The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

News: Raising Learning Outcomes in Diverse Indian Contexts

Photo: (cropped) School children in India. Credit: Natacha Cornaz/Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Over the past two decades, India has witnessed a rapid increase in primary school enrolment. More students than ever before attend school, even those from very disadvantaged backgrounds. By 2014, only 3% children between age six and 14 years were out of school, according to government data.

However, not all complete primary school and for those who do, many are not learning the basics in literacy and numeracy.

Ten projects funded by the ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme have studied schools in diverse contexts across India, from small schools in remote rural areas to crowded ones in urban slums. The research aims to provide policymakers and practitioners with concrete recommendations on how to improve learning outcomes in India and how these will translate into specific contexts. 

Emerging findings from the research has found that in many schools, student backgrounds, needs and abilities were wide-ranging. Pupils attending the same school often came from different socio-economic groups, spoke different languages at home, and practiced different religions. They also varied in their ability to participate and learn in classrooms, including due to different forms and degrees of disability. The studies also found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds who faced multiple disadvantages such as related to poverty, gender, caste, religion, disability or where they live, were amongst those least likely to be learning.

These findings. summarised in a policy brief prepared by the research teams, will be presented at a research-policy engagement event in Delhi on 9th December. 

At the annual ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes (RLO) Programme in January 2019, individual RLO grants were invited to come together and create new, cross-cutting themes that could deliver exciting engagement activities directly related to the RLO programme. A number of RLO projects joined forces to deliver a series of activities focused on raising learning outcomes in diverse contexts in India. 

Exploring pathways: Re-thinking educational strategies in India 

On Monday 9th December, seven RLO projects (listed below) will meet alongside policymakers, development practitioners & civil society in Delhi to present evidence & explore pathways to improving learning outcomes in different Indian contexts. 

Led by research partners from Collaborative Research and Dissemination (CORD India), the day-long workshop will involve a panel discussion followed by interactive group sessions focused on three key areas: 

1. Widening the policy perspective on learning outcomes

2. Issues affecting teachers

3. Mechanisms for school-community engagement in support of children’s learning 

These findings, summarised in a policy brief prepared by the research teams, will be presented at a critical time in India's efforts to improve learning outcomes. A draft national education policy was released by India's government in June, aiming to 'universalize the pre-primary education by 2025 and provide foundational literacy/numeracy for all by 2025' . The event aims to highlight that the improvement of learning outcomes in diverse Indian contexts requires a rethinking of educational strategies. Whilst there has been an improvement in the provision of physical access to schools, improving a child’s learning outcomes requires the role of different stakeholders in the learning process to be strengthened and adapted contextually. 

This will not be the first time India-focused grants funded under the ESRC-DFID partnership have come together in order to help to contribute towards an evidence-based strategy of reform across these issues. In 2016, Collaborative Research and Dissemination (CORD) hosted a consultation in Delhi on behalf of the Impact Initiative with the focus on ‘Teaching, Learning and Disadvantage’. Participants discussed the need to address issues throughout the system, particularly regarding the roles and responsibilities of administrators and teachers. 

Related items and resources from the Impact Initiative:

Engage with us 

This event is an exciting opportunity to share learning and explore new opportunities. Even if you are not partipiating in person, please engage with us on Twitter using hashtags and handles #LearningOutcomes and #evidence4impact and follow us @The_Impact_Init.

You can also follow our partners on twitter: