2010 Kravis Prize winner Pratham, one of India’s largest non-governmental organizations committed to educating underprivileged children, has a leadership team dedicated to representing the educational interests of the country as a whole.

Pratham News shared a column by Pratham program director, Dr. Rukmini Banerji, on what she calls the myths of education in India. Banerji breaks down five basic assumptions underlying the country’s education department, supporting her argument with data from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), a nationwide survey performed by citizens to gauge the success of school systems throughout the country.

Originally published in the public policy and economics website, Ideas for India, Banerji’s analysis reveals the reality of the education department’s following assumptions:

1. High enrollment means children are in school;
2. Children are in school from age six onwards. India’s RTE Law “guarantees” education from the age of six to the age of fourteen;
3. Children in a given grade or class are homogenous (similar in age, ability etc.);
4. Textbooks are at appropriate age/grade level; and
5. Every year the country’s capability to deliver education is improving.

Banerji’s comprehensive snapshot evidences how these assumptions misrepresent India’s educational climate and, ultimately cheat, underprivileged children of the education they deserve. She closes by challenging education department officials to “stick to reality”:

“If we don’t look hard at our own reality, we will be constructing schools and curriculum for children who do not exist. If we don’t look hard at our own reality, we will be creating laws for situations that are far from real. If don’t look at our own reality, we will not be able to set out reasonable goals or align all efforts of schools, teachers and parents to achieve these goals. If we don’t look at our own reality we will have a school system where only a few succeed and they rest will be left behind, never to catch up again.”

Read the full article here.