Talking READing in Bangalore: Notes from the READ Alliance Innovation Workshop part 3

The first question is thrown out to the audience:What would you want to change in the education system in India?

Some of the answers that emerged:

education needs to be distinguished from schooling. our definition of learning should not be limited to school alone.

huge requirement in early ears to memorise and not necessarily understand: making meaning. that is also how i define innovation

i would like to look at how do teachers look at the problem of memorising and completing curriculum vs whether the child has understood. making teachers understand that students need to understand

change in process is not important as compared to change in mindset- of all people, not just of teachers and students, change mindset as a community, as a collection of adults

the govt needs to get out of primary school education. local communities need to get involved. leaving it to teachers alone is not okay. people need to give some of their time to schooling and education

competition can be used to motivate students in a class. change needed from the traditional method of teaching. competing and collaborating are both important.

teachers’ training needs to be changed. the focus should be on building the child’s personality

teachers over burdened with random non teaching responsibilities.

a common vision starting from the education minister down to the last teacher, bring in accountability across all levels, and develop this with state of the art training all throughout the sector

resources developed in small ways all over the country which are not accessible to others. we must grow together and collaborate, share resources and make them accessible to those who can use them

Macualay’s speech when he created the colonial era education system in India mentioned that he aimed at creating a class of people to serve the British, a group of clerks for the Empire. there are still remnants of that system in the present one. language is one. borrowing systems and processes from the West. using community knowledge. centralising as opposed to decentralising knowledge. enhancing education beyond efficiency and productivity of the system

amount of time spent going through formal schooling. are we impeding on their learning through education.

the Juvenile Justice system first asks if the child is enrolled in school. because school is considered a system to control the child, confining the child in order to keep her or him safe. why should school be considered such an institution.

how children learn also needs to be re looked at. we ought to have more faith in children and their own ways to learn.

we are trying to do a one-size-fits-all kind of system. education system is geared for livelihood. if beyond that they want to be a writer, artist, etc., that’s fine but beyond the concern of our basic education system. this attitude needs to change.

For children who have gone through some years of formal schooling, for a 14 or 15 years old, interactivity is not something they are used to. they are used to being told what to do, and fun is something that happens only outside school. people skills are missing- nobody wants to speak out, be a leader, say something that everybody else is not saying.


Aditya Dev Sood, collating some of the answers, summarises what the gathering and the READ Alliance feel about the changes to come, the changes required in the education system

a lot of things have changed very quickly in the last few years. internet presence in rural India for one. many people till a few years ago did not think it would ever happen. now it is being used in healthcare projects, in education, there is a greater opportunity for people collaborating, looking at non conventional programs and projects and tools.

technology is a part of our lives and our society. the traditional classroom will die, whether it is this decade or another. that may be the debate we need to have. we cant go around peddling a 70s solution to one half of the population, and tell the other half that they must go through conventional methods of education improvement.

since primary education and reading is a concern to enough people, change will come to early reading and primary education. actual change is going to come and it is of critical important that we record the kind of conversations and thinking that went into bringing about that change.

At READ Alliance we are looking at children who are not accessing formal schooling system, or school systems at the bottom of the ladder, which are not working.


The conversation then turns to reading, defining reading in the new paradigm that we imagine for primary education. People offered different, sometimes differing views, on the matters that pose challenges to reading in early childhood and in primary education.

multiplicity of language and mother tongue is a challenge. ability to connect and make meaning is reduced because you are not familiar or comfortable with the language they are being taught in.

is the problem multiple languages or the teaching of languages in school?

belief in children is necessary: children are able to pick up languages easily, but the teaching may not be congruent with the child’s context.

oral language and written language. they are separate yet connected. making the connection between the spoken language and written language is important and defines one’s success in acquiring reading skills.

knowing a language helps learn more languages. being mutilingual helps

there is an in built system in languages that help us learn them in Indian langauges. we do not use that in built system such as the barakhadi. we use phonetics to teach languages where phonetics are not needed. so implementing systems for teaching English are applied to systems for teaching Hindi or Marathi. if we applied these in built efficiencies to designing technologies, our projects and processes for teaching can be way better. we as teachers and we as ppl who want to put education forward should be able to say what learning should be.


As this discussion ends with many thoughts lingering in the atmosphere, the session turns more active. People collect in groups and gather around the large posters of the Seven Steps to Reading, their task is to understand , discuss and then explain to the larger group the learning interactions necessary for acquiring reading skills and habit. This series of posts will continue tracking the event, so keep reading.

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