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Our Vision

The Indian Context

India, after sixty years as a Republic, continues to demonstrate the strength of its political institutions. Economic growth has brought significant improvements in material conditions and opportunities in most parts of the country. Yet, it is still home to too large a number of citizens who are unable to live lives of dignity, free from the fear of poverty, preventable disease or social and political oppression and violence. In spite of constitutional directives the possibility of basic liberties and a more equitable society does not seem any closer for many.

Rapid economic growth has also led to increasing disparities and often diminished quality of life in urban and rural areas. This is potentially a source of future conflicts and a matter of concern in the face of rapid environmental degradation that affects all but especially threatens the poor.

Education and institutions of learning are crucial both to creation of individual capabilities and also strong social responses that might help us meet these challenges. Education and learning contribute not just to livelihood and marketable skill but also nurture the sensibilities needed for human well-being and flourishing. Equally importantly, education helps build the capabilities that promote just and equitable social and political arrangements.

Principles

VISION

Azim Premji Foundation aspires to facilitate a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society

ENABLERS

We work in education and related development areas - both for direct impact and for their large positive multiplier

STRATEGY

We are an operating organization for deep, at-scale and institutionalized impact on the quality of education in India, along with related development areas (e.g. health, ecology, governance and others)

The vision of the Azim Premji Foundation is deeply rooted in the Indian Constitution which establishes the idea of the Indian republic. As the Preamble to the Constitution states, all Indians are constitutionally guaranteed the following rights:

Our vision of education has been drawn from the National Policy of Education which flows from the values articulated in the Constitution. The aims of education stated in National Policy of Education have been the cornerstone of our approach to education reforms and are worth examining here:

Aims of Education (National Policy of Education)

  • JUSTICE, social, economic and political.
  • LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
  • EQUALITY of status and of opportunity.
  • FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.


    The Landscape of Education in India

    While the policies and philosophy of the Indian education system have been deeply informed by Constitutional values, and are laudable in all respects, the results on the ground have been mixed. This is not entirely surprising given the vast, complex and diverse canvas covered by the Indian education system. A few facts may serve to illustrate this point:

    Scale:

    • To further the goals enshrined in the Constitution of India.
    • To recognize that education is for all. It is fundamental to our complete development – material and spiritual.
    • To refine sensitivities and perceptions that contribute to national cohesion.
    • To develop scientific temper and independence of mind.
    • To develop manpower for different purposes of economy.

     Diversity and Complexity:
  • 1.43 (DISE 2012-13 State Report card) million schools and 199 million children enrolled (2011-12 data from DISE 2012-13 state report card); 8.1 million children out of school.
  • 7 million education functionaries, including about 5.5 million teachers.
  • Government schools account for over 90% of primary rural schools and the government and its partners run the largest mid day meal scheme in the world.

    Despite the complexity of providing quality education in this environment there has been significant improvement in areas such as infrastructure, access and enrolment. Some key elements include:

    • 29 states (INCLUDING TELANGANA) , 662 districts – (DISE STATE REPORT CARD 2012-13) and 5451 sub-districts (no of CD blocks 1116) (census 2011). Average of 2162.7 schools per district (DISE 2012-13) where each district is dramatically different from the other – ecologically, culturally and socio-economically.
    • 447 living languages (http://www.ethnologue.com); 22 official languages and 29 languages with more than 1 million speakers (Wikipedia)
    • Scattered tribal populations, habitations in remote areas, girl children, religious and linguistic minorities and the physically challenged present in large numbers and they often have special needs.
      • Education as a Fundamental Right: Children are legally entitled to free and compulsory elementary education under The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE)
      • Access: 99% of the rural population now has a primary school within 1 km
      • Enrollment: Enrollment has increased by 18 percent points since 2001. Net Enrollment Ratio today is about 90.78 in primary and 64.24 in upper primary (DISE 2012-13)
      • Infrastructure: Sharp improvement in school facilities and number of schools since 2001
      • No of Teachers: The pupil teacher ratio has been improving quickly and is soon expected to reach 30:1 under the RTE.

        However the goals of universalization of education, quality of learning and equitable opportunities for all have remained elusive.

        • 35% of children in grade 1 cannot recognize numbers 1 – 9.
        • Almost 50% children in grade 5 cannot read a grade 2 level text .
        • A central issue is that no real learning happens – classes are “rote driven” with undue focus on memorization rather than conceptual understanding and application.

        State-run education systems which represent the lion’s share of educational activity in India in both school and higher education are in need of urgent reform and revitalization. The Foundation partners with various state governments in its goal to facilitate deep, at-scale and institutionalized impact in these areas.

        • Universal Education: Literacy is only 74.04% (Male –82.14%, Female – 65.46%) (census 2011).
        • Retention: Only 39% children reach 10th grade; of these only 40% pass out.
        • Quality: There many dimensions of quality which includes the holistic development of a child’s physical mental and emotional faculties. Even if we exclude these “higher” levels of aspiration and examine the basics of development of basic skills the situation is alarming. For example:
          • 41.6% of children in grade 1 cannot recognize numbers 1 – 9 (ASER 2013)
          • 53% children in grade 5  cannot read a grade 2 level text (ASER 2013)
        • Equity: Girls and socially disadvantaged backgrounds are 20% lower in literacy – and similarly disadvantaged on all parameters