With over 5,000 years of rich history, four major religions, 17 major languages and 2,200 dialects, India's heritage, diversity, vibrant culture and growing economy are just cause for pride.
Yet mixed with this beauty are some dismal realities:
- India's population continues to grow and is now well beyond one billion
- The majority of India’s population lives below minimum subsistence levels, surviving on an income of less than US $2 per day
- Over 75% of India's population lives in villages that lack adequate access to basics like water, power and education
Though India still lives in its villages, the latent potential of the rural masses to contribute to and share in the growth of the country remains untapped. The key to developing this potential is education, but the educational landscape of India is bleak, with poorly run government schools comprising 95% of all schools in India.Education imparted in the local language means the majority of graduating students lack basic skills and are neither employable nor able to pursue higher education.
India’s 2007 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) unveiled the harsh realities of the neglected education system in rural India:
- Over 40% of class 2 students cannot read even basic words
- Over 40% of class 3 students cannot recognize numbers higher than 10, and less than half of class 3 students are able to do simple subtraction
- In Tamil Nadu, less than 50% of students in the 3rd through 5th standards can read simple sentences in their own language, and only 10% can read simple sentences in English
Despite several concerted attempts to improve the education system, insufficient oversight and management in the schools has resulted in educational standards rarely being met. Small-scale private projects occasionally meet with success but lack the scalability requirements necessary to truly transform the rural landscape.
Isha Vidhya provides a scalable approach to providing quality education within the limitations present in underdeveloped, rural communities. Isha Vidhya was developed under the guidance of its parent organization, Isha Foundation. With many of its activities and volunteers centered in India’s villages, Isha Foundation has developed the qualifications and understanding required to bring Isha Vidhya’s vision to fruition.