Rukmini Banerji says that schools should prepare kids for life after school.

“What do we want a 15- or 16-year-old in India to be able to do, think, and prioritise…

Rukmini Banerji, CEO of the Pratham Education Foundation, said, “We need to rethink everything in a big way.”

She was talking about the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 and the way forward at an explained.Live event called “Pandemic and after: The state of education.”

Banerji said, “We know what the goal of NEP (National Education Policy) is… what do you want children to be?” India needs to know more about what kind of young people it needs. I think that the high school level will only get more and more competitive. Only a small number of jobs are in the “organised sector.” Getting ready for life should start early… The crisis isn’t coming up, it’s happening now. We have such big dreams, but we aren’t giving kids the tools they need to do many of the things that are possible. We put a lot of emphasis on the success of each person… How do we raise a whole group of young people who are ready for life and work and can show it? There is only a grade sheet right now.”

ASER-2022 showed that enrollment has gone up, but Banerji said that different parts of the country have different attendance patterns. “If I look at how the number of enrollments is going up, I don’t see much change in how people show up. Now that we have a lot of students, we need to pay more attention to who shows up… We have several states where the average attendance on any given day is between 55% and 60%, which is a big problem,” she said.

Banerji said this about the loss of learning during the Covid pandemic: “I see everyone is worried about the loss of learning, but I’m not as worried. We could have been in a very different place. Now we have a policy umbrella, real things are happening, and we have up-to-date information. All of these should be used to get the most out of this.”

She also said, “Right now, we need a big, big effort. From the government school side, it looks like a lot more is being done… This is how the ASER data should be looked at: where do we need to go? Once schools opened, both teachers and students were probably much more eager to teach and learn than they were before. How do we keep this energy and momentum going? That’s the real challenge.”

Banerji was talking to The Deccan Era’s Deputy Editor Uma Vishnu.

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Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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