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What Indian Entrepreneurs Can Do To Solve India’s Education Problem

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Canadian High CommissionEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryGirlInSchool, a campaign by the High Commission of Canada, Nutrition International and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate for equal opportunities for girls in India. Join the conversation by publishing a story here.

India’s education system should be the envy of the world. As the world’s largest democracy it has the people who are willing to learn and grow, but what it lacks is adequate funding and infrastructure. With state officialdom and government intervention only able to do so much so fast, people are increasingly turning to India’s entrepreneurs for inspiration. Let’s take a look at five key ways in which the nation’s innovators can help a people that are more populous than Europe – to finally be able to stand alongside the educational strength of the US and the UK.

Lending Support to Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms

If you want to know how entrepreneurs can help, then look no further than the world of peer-to-peer lending. In a country where funding and personal finance are often insurmountable barriers to entry, the ability to increase the liquidity of any given household will be the key.

By being able to lend and receive money from your peers, you will be able to juggle finances with greater flexibility. With too many children forced out of school due to poverty and the need to work at a young age to provide for their families, this will prove to be a monumental step forward. By putting new lending tools in people’s hands, the entrepreneurs of India will allow them to make progress where there were previously just barriers.

Using Technology to Make the Country Smaller

One of the most beautiful things about India is the sheer scale of the landscape, but this also presents one of its most significant challenges. Online technology will increasingly allow students in remote locations to study at more prestigious institutions. This will broaden their horizons to what is possible, and also make the country a smaller and more easily navigable place from an educational standpoint.

This could be especially important for closing the educational gender gap – which remains a work in progress. If every young girl were given access to online learning materials, then we would see an acceleration in the closing of the gender gap. Not only would this be good for women specifically, but it would also be good for India as a whole. Women bring a fresh approach and a different perspective on many common problems. The more of them able to receive a first-class education by studying online from remote locations the better.

Provide Seed Capital to Help Launch Projects

Entrepreneurial activities generally create two things: cutting-edge resources, and money. While it will be of great benefit to the education sector to receive firsthand help and advice from entrepreneurs, their donations are just as important.

By starting up charities and trusts, entrepreneurs can help provide seed capital for a host of exciting new educational ventures. From building schools, online learning to paying for teacher training and restocking new textbooks, everything is possible with the right funding.

The reason this is so important is that anyone in Indian can have the next big idea — they’re not limited solely to those who have already achieved great things. By providing an accessible source of funding, entrepreneurs can help bridge the gap between the education system of today, and where we need to get to as a nation.

Create Online Teacher Training to Improve Standards

Knowledgeable teachers from top writers are the most important resource they can have access to. Unfortunately, standards vary greatly across subjects, areas, and within any given school. The reason for this is simple – the training teachers receive is not consistent across the board.

If you want to be seen as an educational superpower, then you need to invest significantly in the people who will be delivering the education in the classroom. Wealthy entrepreneurs can fund teacher training schools that will help standardise the quality of education that every child can expect.

Not only that, but they can also feed the lessons they have learnt about the latest technology back into the very training institutions that they’re funding. This will enable the syllabus taught in every school to be both rigorous, and current.

Help Reduce Costs Through Economies of Scale

There are a number of exciting startup educational solutions today. The great thing about entrepreneurs is their ability to network and collaborate. Rather than different schemes being run by completely separate government departments, entrepreneurial ventures offer the chance to build networks.

By coming together, schools and universities will be able to pool their resources and develop larger educational networks. Over time this could result in a number of specialist schools which then become centres of excellence whose expertise is world-renowned.

This may sound a little way off at the moment, but it is the movement of the entrepreneurial class into the education sector – that will make it happen. By being openminded and forward thinking, they will move past the barriers and politics of the government led system which just isn’t working at the moment.

There is plenty of work to do, but certainly, there are exciting times ahead.

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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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