Education is commonly accepted to be the cornerstone of a nation’s development. Education outcomes are influenced by a number of diverse components/determinants, infrastructure being one of them. Children spend their maximum time being away from home and at schools. The school becomes their home away from home and rightly so. Parents send their wards to school with the hope that it will act as a safe and secure setting to promote growth and learning, and school infrastructure plays a crucial role in fostering that environment.
Even though there are umpteen number of schools in rural areas, these schools cannot be seen at par with the education facilities available in urban schools. Rural students are deprived of the amenities and comforts that their urban counterparts are afforded. Let us understand the state of infrastructure in the majority of rural schools, which make up nearly 83% of all government schools in India.
In the classroom:
Due to the lack of basic classroom furniture in many schools, students have to sit on the bare floor for their classes. In some schools because of the space constraints and dearth of rooms, students are de rigueur to squeeze into one classroom that is filled 2-3 times more than the actual capacity or even compelled to sit outside in scorching heat. Proper and adequate lighting and ventilation is another challenge altogether.
When schools reopen after the health concerns of the pandemic are brought under control, every school must be equipped to implement safety measures for the students. For instance, the classrooms cannot be confined as they were before, as classes need to maintain social distancing norms. Schools must be modified to incorporate proper safety and necessary hygiene measures which brings us to the second point.
Another basic facility that is mostly absent in rural schools in India is the availability of washrooms. If present, most toilets are in very bad condition and are inoperative. The plight of the teaching staff is also grave as they do not have the luxury of separate facilities, this leads to unmotivated teachers as their basic needs are not being met. Lastly, this paucity of sanitation infrastructure deters many girl children from attending school. Without this fundamental need being addressed, the dropout rate, especially for girls that is currently at 23% will continue to rise.
Laboratories and libraries:
While urban schools have state-of-the-art labs, acquiring elementary computer education is still a dream for many students in rural India. The scantiness of the improperly furnished libraries and science labs severely affects the quality of education.
Sports and playscapes:
Sports play an essential role in a child’s overall development. The Right to Education act of 2009 suggests that every school must provide a playground within the boundaries of the compound. However, at the moment this is far from reality. Barren land and insufficient sporting equipment leave students with little to no physical activity, and no room for fun and games.
The exiguity of basic facilities and other physical comforts hamper the performance and even behaviour of students. Rundown schools do not provide a conducive learning environment, this culminates into various other issues such as low attendance rate, dropouts, increased teacher vacancy which all in turn ultimately results in the students of rural India receiving substandard education. This is backed by research and studies that show a correlation between high-quality infrastructure and the facilitation of better instruction, improved student outcomes and reduced dropout rates among other benefits.
Ennoble strongly believes that the learning space has a profound impact on the upgrowth of the teaching-learning community. Teachers and students should use high-quality infrastructure and spaces as learning material for impactful learning. Our YeloGreen School Model, intricately created based on the in-depth research of various state protocols and UNICEF guidelines is our solution for the long-standing problem of infrastructure. We have not only taken into account the shortcomings of the elements mentioned above but also 50+ other design considerations to promote a friendlier learning environment. We have devised a playbook that makes our model sustainable and scalable across geographies.
In conclusion, school infrastructure is a key aspect in creating an effective teaching-learning environment but also assures the mental and physical well-being of students if executed effectively. We hope you will join us in revamping India’s rural school and galvanize students to stay in school and ensure the staff are motivated.