Publication: The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations in Primary Education : A Study of Six NGOs in India

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Jagannathan, Shanti
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) extend education to underprivileged children in India, and develop innovations that improve the quality of primary education. In this study of six NGOs working with school-age children in India, the author shows the potential benefits of a government-NGO alliance to achieve universal primary education. The author emphasizes several areas in which collaboration can be particularly fruitful. 1) Targeting under-served children: The Government could support the efforts of NGOs to bring out-of-school children into schools, through timely supply of teachers, classroom space, and other resources. Targeted action is needed to reach different types of out-of-school children - those who work, those who live in slums, those on the street, those who are members of tribes, or of migrant families, and those who live in places without schools. To encourage young, first-generation learners to stay in school, requires a supportive, and nurturing environment. To help make learning interesting, and worthwhile for such children, teachers in government schools could receive special training in new methods developed by NGOs. 2) Enhancing quality: Improving the quality of education requires working closely with key agents of change, such as teachers, school heads, school management committees, and village education committees. To develop a cadre of trainers for primary school teachers, teacher training institutes would do well to evaluate, and learn from NGO models for teacher training. Teachers need a range of knowledge, and skills to teach underprivileged children effectively. Here again, NGO models would be a useful tool for teacher training institutes. NGOs, and the government could collaborate in developing appropriate, and flexible learning assessment tools, in line with innovative teaching, and learning methods. But without safeguards, large-scale replication by the government of such NGO innovations as the "alternative school" and the "voluntary teacher" could lower the quality of education. 3) Government-NGO links: The Government and NGOs will need to share a common vision on how to achieve universal primary education if India is to reach this goal. NGOs can be credible partners with the government in shaping policies for primary education. This entails collaboration, rather than parallel initiatives by NGOs. To stay at the cutting edge in education, NGOs should continually evaluate, and refine their models. If NGOs are to play a policy role in education, two areas that have been neglected will need to be addressed - NGO capacity building, and organizational development.
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Jagannathan, Shanti. 2001. The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations in Primary Education : A Study of Six NGOs in India. Policy Research Working Paper;No. 2530. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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