There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the world’s second most populous country. With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India is challenged by poverty, crime, and hunger every day.
One particularly sobering area where this nation trails much of the rest of the world is in education.
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According to a blog that monitors education, the statistics are disturbing:
* Fewer than 12 percent of high school graduates in India continue on to higher education; in the US, that figure is 83 percent.
* Many of those who go on to an institution of higher learning are receiving educations graded to be of middling or poor quality.
* There is a shortage of teachers.
* Indian students study abroad at a cost of $7 billion a year.
The low literacy rate can be traced to the high dropout rate and the lack of teachers who have sufficient training. What all this means is that there are opportunities for volunteers through programs such as Volunteer in India to help make a difference.
Volunteers are encouraged to develop their own lesson plans, although coordinated to make sure that Indian students get a well-rounded education, according to Volunteer in India. New methods of teaching could include making sure the students are tech-savvy.
A recent study lends hope that today’s modern tools can help lift India out of its education morass. The use of modern technology, including Facebook, actually helps university students do better with their assignments.
A study by Baylor University concluded that students perform better when they feel part of a community and less isolated. “Although some teachers may worry that social media distracts students from legitimate learning, we found that our Facebook group helped transform students from anonymous spectators into a community of active learners,” according to a Baylor professor who helped conduct the study.
Volunteers in India participants should be encouraged by the fact that students who took part in the Baylor study performed better than those students who were not part of the Facebook program.
The future looks better
The common refrain in recent years has been that India’s tech industry should have made bigger strides than it has. While large sums of money have been invested in technology, it was not emphasized in the schools. The reason India lagged was due to poor education, according to a report circulated by TED.
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There’s a silver lining. According to a statistical look at India and the Internet, sales of “smart” devices skyrocketed in 2013. With more iPads and other tablets available to younger Indians, the hope is these devices will spark a thirst for learning.
Mobile Internet use is ready to explode in India, which furthers the notion that people will have another tech avenue for learning. As volunteers have focused on early education initiatives in India, children will get a head start on taking steps to attend the Manipal Institute of Technology, India’s foremost technological school.
The list of illustrious grads from MIT is long, and without these initiatives, India’s children could continue to languish behind the rest of the world. By getting involved now, volunteers can sow the seeds for a better-educated population.