CSF’s Next Phase of Growth – Taking Stock of RTE Implementation and Other Updates

April 15, 2015 by Ashish Dhawan, Central Square Foundation

As we brace for summer, the education front in India is heating up as well. Recently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development announced its consultation and design plan for a New Education Policy. This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of our nation’s education, and for those interested, we encourage you to submit your ideas and participate in the process actively. To draw attention to areas in school education that are in need of reform, we have also prepared India Education Vision 2030, a paper that aims to visualise a future landscape of school education in India.

India also completed five years since a landmark piece of legislation in our education history, the Right to Education Act (RTE), was enforced. Although the Act has resulted in significant improvements towards ensuring universal elementary education for all our children, certain provisions of the RTE remain neglected.

One such provision in this Act is Section 12(1)(c), which mandates 25% reservation for children from disadvantaged groups in private unaided non-minority schools in India. If implemented effectively, this provision has the potential to impact the lives of 16 million children in India. But today, many potential beneficiaries do not have access to this opportunity.

Our recently launched status report, State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c), clearly highlights that out of the 2 million entry-level seats reserved for underprivileged children, only 29% were filled in 2013-14. We completed this report in collaboration with researchers from the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, Accountability Initiative and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, to analyse the status of implementation of this provision across India, identify challenges and recommend solutions for effective implementation. The report analyses state rules and notifications across the country and highlights innovative practices from states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan that can be contextualised and replicated across other states. We launched this report at a convening on March 24 that was well attended by leading voices from academia, civil society and media. We encourage you to read our report and share any feedback you may have.

On the school leadership front, we are pushing for a shift from seniority-based to merit-based selection of school principals in government service. Gujarat’s Head Teacher Aptitude Test is one pioneering effort that we are documenting through a report and sharing with other interested states like Haryana. We are developing the knowledge base around school leadership through a regular convening of school leadership institutions. We were delighted to host Steve Munby, CEO of the UK-based CfBT Education Trust, who shared his ideas for reimagining the role of school principals in India.

We are also strengthening our efforts to build the capacity of our teachers. To this end, we recently partnered with Avanti Fellows to launch Project Tarang, which aims to develop blended open online courses aligned with the B.Ed. curriculum. This adds a new dimension to our work in teacher education in addition to our partnership with Teach For India in developing Firki, a teacher development portal.

Exploring the role that technology can play in improving student learning, we are developing the Hindi version of the Khan Academy platform. This will offer videos and exercises mapped to the NCERT Maths curriculum for classes 5 to 8. Over the summer, we plan to pilot this platform in schools that cater to low-income children. We are actively seeking partners to support us in this pilot’s implementation.

To deepen our support to early-stage entrepreneurs with powerful ideas and the potential for scalable impact, we launched EdCelerate, a year-long accelerator programme that provides structured support to entrepreneurs for building their organisation’s capacity to grow. As part of our first phase of Edcelerate, we provided grants to:

  • LeapForward, Mumbai, which uses technology to empower teachers on English language teaching
  • Moinee Foundation, Jaipur, which improves student learning through quiz based modules
  • Sajeevta Foundation, Ahmedabad, which enables social inclusion in classrooms with children from diverse backgrounds
  • Social Cops, Delhi, which leverages data to measure effectiveness of education programmes.

We continue our effort to share knowledge and best practices with the ecosystem, and hope that you regularly read the CSF EdMonitor, a weekly compilation of the latest developments in school education. If you wish to share this resource with others in your organisation or networks, request them to subscribe here.

Finally, I want to share with you that I will soon be assuming the role of Executive Chairman in order to focus my energies on providing strategic direction to Central Square Foundation’s work. As I transition into this role, CSF is looking for a Chief Executive Officer to lead us into the next phase of growth. We are also searching for a Policy Director to lead our research, advocacy and communications efforts. We would greatly appreciate your support in helping us identify potential candidates for these critical positions.

As always, we appreciate you being a part of the movement to achieve quality school education for all our children. Please do drop us a line with any feedback you may have for us.


Ashish dhawan signature

Ashish Dhawan