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The Sub-Standard Schools of India

A class in progress


And the Video Volunteers Who Document Them

It’s no secret that if you can afford it, drug world-class education is available in India. But what about if you can’t?

“Our English and Maths is really bad. If the foundation of our studies is weak at this initial stage, how will we strengthen it in the future?” asks Manisha, a student whose education has been put on hold because of the lack of teachers in her school.

For most Indians, getting access to education remains an elusive dream. The further one travels into the interiors of the country, the more severe the problem gets—schools that are too far to walk to; financial constraints; teacher shortages are just some of the obstacles they face.

In a recent campaign launched by Video Volunteers, an international community media organisation, 206 trained community correspondents will document the problems their communities face trying to get access to proper education facilities.

Thousands of students like Manisha from across the country will reveal on camera the ground reality of education in India. These voices are the real faces behind the statistic that there are 8 million children out of school in India.

2013 marks the deadline set to meet all the norms set forth in the Right to Education Act that envisioned equitable, quality education to every child in India. Though one of the most progressive education laws in the world, it has missed many of its goals.

Are schools easy to get to? Is the student-teacher ratio correct? Are there toilets and drinking water in the schools? Are the School Monitoring Committees functioning properly? These, and more are some of the questions they are asking. This teaser for the campaign sets out the issues.

These videos will form the base of the campaign “Pass Ya Fail”, an audit of achievements and shortcomings of the RTE Act. In the first phase of the project, 100 videos from 100 districts across India will be produced. Community Correspondents will bring you information from hundreds of schools, interviewing numerous teachers parents and children – seeing how these schools measure up to the thirteen key provisions guaranteed by this Act.

The campaign comes at a crucial juncture as India is getting set for a general election in 2014. As young India will come out to vote, this campaign will hold accountable policy makers who have promised to give every child of India the right to education through this Act.


A little girl studies

Photo Credit: Community Correspondent Anita Bharti took these photos in Ranchi during a photography workshop run by VV and Magnum Foundation.


Already documented, is a collection of over eighty videos (and counting), compelling evidence that the education system in India is far from adequate. The RTE Forum’s stock-taking report found that only 8% of schools conform to the standards set out by the act. The shortage of teachers is one of the most urgent concerns that need to be tackled. VV’s Community Correspondents have documented many cases where 1 or 2 dedicated teachers try to run a school but end up being over worked and frustrated.

Other basic infrastructure like drinking water and separate toilets for boys and girls are also absent. These two are important factors in retaining students in school. For girls especially, the absence of separate clean toilets presents a hurdle in coming to school.

There are also grim revelations from the 2013 Annual Status of Education Report which states that the percentage of children in Government schools who can identify numbers up to 100 has reduced to 50% from the 70% it was four years ago. This decrease in quality has been largely attributed to the Right to Education (RTE) and Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) policies that have been implemented since 2010.

In the course of the campaign, Community Correspondents will go deep into particular stories and case studies, to help understand why the act has worked or not worked in a particular area. And most crucially, they will use the videos to bring an impact in individual cases at the block or district level where the act has not been implemented properly. In the past Video Volunteers’ Correspondents have succeeded in redressing RTE violations.

Through this video audit, Video Volunteers will raise the issues and concerns on the ground backed by visual evidence. They hope that in the course of the year-long campaign, organisations working on education and the government itself will take note of these and ensure that the RTE Act, as envisioned is actually implemented.

If India is set to be the youngest country in the world by 2020, each and every one of its young citizens should have access to a right as fundamental as education.


Kayonaaz Kalyanwala is Communications Coordinator for Video Volunteers

About Video Volunteers:

Video Volunteers is an international community media organization that equips women and men in marginalised areas with, activism and video journalism skills, enabling entire communities to expose underreported stories from their communities and take action to right the wrongs of poverty, injustice and inequality. In India, it has created the largest, most diverse network of Community Video Correspondents in the world. Video Volunteers currently has 206 Community Correspondents spread over 23 states in India. Their head office is in Goa. You can contact them at