Photo credit: Business World Education
Aaragatta lies tucked away in the Naxal affected area of Sukma, Chhattisgarh. Karnam Geeta’s father was trying to bring peace to this region when local militia kidnapped and murdered him. Geeta’s life was in freefall for a few years until she met Ashish Srivastava who is bringing children like Geeta back to the formal education system. By doing so, he is also bringing them the childhood they ought to have. A little over a decade ago, Ashish was leading a very different team: one comprising software engineers. Ashish’s journey – from corporate management to education – is far from an anomaly. Archana Iyer was building brands for FMCG giants; today she’s codifying pedagogical practices and learning from the world’s strongest classrooms. She recently shared her findings with the OECD Education 2030 working group. Vedika Agarwal, an economics major, now runs after-school community centres that offer holistic education to children from urban slums.
In today’s India, where you are born continues to dictate where you go. Disrupting this “prophecy” can be extremely complex. The absence of appropriate role-models, inadequate social capital and, in many cases, even basic rights can pose significant barriers to progress. For India’s children, it’s an unfair race. High-income families have a massive head start, while the rest are frustratingly stuck behind the start line. The data, in many ways, speaks for itself. Over 76% of India’s 320 million children drop out before they graduate 12th grade. Only 27% of our 3rd graders can read a Grade 2 text, while less than half of our 8th graders can correctly solve a 3-digit by 1-digit numerical division problem.
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