Simple ways in which education crowdfunding can improve government schools in India
By: Jasmine Marfatia
Published On: July 18, 2018
In this article,we discuss a few ways in which education crowdfunding could enhance the quality of the public education system in India
Quality education forms the foundation for socio-economic and cultural development of any country. As for India, our numbers can be our greatest asset, with 1.32 billion people. Our greatest drawback, however, is that only a small percentage are able to afford quality education. Due to several reasons including poverty, lack of access and facilities, mindsets that except children to earn at young ages, and reduced female literacy, we have the largest population of uneducated adults in society.
But not all hope is lost, as concepts like education crowdfunding are becoming increasingly popular in coping with monetary constraints in the education space. By extending the benefits of crowdsourced funding to government schools in India, we can encourage quality and equality in education. An unsurprising statistic reveals that public education is preferred in most countries, with an enrollment of 93% in UK, 92% in USA, 98% in Finland, and 97% in Sri Lanka. India on the other hand has 30-40% students attending private schools, and this number is expected to shoot to 75% in the next 7 years. The primary reason for it is that people are becoming increasingly undeceived by the poor quality of government schools in India.
The situation is so bad, that even families from economically weaker backgrounds would rather bear the burden of educational debt, than send their children to government schools where the education is free, but lacks quality. The Economic Times covered the story of a domestic worker from Bangalore, Ammu, who resorts to micro-finance agencies and family borrowings to put her children through private schools, because she wants them to “learn English and get good jobs”.
Policies like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan implemented in 2001, and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2009, provided some hope to tackle the problem of illiteracy in India. While there was some improvement in the number of student enrollments, the quality of education remained substandard.
India’s 12th five-year-plan emphasised four pillars to improve the public education system - Access, Equity, Quality, and Governance. Using these as markers, it’s time that all of India gets actively involved in revamping and improving the state of government education. Education crowdfunding and school fundraising conveniently allows us, the people, to be involved in implementing changes that can make a difference.Using Education Crowdfunding to tackle the most apparent problems in the system
Expanding government school budgets
Several government run schools today have been criticized for lacking even the basic facilities such as tables, chairs, and clean and sanitary toilets for students to use. Lack of clean water supply, unmaintained buildings, cramped classrooms, poor lighting that is unsuitable for studying etc, are some of the reasons why people are disillusioned by government-run schools.
All of these problems are mostly attributed to lack of funding and resources for these institutions. Through education fundraising, one can easily raise funds for children's schools in India and afford infrastructure facilities, as well as school equipment such as tables, chairs, books, stationery, uniforms, and more.
Updation of syllabus’ and education content
It’s no surprise that most schools and colleges follow old and outdated syllabus’ that have little relevance in this day and age. New researches, discoveries, policies, and statistics are explored on a daily basis , and yet, students are stuck with content that was created decades ago.
Their textbooks need to be updates and made a little more relevant with every passing year. Moreover, what students are taught in schools and colleges should align with the job requirements of today. Though such a process is not easy, the funding required for it can potentially be covered through effective education crowdfunding.Making provisions for extra-curricular facilities
In the last decade or two, the educational space has undergone drastic changes that have improved the way students view and experience different forms of learning. No longer is rote learning and academic scores the be-all-end-all of education. Schools today emphasize the importance of different activities across the spectrum that enhance and enrich a child’s educational journey.
Such activities include music, sports, drama & theatre, dance, arts and crafts, and so much more. Infact, extracurricular activities such as these now hold extra credit points that may help a students add value to their resumes. There is however, some disparity in the distribution of such activities, meaning that these extra curricular activities are not available to all students.
Promoting crowdfunding for education projects in performing arts, sports and athletics, field trips, etc., will enable students with lesser opportunities to explore their interests in a fun and unique way. Co-curricular activities work on all- round development of students, infusing elements of teamwork, communication skills, critical thinking, and innovation. But most importantly, these chances must be made available to all - after all, talent is distributed equally but opportunities are not.Facilitating digitization in education
In a world of rapid digitization, the education sector too, has an increasing need to keep up with the times. Today, fewer children find books an appealing resource for knowledge. It is necessary for teaching and learning methods to be updated with latest technologies, and the opportunities it has to offer. While many arguments can be made on the advantage and disadvantages of technology, one thing is for sure - as long as it is used for the right reasons, it will remain a boon. Education is one such sphere that has greatly benefited with the evolution of the digital world.
The hard truth however, remains - not all schools and their facilities are made equal. As India still grapples with ensuring the education of every child, digitization isn’t the first priority in underprivileged schools. This doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same opportunities as other children. Through education fundraising, digital facilities like computers, projectors and other other accessories that support digital education, can be made available to all schools.
Qualitative training of teachers
Most schools have unbalanced teacher-student ratio, which means that there are too too many students but not enough teachers. This makes it impossible for an individual to single-handedly pay close attention to the needs of every student, making the child’s educational experience suffer. This problem stems from the fact that wages for teachers in public schools are insufficient and un-incentivizing. Safety concerns and unhygienic working conditions too have been pointed out as a cause for it. A combination of improved facilities, higher salaries, and frequent training of teachers is the only way to address the issue at hand.
Encouraging literacy programs for uneducated adults
Schools normally teach different subjects in detail, such as languages, mathematics, reading, writing, general knowledge etc. A targeted literacy program aims to pick the best and most important elements of what we’ve been taught, and focus on polishing skills in areas like vocabulary, comprehension, writing, phonemic awareness, phonic instructions, and many others.
Such programs can be beneficial for those who are unable to afford long-term regular education, for adults who haven’t had a chance to go to school, for those who’ve studied but need to polish their skills again. Literacy programs may be conducted as individual workshops, weekly classes, night training for the working populations - the possibilities are endless.
How can literacy programs help the Indian population?
Ensuring more people have access to basic learning and education.
Prepare the adult population for employment opportunities.
Raise awareness about the need for education and reducing illiteracy.
Beneficial for ensuring rural literacy, even in remote areas that don’t have proper schools.
Literacy programs focused on rural and urban women, increasing women literacy rates.
The importance of education in transforming a society for the better is unmatched. By combining the efforts of the government in increasing literacy, with effective crowdfunding for qualitative improvement, we may fully well be able to achieve the four pillars of public education - Access, Equity, Quality, and Governance.
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