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India’s Inability To Meet The Education Demand With Supply [Part 1]

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By Diksha Langthasa:

Part 1 of a 2 part series.

We live in a country where colleges declare cut offs reaching as high as 100%, a country that produces geniuses like Arvind Adiga and Nandan Nilekani. Yet, we are also a country that has multitudes of illiterate children who have never graced the compound of a school as a student. Our country has a growth rate of 8% but ranks 134 in the literacy report compiled by the United Nations.

The problem of illiteracy plagues countries of economic backgrounds. The United States of America ranks at 45, while the UK ranks at 44. Both are countries which figure in the top 10 in the UN Human Development Report. It is instead a much smaller country like Georgia which ranks 1st in the report. Similarly, in India too, it is a small economy like Kerala which manages a near 100% literacy while prosperous states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh lag behind. In both instances, we can see that the size of the economy is not a dominant factor in improving the literacy rate of a country. Instead, it is policies of the government which will help in best use of this human capital through education and adequate spending.

The Right to Education Act was introduced in India in 2009 in which the main responsibility rested on the shoulders of private institutions which were to reserve 25 % seats for the economically weaker sections. Yes, the government did a noble thing by securing seats for them on paper. However, it also completely ignored the needs of those belonging to this class. Many often cite that they don’t have an appropriate atmosphere at home to study; others complain their teachers don’t teach properly. Both reasons are true when we take a real look at their lives. Many children have siblings and households to take care of while the case of teachers not being competent does seem credible. Why do we not enroll our children in the government institutions?

While the primary education system itself is at most defunct and inefficient, the institutions for higher studies too don’t present a rosy picture. While I read in a newspaper that only one-fifth of the total children who appeared for class 10 board examination went on to complete their schooling; even less than one-fifth of that portion pursue higher studies. On top that, it is impossible to accommodate all of these students. There is an absolute dearth of good education institutions so there will always remain those who face a bleak future due to a mediocre guidance in higher studies.

And that is where our country’s vast human capital suffers. Our country has a young population with almost 60 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 59 (the working class) with a majority of this being young adults. This vulnerable group required the highest level of guidance to navigate them to a safe destination where they may escape from poverty and sufferings. Imagine what would happen if each one-sixtieth person were equipped with skills like speaking in English, performing Arithmacy and adequate tuition. Our skilled labour force will lead the way for the economic growth of our country.

It is important for our country to reduce the gap between the demand and supply of education. This huge surplus of demand for education should be met by entrepreneurs and government alike by increasing the supply of education. More institutions providing quality education should be opened instead of opening schools to make a profit on the excess demand of the population. Government schools can have better infrastructure, better and efficient teachers with a system to keep the inefficient on check, and providing incentives to students to attend schools.

A survey by National Adult Literacy Association in 2005 shows the link between literacy and the cost effects on the economy of a country. It shows that a large economy is a result of a skilled workforce and not the other way around. The report shows how education increases productivity, provides skills to people, increases the labour force and thus increases the economic growth of a country. It was after this report that Ireland decided to increase spending in the public sector from 1 million pounds to 30 million pounds. It is time that India too takes such steps and capitalizes on its huge youthful population.

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  1. Meghavatshini

    One has to consider that when one talks about a dearth of any sort in India, it stems from the problem of population. Paradoxically, in spite of having such a large population, institutions face the lack of good teachers. 50% of DU’s teaching jobs are vacant. Where are all the good teachers? The sheer inability to provide education is not an issue with easy solutions.

    Kerala may have the maximum number of graduates but a lot of them word as waiters and cleaners because their education cannot be put to a good use. This is another population related issue, the sheer meaninglessness of education.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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