers are fully aware of the lives of their students and are able to counsel them accordingly.

Prerna recorded an average dropout rate of 8.14 percent, compared to a national dropout rate of 46.7% for girls in 2011-12. 97.4% of Prerna students have transitioned to higher education, and 52.2% of Prerna graduates are employed. [28]

Source: From Learning Outcomes to Life Outcomes, Center for Universal Education at Brookings

Such a Life-Outcomes based approach has been executed while following the existing prescribed syllabus which shows that we have reasonable evidence that such a model, if scaled and executed with a student-centric approach, would not only improve retention and dropout rates but also ensure greater empowerment and agency in their personal life choices.

Meet The Thought Leaders

Shatakshi Sharma is a public policy advisor, has been a management consultant with BCG and is Co- Founder of Global Governance Initiative with national facilitation of award- Economic Times The Most Promising Women Leader Award, 2021 and Linkedin Top Voice, 2021. Prior to graduate school at ISB, she was Strategic Advisor with the Government of India where she drove good governance initiatives. She was also felicitated with a National Young Achiever Award for Nation Building. She is a part time blogger on her famous series-MBA in 2 minutes.

Naman Shrivastava is the Co-Founder of Global Governance Initiative. He has previously worked as a Strategy Consultant in the Government of India and is working at the United Nations - Office of Internal Oversight Services. Naman is also a recipient of the prestigious Harry Ratliffe Memorial Prize - awarded by the Fletcher Alumni of Color Executive Board. He has been part of speaking engagements at International forums such as the World Economic Forum, UN South-South Cooperation etc. His experience has been at the intersection of Management Consulting, Political Consulting, and Social entrepreneurship

Raveena Rana is a mentor at GGI and was with Bain and Company for ~3 years, working with their private equity division on numerous due diligence projects across industries. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College for Women with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. In her free time, she loves to read, dance, and cycle.

Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)


Anushka Dixit is a candidate for the Master of Public Administration at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). She is a recent alumnus of the Teach For India Fellowship. She strongly believes in being a champion for education and child rights, and has started a project named 'Just Justice' to spread legal literacy and political awareness among young students from under-resourced communities. Besides work, she enjoys reading, spoken-word poetry, and playing tennis.

Sunakshi Sethi is a Senior Brand Associate at Saatchi & Saatchi Propagate, working in the account management team. She graduated from Xavier’s Institute of Communication, Mumbai with a PGDM in Advertising and Marketing and has been in the field of digital marketing for 2 years. Apart from work, she enjoys music, travelling and reading.

Amruta Pagariya is a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young working with the Business Consulting team. She is a Chartered Accountant and Young India fellow from Ashoka University. Apart from work, she enjoys reading and dancing.

Anurag is a final-year student at the National Law University, Visakhapatnam. He has also been awarded the Prime Minister’s Merit Scholarship for his academic and co-curricular achievements. He is a published columnist and writes at the intersection of Governance, Law and Policy. He loves reading and travelling.

Samarth Narula is a graduate from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. He was a part of the Harvard Project for Asia and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference, in 2019, in the social policy and justice track. Apart from being an enthusiastic sportsman, he likes to read non-fiction books and practice meditation regularly.

Hanushavardhini is pursuing her integrated masters in development studies from IIT Madras. She is the Co-Founder of an early stage edtech startup pre-incubated at IIT Madras. She was a part of the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Madras for 3 years under Marketing & Public Relations. Apart from this, she has been involved in various projects under Government of TamilNadu, Enactus and IIM Ahmedabad. She is also an avid reader of non-fiction and enjoys music, travelling and cooking.

If you are interested to apply to GGI Impact Fellowship, you can access our application link here.


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