Lant Pritchett: India’s Battle to Educate the Country

(Cross posted from “Shrikant’s Blog”)

I bumped into Lant Pritchett’s interaction with Indian Express this week. Lant is the Faculty co-chair of the Master’s in Public Administration / International Development Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He discusses various issues with the Indian education system. His insight and observations are astute, profound and the heuristic for what needs to be fixed.  We can fix if there is a will to fix it. Some of his observations are ->

We churn out millions with zero skills

The same system also produces 100,000 students a year in the global top 10%

We have an over ambitious curriculum, more equipped to teach the elite rather than the masses

To educate all of India we need scale down the learning and focus on learning

RTE is one of the most ill-conceived programs, instead of focussing on learning we have just enshrined additional legislation

India does not have any semi-skilled labour, people with basic lieracy, basic numeracy but no advanced skills

Any systems that gives control of hiring and allocation of teachers to parents produces much better results

SSA is popular because it allows politicians to hire more teachers with government air-cover and promote political patronage.

This interaction basically highlights the various issues with India’s primary education system. We pay education cess, the whole country is contributing, but the model is wrong. The structure, the incentives, the process of teaching and learning need to change, if we have to educate India that will contribute to convert the demographic dividend into a long term assets. However most indicators are pointing the other way.

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