We strongly believe that people should have meaningful, quality educational opportunities at all times of their lives. It’s essential to make learners aware of needs more significant than their own so that they are moved to take independent action to address those needs while expanding their learning. We have greatly benefited from the educational opportunities we could access throughout our young and adult lives. In our journey as individuals, we have been aware that our perceptions and value systems have been nurtured and empowered by education. When we apply our learnings to our work, we observe that education is the only such tool available to humans that endows us with independence and self-reliance while liberating our minds and enriching our sense of being as members of a community.
We realized, however, that this can’t be possible until all individuals have access to learning opportunities irrespective of the resources they can or cannot afford. Through our work over the years, the deep-rooted inequity in access to quality education and enforcing the right to education in India became highly apparent to us. While we were aware of the intrinsic disparity in the education system and the fact that intersectional issues often overshadow fair learning opportunities, we learned that if modes of knowledge dissemination are further redefined, the marginalized can get completely excluded from availing any educational opportunities at all.
Deriving from this understanding, we recognize that given the shifting paradigm of education today, the nature of work and all livelihood opportunities will be adjusted in line with the now worsening realities of climate change, increased joblessness, and even greater dependence on technology. In India, the underlying disparity in using digital resources that can guarantee access to quality education is now more apparent than ever before. The new narrative will only exacerbate the already existing risks in rights of the marginalized, especially concerning them exercising meaningful and fair access to education.
When we recognized the gravity of the challenge at hand, we decided to confront it head-on. To determine our approach and test our motivations further, we meditated on three questions:
- What should we continue doing?
- What should we abandon?
- What needs to be creatively invented afresh?
At this juncture, we recalled our on-field experiences in public schools of urban slums of Delhi and villages of Gujarat, Uttarakhand, & Himachal Pradesh. This, combined with our encounters with learners worst hit by the changing realities of a “hybrid” education system, compelled us to keep education at the focal point of all our endeavors to create empowered communities in India. While our exposure and understanding of an intersectional approach to varied developmental issues will lead our way forward on this journey, our commitment to building just, sustainable and fair communities will now be materialized through our sole focus on addressing myriad roadblocks in making access to quality education a reality for all in India.