Yet seven years on from its entry into force, there is still significant debate about whether the promise of inclusive and equitable education has been realised. India is home to 300 million young people under the age of 15, more than in any country on Earth. This future workforce, combined with the country’s current tech boom, has the potential to inject new dynamism into India’s growing economy and help overall development skyrocket.However, India’s ability to reap the rewards of its huge demographic advantage is far from guaranteed. According to the tenth Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), basic learning achievements in reading and maths remain low and dismal, with only a fourth of all Class III children able to read Class II text fluently, and under half in Class V able to do so.
In Rajasthan, a state rated the least literate in India by the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, IAS officer Naresh Gangwar has been quietly but determinedly working to change this trend. A soft-spoken bureaucrat who studied communications and technology, Gangwar was appointed the education secretary of the state in 2013.Though Rajasthan is India’s 7th richest state, it has long had some of the worst literacy levels in the country. Years of neglect – with teachers suffering an eight-year salary freeze before the current administration – has led to decline of quality of education imparted in the state’s schools. Facing the mammoth challenge of reviving Rajasthan’s faltering education system when he joined as education secretary, Gangwar decided to start by focusing squarely on teachers. As soon as he was appointed, he invited dozens of teachers to his office in a bid to hear their long-ignored demands, complaints and suggestions. Delayed promotions were expedited, blocked salaries were releases and teachers were compensated for relocations.
Next, with the support of the teachers behind him, Gangwar decided to take on a bigger challenge: reassigning teachers and redressing the urban bias in the state’s education system.
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