India has a middle class of over 300 million and another 400 million live below the poverty line. With such a high population, cultivating an educated workforce offers many social and economic opportunities for the country. Because of its high social return on investment, education is a key issue for donors wanting to bring about social change in India.
The report, Education in India: An Overview of Challenges and Philanthropic Opportunities, released by Kordant Philanthropy Advisors, explores the challenges in India’s primary and higher education system as well as vocational and skills training. It also provides some high-level opportunities for donors and examples of innovative groups tackling this issue. Below are some highlights from the report.
Access to education has become less of an issue; rather, the question remains whether school attendance equates learning. Challenges include outdated curriculum, inadequate teacher training, poor infrastructure, and difficulty in finding teachers who teach in either English or officially recognized languages. Interventions in curriculum development and standardization, improved infrastructure, and teacher trainings are necessary in order to improve both the quality of teaching and learning, and reduce dropout rates.
Enrollment rates for higher education in India still lag far behind that in other countries, including China, even though India has the world’s largest number of higher education institutions, with nearly one-third of these institutions being less than ten years old. India has announced several new initiatives to encourage higher education support, including the privatization of educational institutions, encouraging collaboration with foreign higher education providers, and a commitment to more research spending.
Vocational & Skills Training
India provides very little training to its workforce. Many private institutions have sprung up recently to cater to this demand, serving populations not reached by government vocational training institutes and other programs. In addition, India is developing a system of 230 community colleges as a framework for skills-based education in the country. Public private partnerships such as the National Skills Development Corporation, established by the Indian government with the support of 60 corporate partners, aims to train 150 million people by 2022.
High Impact Philanthropy Investments
There is enormous opportunity for high impact and innovative investments in the area of education and both the public and private sectors can play a pivotal role. The new CSR law in India has made this a particularly opportune time for corporations to contribute to the development of India’s education system. Individual donors have always played a major role in the education sector and can continue to support its growth by investing in pilot projects bringing about positive and significant changes. Donors should consider the growing opportunities, social returns, and local contexts as they make their philanthropic investments decisions.
The complete copy of the report, Education in India: An Overview of Challenges and Philanthropic Opportunities can be accessed here.
About the Author
Nishita (Nish) Bakshi is a philanthropy advisor and strategist. She is an expert in international grant making, Indian diaspora philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility. Currently, Nish consults with organizations in the areas of program development, grants management and social impact.