As per the 2011 Census data, India has approximately 99 million children between the age groups of 3 to 6 year, though we can expect this number to increase in 2019 considerably. The Government runs its ‘anganwadis’ towards proving pre-school education, most of these Government-operated Anganwadi lacks necessary human resources and infrastructure facilities. While the anganwadis are supposed to educate over 35 million children, only 31% of the children enrolled in these government-run pre-school education centre on a regular basis.
The situation in Government-run schools and colleges, both urban and rural regions is no different, with most educational institutions lack basic facilities, such as toilets, well-ventilated classrooms, IT infrastructure etc. To make matters worse, as per an ASSOCHAM report, there are almost a 50 per cent vacancies in schools all across India. In the State of Haryana alone, over 800 schools are functioning without a principal, and there is a vacancy of 30000 teachers is yet to be fulfilled. It is not surprising that states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh all have school drop-out rates of almost 24% by the age of 16 years.
The Indian education sector is widely dominated by the private sector, with private organisation offer education from the pre-school to post-graduation. Though the majority of the private schools and colleges might offer good quality infrastructure and teaching staff, the cost of education in private institutions has become very high and has reached almost out of reach of the lower-income and middle-class Indians. For instance, the annual fees of pre-schools operated by private organisations can range anywhere between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 160,000/-.
While the concentration of private educational institutes in metros, Tier-I and Tier-II city is high, its reached it limited in small towns and rural India. Rural India still relies on Government-operated schools and colleges which more than often do not offer quality education, experience high dropout rates and students graduating from this institution often lag behind their peers from urban India.
As per the 2017 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) – Rural, while 86 per cent of children between the ages of 14 to 18 years are enrolled within the formal education system, at the same time about 42% of these children are also employed within the agricultural sector or the household sector, doing domestic chores. The rural parts of India still lag in education due to lack of proper infrastructure, poor quality of education and teaching techniques.
However, many Indian start-ups have undertaken the initiative and bridge the gap between urban and rural India in education. Most of these start-ups are offering a wide array of computer-aided learning programs and app-based learning, which enables providing quality education in every region of the country.
Here are some pioneers in overcoming the odds and providing quality education all over the country:
upGrad is an online education platform offering industry-relevant higher education programs. These programs are designed and delivered in collaborated in with some of the best faculty and industry experts. upGrad offers an immersive learning experience using the latest technology and interactive learning content, and its platform allows professionals to learn from anywhere and at any time.
upGrad was founded in 2015 with a mission to provide industry professionals with higher educational opportunities without disturbing their careers. The online-learning platform was founded by Mayank Kumar, Ravijot Chugh, Phalgun Kompalli and Ronnie Screwvala. While the platform is targeted at working professionals, it has proved a quite useful educational tool for the youth of rural India to enrol in higher education programs without having to migrate away from their homes.
- Learning Delight
Incorporated in 2010, Learning Delight provides digital learning tools in the form of a quiz, riddles, animation and other interactive learning aids which help teachers to engage with students in rural regions. Founded by Vandan Kamdar and Harshal Gohil, Learning Delight is based in Rajkot, Gujarat and is presently operating in over 4000 Government schools in nine districts of Gujarat. The start-up selects schools having a government-funded and operated Computer Aided Learning Program to install its software which is incorporated with a wide array of e-books and multimedia components. Teachers are provided training to operate the software at the time of installation. Although Learning Delight started with limited resources, the start-up has received funding from many investors and organisations.
- Hippocampus Learning Centres
Founded by Umesh Malhotra in 2010, the Bengaluru-based start-up, Hippocampus Learning Centres was incorporated with the idea of offering quality pre-primary education in Tier IV towns in India. Currently, Hippocampus Learning Centres operates about 300 primary school centres employing about 700 teachers and providing education to over 11000 children in the State of Karnataka alone.
Hippocampus Learning Centres recruits, trains and manages an extensive network of teachers operating out of rented village centres. The start-up charges an affordable fee on a monthly basis for the quality educational services offered. Hippocampus Learning Centres have raised about $ 21 million from numerous investors.
- Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions
Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions was established in 2011 and is based in Hyderabad. The start-up aims in offering good quality, accessible and affordable pre-school education in both, urban and rural India. Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions currently owns and operates 21 pre-schools in and around the city of Hyderabad and these pre-schools are managed and run by local women entrepreneurs. Nimisha Mittal and Naveen Kumar founded Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions, and the education start-up has raised approximately $ 285000/- from various investors which include VilCap Investments and Pearson.
- Paathshaala Learning Solutions
Sonal Seth and Rajib Choudhary founded Paathshala Learning Solutions, which is a technology-based consulting start-up. Started its operations in 2012, Paathshala Learning Solutions focuses on instilling a wide array of value education, life skill programs and competency development for children of different groups. The Pune-based education start-up aims towards addressing some of the basic requirements in the Indian education sector, i.e. offering value education in schools, improve employability and impart professional skills within college students and improve quality of teachers. Paathshala Learning Solutions has designed, developed and introduced several programs such as experiential learning, yoga, life skill development program etc.
Founded in 2009, Classle is a Chennai-based education start-up with a mission of bridging the gap between educators and learners; employers and skilled individuals. Founded by V Vaidyanathan, Classle aims to eliminate the barriers of time, language, logistics, and technological reach. Classle functions as an online social learning platform, which also offers mobiles services to students in rural India. Classle offers a two-faced model, wherein individual student users use one side whereas the other side is used by customers who are also potential employers of these students. Classle has over 100 partner colleges and over 200000 registered users within its online learning network. Classle has also received angel funding from Chennai Angels recently.
Though the duty, it might not be possible for the government for improving the state of education system within the country anytime soon considering the budgetary allocation to the education sector and the existing complexities of the Indian education system. While there is a gap between the quality of education in the urban and rural India, as well as in the private and government educational institutes, innovative Indian start-ups are gearing up to narrow this gap, to offer quality education to talent in rural India and play its part in the growth of the country.