Expanding Opportunities for Every Child to Learn Well. Can Local Experiences from the Pandemic in India Feed into Global Lessons?
Dr Rukmini Banerji
Chief Executive Officer Pratham Education Foundation
Date: March 23, 2023 (Thursday) Time: 10:30 am - 12:00 nn (HKT)
Mode: ZOOM Webinar
The pandemic brought difficulties, disruption and discontinuity to all walks of life, especially education systems. In India, most schools remained closed for almost two years, severely impacting millions of children’s lives and learning, many of whom were vulnerable and had diverse learning needs. Undoubtedly, the compulsions of the time presented new challenges for educators, but they also inspired innovation and experimentation. Rethinking, renewing, revising and re-visioning became pathways into hope and fuelled creative solutions.
In this talk, Dr Rukmini Banerji will discuss the work that Pratham did to support continuous learning despite adversity. Founded in 1995, Pratham’s mission is “every child in school and learning well”. Pratham is well known for developing frugal yet effective solutions to enable children to acquire foundational skills in reading and arithmetic. Pratham’s community-based learning assessment, ASER, has spread to more than 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Central America. Pratham’s innovative instructional methodology “Teaching at the Right Level” is also widely used in India and abroad.
Pratham responded to the crisis by building on community mechanisms and identifying local resources that could reach families and children in need. How to reach, how to teach and how to learn were important lessons during the pandemic that are valid and relevant to a global audience in a post-pandemic scenario. Key is the importance of engaging communities, particularly parents, in supporting children's foundational learning. Relevant, engaging content and activities, social structures that support human interaction, and a judicious use of available technology also helped to navigate difficult times. She hopes the talk can open up a broader discussion of what we can learn from different contexts that can enrich the quality of children’s education whether in India, HKSAR or elsewhere in the world.
About the Speaker Dr Rukmini Banerji is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pratham Education Foundation. She was trained as an economist in India, later was a Rhodes Scholar at University of Oxford (1981-83) and completed her PhD at the University of Chicago in 1991. Dr Banerji returned to India in 1996 and joined Pratham. Over the years, she has worked extensively in Pratham’s education programmes in rural and urban areas. Along with her teams, she has played a major role in designing and supporting large scale partnerships with state governments in India, for improving children’s learning outcomes. Dr Banerji led Pratham’s research and assessment efforts including the Annual Status of Education Report exercise from 2005 to 2014. Since 2015, she has been the CEO of Pratham. In 2018, the Pratham Education Foundation received the LUI Che Woo Prize in recognition for “accomplishments beneficial to mankind”. In 2021, Dr Banerji was awarded the Yidan Prize for significant contributions to Education Development.