Change Magazine September 2017 Issue - Page 20

Grassroots Voices INDIA JAZZ HANDS: STUDENTS TAKE CENTER STAGE Ira Diwase Since attaining independence, the Government of India has been implementing several programs and schemes aimed at providing children, especially young girls, with access to quality education, to equip them with the requisite knowledge and skills required for self-development and nation building. The achievements in this regard have however been rather skewed with a marked difference existing between the rural and urban regions of the 16 country. The area-wise learning outcomes in four subjects namely English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science, compiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education & Literacy, New Delhi, India, observed in 2016 that in all subjects, urban students outperform rural students by a large margin. Even within the urban areas, the children from the privileged parts of society outperform those from the economically backward areas. Change Magazine September 2017 The Problem Interaction with girl students who come from underprivileged sections of society revealed a huge gap in their capabilities to comprehend and keep up with the rigors of a challenging curriculum while at college. The sub-standard level of education at the primary and secondary levels of learning at municipal schools makes it very difficult for these kids to compete with their city-bred counterparts coming from English medium schools. Most of these students also display extremely low levels of self-worth and self-esteem compared to their peers, mainly on account of their inability to speak the English language— which over the years has become synonymous with success in the country. With the shortage of funds, qualified teachers and facilities in India, standard solutions seemed far-fetched and it was felt that innovative interventions would have to be envisioned to tackle the issue. Change Magazine September 2017 17