Challenges in creating sustainable development models by NGO initiatives in the Education Sector


A lot of attention nowadays is on learning outcomes of children which do not present a good picture of teaching and learning and education achievement. Although, India has achieved universalization of primary education, the quality of education being imparted at schools is a major concern. Efforts are being made to shift the classroom transaction from lecture based to more activity based, learner friendly approaches, through developing curriculum and textbooks, teacher training etc.

    In the Education sector in India, the NGO initiatives are mostly based on improving the quality of education, access and retention of children, enhancing community participation through interventions in teaching learning process, developing curriculum materials, building teacher capacities in government schools and preschools. Some of them work towards creating model school or centres. However, sometimes it is also observed that the impact on the schools or education of children in a particular area is reduced to minimal after the organization winds up the project and exits the project area. The reasons affecting sustainability of education projects may be following:

    • Education intervention take time to show positive impact on learning outcomes of children or quality. Due to its very nature of involving human interaction, the process takes time to be assimilated by the school, teachers thereby transferring the benefits to the students. In my experience, sometimes it may take even 4-5 years to show the impact and the project wind up in 2-3 years, prematurely due to funding exhaustion.
    • The sustainability of the education project critically depends on successfully the processes or initiatives have been integrated in the government strategy of implementation viz. official practices/ duties of education officers, principals or teachers. For example, if the practice of curriculum planning meetings were initiated during the project, it should be adopted by the teachers, coordinators or officers as a regular practice. The rigid government structure, sometimes, is not very conducive to adopting changes.
    • The nature of education and learning is such that it is not very amenable to measurement. It is difficult to measure a teaching and learning process or a classroom transaction by quantifying it as it involves interaction and there can be hundred other ways to teach the same concept. At very best, one can see whether minimum standards of teaching and learning are met. The effectiveness of the teaching and learning will be visible when learning outcomes of children are assessed. It is therefore, important that monitoring and evaluation procedures are strong enough to capture process as well as outcomes.
    • For successful implementation and sustainability of project, it is important that major actors of the project i.e. teachers, school heads or other officials remain the same. Transfer of teachers, deputation in other schools, allocating administrative duties amounts to wastage of project efforts of building capacities of teachers and school heads.
    • A project with heavily resourced model will be difficult to sustain. Most of the government school and centres have less resources so the strategies need to focus on utilization of locally available resources effectively.
    • Efforts should not be towards creating a parallel structure of education with that of the government. Instead, focusing on the government system and adapting it to perform well will be a sustainable initiative.