Poor quality education is leading to poor learning outcomes in India, ultimately pushing children out of the education system and leaving them vulnerable to child labour, abuse and violence. Many classrooms continue to be characterized by teacher-centred rote learning, corporal punishment and discrimination.
Learning assessments show that many of those children who are in school are not learning the basics of literacy and numeracy or the additional knowledge and skills necessary for their all-round development as specified under the Right to Education Act.
Much remains to be done to ensure a child-friendly learning environment where all children benefit from gender-sensitive and inclusive classrooms, as well as the availability of improved water, sanitation and hygiene, and mid-day meal practices.
Every girl and boy in India has the fundamental right to quality education, an education one that helps them to acquire basic literacy and numeracy, enjoy learning without fear and feel valued and included irrespective of where they come from.
So that all girls and boys learn, UNICEF prioritizes equitable and quality early childhood and elementary education, with grade-appropriate learning outcomes. For this, UNICEF is providing technical support for the convergence of the Integrated Childhood Development Scheme with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan through curriculum development, capacity building of Early Childhood Education (ECE) functionaries and teacher support in Anganwadi centres and schools.
UNICEF promotes, supports and innovates significant aspects of the education sector through working across the continuum of education, meaning that children transition from early learning (pre-primary) to primary to secondary education. Our focus is not just access, but learning.
To ensure every child is in school and learning we are working in partnership with the government to build the capacity of government departments and institutions for effective coordination, implementation and monitoring of the education sector with focus on learning, equity, gender inclusiveness and disaster risk reduction. We are also supporting the generation of high quality disaggregated data, analysis, and its effective use to inform planning, budget decisions and performance monitoring of the education sector.
Innovative approaches to education include working to change the classroom dynamics through active child participation, promoting gender equality, keeping children healthy and safe and ensuring that schools are not isolated from the communities they are serving. This includes supporting ‘child centered pedagogy’ in multilingual and multi-grade situations and providing technical support to build the capacity of teacher education institutions to better train teachers on inclusive, child-centred and life skills-based pedagogy for improved learning outcomes for children and improved transition of girls to secondary schools.
Continued support is being provided to improve learning and foundational skills through curriculum reviews, development of activity-based resource materials and promotion of mentoring and ICT-led supportive supervision. Systemic capacity has been strengthened in tribal states in curriculum and multilingual material development and training of teacher educators to improve teaching and learning practice using online platforms and face-to-face training.
Some states are implementing child-centred pedagogy and effective models to improve learning outcomes of children. In Bihar, innovative strategies such as sports and art education to improve early language learning and numeracy are being implemented in two districts. In Uttar Pradesh a technical support group has been formed and capacitated to improve pedagogical practice, with intensive interventions in 4 districts. In West Bengal, after successful implementation of the Early Grade Reading and Numeracy programme in Classes 1 and 2, a transition plan was developed to implement in Classes 3 and 4.
In Gujarat, support was provided for the revision of activity-based learning materials for primary classes and for the capacity development of teacher educators on language development.
Many states have supported the use of evidence and ICTs to strengthen child-centred pedagogy and the academic support system. In Maharashtra, UNICEF strengthened the capacity of teacher educators to use assessment data to inform supportive supervision. In addition, support was provided to develop a remedial programme to improve learning outcomes in the upper primary grades. In Telangana and Karnataka digitization of learning materials and establishment of an online teacher feedback system are innovative initiatives that were supported to address disparities in learning levels.