Asha Meeting Minutes



Update on DeCal:

Radical South Asian walking tour happening soon


Info to include in project spotlights:

General background (location, number of people served, target community, how long we have been funding it, any expansions, etc.)


India in the News:

Met with Sikh separatists

Ontario passed 2017 resolution calling 1984 riots as a genocide


Overview on Indian education system:

overall 74.04% literacy rate

higher for youths and for men

female: 65.46% vs. male: 80+%

gap higher in rural areas

As of 2004, 8.1 million children, aged 6-14, not enrolled in school

1 in 40 primary schools are in an open space/tent

Until 2017, 37% of Indian schools did not have electricity

modern education system (complete with English language) has its origins with Lord Macaulay in the 1830s

subject differentiation and discrimination

state higher education board established beginning in 1920s

consistent goal of universal education

28 states and 7 union territories

National Curriculum Framework and State Curriculum

national textbooks

Kendriya Vidyalays (government-run, urban)

School system

lower primary (6-10), upper primary (11-12), high (13-16), and higher secondary (17-18)

CBSE and ICSE streams

exams after 10th and 12 th

public schools are called ‘government-run’

private schools may use different textbooks, syllabi, and schedules

private schools have more freedom in teaching structure, especially in lower levels

private schools may follow Senior Cambridge stream or follow Montessori methods

government schools may still have fees, but much lower

medium ground: ‘grant-in-aid’ schools

Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (2010)

made government school free for ages 6-14*

25% reservation for economically-backward students in private schools

importantly, ‘compulsory’ means government must provide education, not that parents must send kids to school

concurrent issue; state subsidies

Expenditure on education is 3% of GDP


(Crenshaw, 1989): intersectionality is ‘a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects'

What intersections exist in India?





And, in some cases, like education, heuristics may matter even more than the technical labels

Lack of structure centralization and enforcement doesn’t help


Our Project Communities:

Little Stars: students from slum communities

Rewards Trust: children from Dalit rural communities

Jamghat: street children

Tihar: incarcerated individuals and their families

Awantika Vidhya Bhawan: children of migrant farmers and day laborers

Mera Sahara: children of day laborers


On an average, less than three school teachers per primary school in India

1 in 6 teaching positions is vacant

Downsizing contributes to the problem

Less than 5% of education budgets spent on teacher salaries

Teacher absenteeism chronic

Reports of implementation of English medium


Recent push for English

currently main medium of instruction in Nagaland and J&K

Are teachers truly trained enough to be teaching solely in English?

state governments trying to fix this with ineffective short training

Disconnect between government policy and teacher training

Often just reading from textbooks without understanding

General deficiencies in English training in India

Research by UNESCO and others shows children learn most effectively in their mother tongue

Can only be practiced in school, especially in the case of lower-class children


First fully literate Indian state, very small gender gap, great HDI statistics

Innovative teaching methods

Distancing itself from the one-examination grade promotion (to more individualistic Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation)

Introduction of Information Technology coursework

Combatting ‘structural violence’


What does this mean for us?

One model does not fit at all

Language and other barriers

Diversity of communities and needs

While important, engineers are not the only field that need training. One place to start? Teachers.

Brain drain is real