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The education of a million marginalized children in India

The education of a million marginalized children in India

                                                                                  Javeed Mirza (




India is seething with a humongous growth in population. It is close to 1.3 billion at present and expected to overtake China in another 10 years to become the most populous country in the world. The Indian subcontinent of undivided India (includes Pakistan and Bangladesh) has 1.7 billion population with over a quarter of them living below the Poverty line. SDG4 is most relevant to the Indian subcontinent, mired in poverty and inequality.


With the growth in population there is a needs demand, rise in expectations and the myriad complex solutions required to meet them. A basic requirement that is fundamental to meeting the challenge, is the education of its people. In India, literacy is around 70% and varies with the caste/religious composition. The poor folks coming from the lower castes and tribes and the minorities have the lowest level of education. The quality of education is abysmal. The Indian government spends around 2.5% of its GDP on education (a good portion of which is allocated to the prestigious Indian institutions like the IIT’s and IIM’s that produce brilliant engineers and scientists). It passed the Right to Education Act (RTE) in 2009 guaranteeing education for all children from age 6 to 14. However, the lack of political will to implement the provisions of the act and the unwillingness to commit financial resources towards its implementation, has stalled the educational progress. The Right to free and good quality education for all, remains a distant dream.


The Indian government is expecting the private sector to meet the educational demands. Access to education in profit- making private sector is financially impossible for most of the poor folks. They need to attend the Government. schools. The government run schools lack in infrastructure, …. students squat on the floor, girls have no bathroom facilities, absence of books and writing materials, high absenteeism of teachers and an administration that is bureaucratic and corrupt. Most students drop out before they complete high school. Read Kunal Chawla’s article “Major problems with the Indian Education system”


A rote-memorization methodology of education is followed in the government school set up. A servile educational system in consonance with the caste hierarchy gives no place for critical thinking. The Indian ruling class comes from the upper and middle castes. Their children attend expensive private schools where standard education is provided.


The functioning of the Indian democratic system has given some leverage to the poor folks as they are able to use the power of their vote to change the ruling party and choose another party. The ruling party have met this resistance from the lower castes by offering “reservation” in education and jobs (like affirmative rights in the USA) to the lower castes and tribes (this reservation is however, denied to the Muslims and Christians even though they are also extremely poor). Thanks to Reservation, there has been a limited growth in the education of the lower castes. However, their share of the quota in education and jobs is lower than their share of the population.


Unemployment is extremely high. It is not uncommon to see a thousand candidates line up to apply for a few job openings. Absence of income affects mostly the Poor. NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) thinks that 90% of the engineering graduates are unemployable due to low-quality education and lack of skills. Provision of relevant and adequate technical and vocational skills that meet changing demand, is another important requirement of Education. Entrepreneurial education is missing as the business oriented upper castes prefer their own family members to learn and carry on the business. The lower castes have no Entrepreneurs to emulate.


Critical minority segments that need high educational priority

Dalit and Tribal education


A thousand years of exploitation and oppression of the lower castes by the upper castes has created a built-in handicap for the lower castes.  It will take many generations of educational, social and economic empowerment to overcome. A big leap in empowerment was taken by the Dalit leader, Dr Ambedkar, when he demanded separate “reservations” in the political sphere for his people. He rebelled against the mainstream leadership of MK Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other Congress leaders. With persistence he was able to incorporate the provisions of this reservation in the new Constitution of the republic of India (of which he was the architect). In the three generations post to Indian independence in 1947, the Dalits have gathered political clout and are able to exert a certain amount of pressure on the government to heed to their demands.  However, this clout is marginal and has not really helped the Dalit gain social and economic emancipation. Stigma and intrinsic backwardness continue to hound them. They are still at the lowest echelons in terms of literacy, longevity and are beset with huge unemployment and underemployment. The ruling parties channelize their anger and frustration, with a mixed bag of appeasement (example, by appointing a Dalit as India’s president), of social oppression (cruel beatings, rape, incarceration etc.)  and by dividing the Lower castes into multiple sub-castes and making one subcaste fight the other.


Private educational enterprises


There is a mushrooming of private non-profit organizations that are catering to the education of the poor. These are run by small entrepreneurs. They charge an affordable fee and provide a better education since they monitor the working of the teachers and are eager to show the parents that their children can read and write and take the exams.


Madrasa education


The Madrasa education is a sub-category within the private educational enterprise and has distinct elements.  It is also run by entrepreneurs but is funded by Muslim community philanthropists and works on a paltry budget.  Around 4% of India’s 200 million population attend madrasas (as per the Justice Sachar committee report on Education). Here children are provided religious education that includes learning to read the Quran and its memorization. For  a limited number of students, it also includes higher education in Islamic studies. The script they follow is very antiquated and limit the children’s growth in various ways. The students are not provided with basic learning of languages (English and regional). They are not taught Math or science or job oriented vocational skills. Most students come out as paupers and are thrown on the streets to eke their living. Like their compatriots of the poor castes, they are the most deprived. Secular Education of good quality along with skills training is required so their potential can be tapped and productivity harnessed. Failure to do so is increasing frustration among all strata of the poor. The politicians, unable to think beyond serving themselves and their masters, devise plans to divert the attention of the people from pressing demands and have recently launched lynching, incarceration and political isolation to demean them and build hate against them in non-Muslims.     


Girls Education


Gender discrimination is rampant in India.  Cases of dowry and atrocities against women can be read every day in all nooks and corners of the country. Unlike Boys education, Girls education is not considered to be of high priority. Girls are deprived of good education and their literacy is lower than the boys. Girls from the lower castes and minorities have the lowest education of all. In the government schools, provision of bathroom facility is missing for girls. They are entrusted with home chores or taking care of the younger siblings as the parents need to go to work. Fear of sexual attack also makes the parents cautious and hesitant to send their daughters to school. Lack of transportation and absence of provision of meals in school, cast a further burden on the parents. A drive to convince the parents of the need for Girls education and the provision of various facilities is required to drive Girls educational attendance. Transportation, provision of meals and of safety, bathroom facilities as well as material resources to study; provision of uniforms etc., are needed. In case of parents who are very poor and need the girls to augment their income, there needs to be a provision to give monetary support to the parents, so that they free the girls to attend the school.


The use of Technology to build mass education


Educational Technology has taken great strides in the last decade and is able to meet the challenge of mass education. Massive Free Open-ware Online courses (MOOCs) backed by international organizations, state govts., UNESCO & private institutions have opened doors for learning by the poor. The possibility of imparting good quality education at a low cost is on the horizon.  However, the poor still lack the tools to avail them (computer, broadband, books and Trained Teachers). Internet is weak in most places and expensive. Of late in India, a spurt is seen in the demand for smart phones and a decrease in the cost of broadband. This is opening the possibilities for learning. Towards getting electoral support, the government proclaims that it is willing to provide more funds and facilities for education. However, there is no comprehensive reform of the education system that addresses the multitude of problems besetting the system. Bureaucracy and corruption are systemic, putting huge breaks in the implementation of any meaningful reform.   


The global educational organizations and philanthropist supported education


The Indian law of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandates that a 2% contribution of corporate profit be diverted for societal benefit. The Indian corporations are mostly run by rich families and they have invested some of the CSR funds into education, health and other areas, through family-run charitable institutions.   Notable exception is the Azim Premji foundation for public education. Mr. Premji, a philanthropist par excellence, has invested many billions of dollars in the improvement of the quality of the Indian public-school system and in Teacher training.  The combined strength of the working of these institutions address less than two percent of the Indian school going population. There is a high need for the involvement of global educational and philanthropic associations in expanding the Indian educational outreach. The UN has stipulated global Sustainable Development Goals. However, they are guidelines only and not mandated. Its implementation is left to the goodwill of the government A few exceptional philanthropists have risen to meet the SDG challenge. Prominent among them are Her Excellency Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, who instituted the Education Above All (EAA), an organization to help underserved areas and marginalized youth get education. An important goal of the EAA was the education of 10 million OOSC (Out of School Children’s) education. It has pursued the target diligently and achieved great success. Other philanthropists like Mr. Jack Ma and Mr. Chen Yidan are dedicated to advance the frontiers of global education to cover undeserved areas and underserved populace. There are other philanthropists also, who are fully committed to the growth of education.  The strength of such forces is miniscule when compared to the vast needs.  In the Indian subcontinent there is a desperate need to provide Literacy as well as qualitatively enhance the education of hundreds of millions of children and youth. Those who are deprived of education have the right as human beings to avail the same. They are imbued with the same intelligence, capability, love of learning as any of the educated. What is missing is the opportunity and the wherewithal necessary to obtain it. Humanitarian consideration demand that all concerned people take up this issue with seriousness. The philanthropist can play a far larger role than what has been attempted so far. We need to overcome the dark forces of Illiteracy and Poverty from enmeshing the lives of the poor. The greatest happiness one can achieve is not the accumulation of wealth but the diversification of wealth from the private and the state sector to the productive, essential and exhilarating sectors of health and education. It is a sad tragedy that the most advanced country in the world spends an annual $750 billion on Defense and likewise all developed countries defense budgets get bloated each year as they compete and threaten each other. The leaders who lead them have lost their sense of balance. They will leave no recognized legacy except that of destructive spending and denial of justice to millions of humans, who pleaded for succor from hunger and yearned for education.


Proposal for the education of one million minority children


My proposal is to provide education for one million children of the marginalized segments of India.  Towards providing this mass education it is proposed that Free and open-ware educational tools like Khan academy and MOOCS (Massive Open-ware Online Courses) be availed. Organizations like UNESCO, EAA (Education Above All) have supported the growth of educational tools that benefit education. Government institutions in India like the distance learning Ambedkar University and IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) as well as the prestigious Indian Institute of Technologies (IIT’s) have, like the Harvard, MIT and Berkeley sponsored EdX, kept their course work in the open for students to avail them for free. Hujiang in China provides technological solutions for mass education spread over in different corners of the country. Pioneering work is being done in this area and companies like Allison, Rachel etc. are offering technological tools at low prices towards furthering mass education.  


Funding models of Education have been developed and are evolving.  EAC (Educate A Child) is a subdivision of EAA and it has fostered a model where it partners with highly established educational organizations in the underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia. These partners elaborate a detailed plan and if approved, they are financially supported by EAC to an approximate tune of $100/per child per project (typically 3-year projects) for student enrollment in excess of 30,000.  Educate-Girls, a non-profit in India, initiated a Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education. This ties funding to outcomes. It claimed to achieve and surpass its targets.   


Enlightened organizations, philanthropists, educationists and officials (as seen at the WISE summit) have expressed their willingness to support universal literacy and applied learning as part of their commitment to meeting Sustainable Development Goals. What needs to be worked out are the implementation mode with appropriate funding and technology support.


The Indian government has data identifying areas of critical shortages (data of dropped out students and OOSC) in all districts of the country. It also has outlined educational policies (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) in support of the Right to Education (RTE) act to provide free education for children between 6-14 ages. The government has only had a partial success in the implementation of these schemes as there are endemic constraints (poor salaries for “Volunteer” teachers), absenteeism of teachers, transportation issues, lack of educational materials, non-provision of lunch and lack of motivation of students.


A coalition of non-government non-profit educational institutions is the first step.  They should be steeped in educational practices and must have dedicated and trained staff. Vetting these partners for credibility in performance is important. Critical role is in the mobilization of the students in rural sectors where parental support for education is low. Volunteers are required who will constantly be engaged in mobilization of support and ensuring the smooth functioning of the schools. Wherever possible, existing infrastructure support like school buildings and educational facilities should be rented as well as government-constructed rural buildings should be availed. Government instituted curriculum can be used and improvised, so students learning here are on par with education provided in government run schools.  The Coalition should have leadership with vision, dedication and educational knowhow.


Quality education should be enforced, with support for developing critical thinking skills. Universal values of tolerance, consideration for others, and amity between all humans needs to be reinforced. Education should be job oriented, sustainable and be enriching to the mind and the soul. It can be a fast track education of a couple of years for the upper age youth who dropped out from school (12 to 17 age) and in case of children, the effort should be to raise their educational level in a sustained way from the ground up.


Many of the established educational institutions need a revamping of their administrative procedures to conform to new technologies and new thinking. The implementation of the modern teaching methodology and adherence to international accounting standards and transparency in working, will elevate the functioning of the coalition partners to a high level and they will tremendously benefit from it.  Over a period, as such implementation of mass education is extended to millions of youth, there will a tremendous boost in the overall productivity of the school system.


 The figure of one million is audacious but in terms of the South Asian context, it is a small and doable number. Learning from this one experience, multiple similar programs can be launched, so that the vast need of educational amelioration is met within the shortest possible time. It would be a great tragedy if the potential and lives of all the marginalized was wasted for want of effort and unwillingness to address challenges. If challenges are not met today, the same will become impediments for the peaceful societal growth of tomorrow. They will come knocking in the living rooms of the happy and content naysayers and become a threat. We cannot live ignoring and denying the urgent needs of the needy. Unhappily the political Leadership in most countries is content with satisfying their own constituents and their loved ones. They need to go beyond that and understand the dimensions and severity of the global problems. The pockets of poverty in some corner will not remain isolated but will reach out to affluent areas and bring misery. The masses of the poor have nothing to lose but may be gratified in taking revenge over those who they perceive to have ignored them. There needs to be an international revival of ethical standards with global organizations and leaders placing the prosperity and happiness of humanity, high above their vested interests. Socrates, Plato, Avicenna, Ghazali, Vivekananda, Paulo Frei and other leaders dreamed of such an education. The time has come to bring it to fruition. The SDG4 objective to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” is a laudable goal in the right direction. It is for us, the educational leadership, to pool our thoughts and efforts together and to ensure that it is implemented in all areas where it is needed. It must prioritize the critical needs areas and make them the starting point.    


I have had the privilege to interact with and to integrate several non-profit educational organizations working in diverse parts of India with long-standing educational experience. They cater to the education of around half a million underprivileged students of India.   They have all expressed a sincere interest in implementing Literacy and in enhancing the quality of education of the marginalized. These non-profits will be the base that will collate the task of achieving the goal. They will work with the Government educational institutions that are mandated to provide education for the poor. I appeal to all philanthropic and educational institutions to help achieve this goal of bringing education to one million marginalized children of India. Innovative ideas and procedures for achieving the goal will be most welcome. Indeed,     new ideas, procedures, tools and resources are essential.  We cannot achieve anything without them.  I would be happy to provide details and concrete plan to all institutions and individuals who share the vision and are willing to contribute to its realization.


Thank you so much

Most sincerely and respectfully

Javeed Mirza, Convener,

Coalition of non-profit minority educational institutions of India     

+17185106778 Whatsapp

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KERRY GLASGOWIS HUMANITY'S LAST BEST CHANCE - Join search for Sustainaabilty's Curricula

101ways-generation.docx 101 ways education can save the world WHAT IF WE DESIGNED LIFELONG LIVELIHOOD LOEARNING SO THAT so that teachers & students, parent & communities were empowered to be ahead of 100 times more tech rather than the remnants of a system that puts macihnes and their exhausts ahead of human life and nature's renewal 2016 is arguably the first time thet educatirs became front and centre to the question that Von neummn asked journalist to mediate back in 1951- what goods will peoples do with 100 times more tech per decade? It appears that while multilaterals like the Un got used in soundbite and twittering ages to claim they valued rifghts & inclusion, pubblic goods & safety, they fotgot theirUN tech twin in Genva has been practising global connectivity since 1865, that dellow Goats of V neumnn has chiared Intellectual Cooperation in the 1920s which pervesrely became the quasi trade union Unesco- it took Abedian inspired educations in 2016 ro reunite ed and tecah as well as health and trade ; 7 decades of the UN not valuing Numenn's question at its core is quite late, but if we dare graviate UN2 aeound this digital coperation question now we give the younger half if the world a chnace especially as a billion poorest women have been synchronised to deep community human development since 1970

Dear Robert - you kindly asked for a short email so that you could see if there is a CGTN anchor in east coast who might confidentially share views with my expectation of how only Asian young women cultural movements (parenting and community depth but amplified by transparent tech in life shaping markets eg health, food, nature..) can return sustainability to all of us
three of my father's main surveys in The Economist 1962-1977 explain imo where future history will take us (and so why younger half of world need friendship/sustainable adaptation with Chinese youth -both on mainland and diaspora)
 1962 consider japan approved by JF Kennedy: argued good news - 2 new economic models were emerging through japan korea south and taiwan relevant to all Asia Rising (nrxt to link the whole trading/supply chains of the far east coast down through hong kong and cross-seas at singapore)
1 rural keynsianism ie 100% productivity in village first of all food security- borlaug alumni ending starvation
2 supercity costal trade models which designed hi-tech borderless sme value chains- to build a 20 million person capital or an 8 million person superport you needed the same advances in engineering - partly why this second economic model was win-win for first time since engines begun Glasgow 1760 ; potentially able to leverage tech giant leaps 100 times ahead; the big opportunity von neumann had gifted us - knowhow action networking multiply value application unlike consuming up things
1976 entrepreneurial revolution -translated into italian by prodi - argued that future globalisation big politics big corporate would need to be triangularised by community scaled sme networks- this was both how innovation advancing human lot begins and also the only way to end poverty in the sense of 21st C being such that next girl born can thrive because every community taps in diversity/safety/ valuing child and health as conditions out of which intergenerational economic growth can spring
in 1977 fathers survey of china - argued that there was now great hope that china had found the system designs that would empower a billion people to escape from extreme poverty but ultimately education of the one child generation (its tech for human capabilities) would be pivotal ( parallel 1977 survey looked at the futures of half the world's people ie east of iran)
best chris macrae + 1 240 316 8157 washington DC
 - we are in midst of unprecedented exponential change (dad from 1960s called death of distance) the  tech legacy of von neumann (dad was his biographer due to luckily meeting him in his final years including neumann's scoping of brain science (ie ai and human i) research which he asked yale to continue in his last lecture series). Exponential risks of extinction track to  mainly western top-down errors at crossroads of tech  over last 60 years (as well as non transparent geonomic mapping of how to reconcile what mainly 10 white empires had monopoly done with machines 1760-1945 and embedded in finance - see eg keynes last chapter of general theory of money); so our 2020s destiny is conditioned by quite simple local time-stamped details but ones that have compounded so that root cause and consequence need exact opposite of academic silos- so I hope there are some simple mapping points we can agree sustainability and chinese anchors in particular are now urgently in the middle of
Both my father at the economist and I (eg co-authoring 1984 book 2025 report, retranslated to 1993 sweden's new vikings) have argued sustainability in early 21st c will depend mostly on how asians as 65% of humans advance and how von neumann (or moores law) 100 times more tech every decade from 1960s is valued by society and business.
My father (awarded Japan's Order of Rising Sun and one time scriptwriter for Prince Charles trips to Japan) had served as teen allied bomber command burma campaign - he therefore had google maps in his head 50 years ahead of most media people, and also believed the world needed peace (dad was only journalist at messina birth of EU ) ; from 1960 his Asian inclusion arguments were almost coincidental to Ezra Vogel who knew much more about Japan=China last 2000 years ( additionally  cultural consciousness of silk road's eastern dynamics not golden rule of Western Whites) and peter drucker's view of organisational systems
(none of the 10 people at the economist my father had mentored continued his work past 1993- 2 key friends died early; then the web turned against education-journalism when west coast ventures got taken over by advertising/commerce instead of permitting 2 webs - one hi-trust educational; the other blah blah. sell sell .sex sell. viral trivial and hate politicking)
although i had worked mainly in the far east eg with unilever because of family responsibilities I never got to china until i started bumping into chinese female graduates at un launch of sdgs in 2015- I got in 8 visits to beijing -guided by them around tsinghua, china centre of globalisation, a chinese elder Ying Lowrey who had worked on smes in usa for 25 years but was not jack ma's biographer in 2015 just as his fintech models (taobao not alibaba) were empowering villagers integration into supply chains; there was a fantastic global edutech conference dec 2016 in Tsinghua region (also 3 briefings by Romano Prodi to students) that I attended connected with  great womens education hero bangladesh's fazle abed;  Abed spent much of hs last decade hosting events with chinese and other asian ambassadors; unite university graduates around sdg projects the world needed in every community but which had first been massively demonstrated in asia - if you like a version of schwarzman scholars but inclusive of places linking all deepest sustainability goals challenges 
and i personally feel learnt a lot from 3 people broadcasting from cgtn you and the 2 ladies liu xin and  tian wei (they always seemed to do balanced interviews even in the middle of trump's hatred campaigns), through them I also became a fan of father and daughter Jin at AIIB ; i attended korea's annual general meet 2017 of aiib; it was fascinating watching bankers for 60 countries each coming up with excuses as to why they would not lead on infrastructure investments (even though the supercity economic model depends on that)
Being a diaspora scot and a mathematician borders (managers who maximise externalisation of risks) scare me; especially rise of nationalist ones ;   it is pretty clear historically that london trapped most of asia in colomisdation ; then bankrupted by world war 2 rushed to independence without the un or anyone helping redesign top-down systems ; this all crashed into bangladesh the first bottom up collaboration women lab ; ironically on health, food security, education bangladesh and chinese village women empowerment depended on sharing almost every village microfranchise between 1972 and 2000 especially on last mile health networking
in dads editing of 2025 from 1984 he had called for massive human awareness by 2001 of mans biggest risk being discrepancies in incomes and expectations of rich and poor nations; he suggested that eg public broadcast media could host a reality tv end poverty entrepreneur competition just as digital media was scaling to be as impactful as mass media
that didnt happen and pretty much every mess - reactions to 9/11, failure to do ai of epidemics as priority from 2005 instead of autonomous cars, failure to end long-term carbon investments, subprime has been rooted in the west not having either government nor big corporate systems necessary to collaboratively value Asian SDG innovations especially with 5g
I am not smart enough to understand how to thread all the politics now going on but in the event that any cgtn journalist wants to chat especially in dc where we could meet I do not see humans preventing extinction without maximising chinese youth (particularly womens dreams); due to covid we lost plans japan had to relaunch value of female athletes - so this and other ways japan and china and korea might have regained joint consciousness look as if they are being lost- in other words both cultural and education networks (not correctly valued by gdp news headlines) may still be our best chance at asian women empowerment saving us all from extinction but that needs off the record brainstorming as I have no idea what a cgtn journalist is free to cover now that trump has turned 75% of americans into seeing china as the enemy instead of looking at what asian policies of usa hurt humans (eg afghanistan is surely a human wrong caused mostly by usa); a; being a diaspora scot i have this naive idea that we need to celebrate happiness of all peoples an stop using media to spiral hatred across nations but I expect that isnt something an anchor can host generally but for example if an anchor really loves ending covid everywhere then at least in that market she needs to want to help united peoples, transparency of deep data etc

2021 afore ye go to glasgow cop26-

please map how and why - more than 3 in 4 scots earn their livelihoods worldwide not in our homeland- that requires hi-trust as well as hi-tech to try to love all cultures and nature's diversity- until mcdonalds you could use MAC OR MC TO identify our community engaging networks THAT SCALED ROUND STARTING UP THE AGE OF HUMANS AND MACHINES OF GKASGOW UNI 1760 1 2 3 - and the microfranchises they aimed to sustain  locally around each next child born - these days scots hall of fame started in 1760s around   adam smith and james watt and 195 years later glasgow engineering BA fazle abed - we hope biden unites his irish community building though cop26 -ditto we hope kamalA values gandhi- public service - but understand if he or she is too busy iN DC 2021 with covid or finding which democrats or republicans or american people speak bottom-up sustainable goals teachers and enrrepreneurs -zoom with if you are curious - fanily foundation of the economist's norman macrae- explorer of whether 100 times more tehc every decade since 1945 would end poverty or prove orwell's-big brother trumps -fears correct est1984 or the economist's entreprenerialrevolutionstarted up 1976 with italy/franciscan romano prodi

help assemble card pack 1in time for games at cop26 glasgow nov 2021 - 260th year of machines and humans started up by smith and watt- co-author, networker foundation of The Economist's Norman Macrae - 60s curricula telecommuting andjapan's capitalist belt roaders; 70s curricula entreprenurial revolution and poverty-ending rural keynesianism - library of 40 annual surveys loving win-wins between nations youth biographer john von neumann


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