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Transforming Rural Education: Challenges, Solution, and Our Foundation’s Impact


In 2009, the ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act’, also known as the RTE Act was passed by the parliament in an effort to make education a fundamental right of children between the ages of 6 and 14, irrespective of their socio-economic background. Even though the implementation of this act has resulted in increased enrolment rates in rural India, very little attention is paid to the effectiveness of the teaching and learning practices in rural schools. The ASER 2022 findings illustrate the glaring disparities between the initiatives implemented by the government and the learning outcomes observed in rural schools. For example, 74% of students in Std. III are unable to do basic subtraction. Similarly, 79.5% of students in Std. III are unable to read a Std. II level text. There is an urgent need for reform that will strengthen the quality and effectiveness of teaching practices in rural India.



  • Lack of quality teachers - There are nearly 1.2 lakh single-teacher schools in the country, out of which 89 per cent are in rural areas, as per a UNESCO report. The report projects that India needs 11.16 lakh additional teachers to meet the current shortfall. 

  • Lack of digital infrastructure - As per the ASER 2018 report, 55.5% of students have never used computers. Moreover,  66% of schools do not have internet connection. The lack of digital literacy in rural India intensifies the urban-rural technological divide.

  • Lack of basic infrastructural facilities - About 16 percent of rural elementary schools in India do not have any toilet facilities, while about 49 per cent of these schools do not have separate toilets for girls. 

  • Lack of financial planning - Often, parents of students attending rural schools are ill-equipped to manage their personal finances effectively. This leads to a crisis when it’s time to invest in the child’s education.

  • Girls have a 42% lower chance of receiving elementary education than males in India's poorest districts, and this persists even after other variables such as religion and caste have been controlled.

  • Rural communities usually communicate in local languages and do not have a grasp over universally used languages such as English, which makes it all the more difficult for them to navigate the digital space and seek opportunities outside their villages. 



Issues such as limited infrastructure, inadequate resources, and socio economic disparities contribute to a significant gap in educational outcomes between rural and urban areas. However, addressing these challenges requires more than just tangible interventions. It demands a shift in mindset—a transformative approach that empowers students, teachers, and communities to overcome obstacles and unlock their full potential. By focusing on mindset development, we can cultivate a sustainable solution that goes beyond immediate challenges, paving the way for long-term change and holistic growth.

What is mindset development?

Mindset development serves as a powerful solution that transforms mindsets, empowers students, and nurtures resilient communities. By building self-efficacy, promoting empathy and inclusion, and embracing a collective effort, mindset development addresses not only the immediate challenges but also lays the foundation for sustainable change. As we move forward, integrating mindset development into educational programs becomes essential to ensure equitable and quality education for all, transcending the barriers faced by rural communities in India.


Pratima Foundation is a unique social change platform that brings together diverse stakeholders, aligned to a common purpose - to positively impact lives in a measurable way. We aim to empower communities to drive their own development through capacity building, education, and meaningful collaboration. 

We align our program strategies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals in an effort to hyper-localize the global mission and take it to every village, community, and hamlet in India. Our education program strategy aims to empower students from rural and low-income backgrounds through progressive, equitable, and robust interventions to reform the way people think, and therefore, act.

So, how are we doing this?


The Model School Program

True change in the education sphere can be brought around by creating 'personalized, holistic and thoughtful' schooling experiences. This is where model schools come in. Model schools are those that are rapidly and dramatically making improvements to provide a safe, inclusive, and trusting environment to their students where a love for learning is fostered every day. 

Moreover, model schooling emphasizes the need for community involvement to promote local stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes. In accordance, PCF's Model School Program (MSP) is a school transformation program to create a school that is effective, innovative, and responsive to the needs of students and the broader community. Ultimately, this program hinges on our firm belief that real change has to happen from within; any number of interventions will not be successful unless they can bring about a positive change in the mindset of the community.

The MSP is a three-year school transformation program to adopt a rural school and shape it to be effective, innovative, and responsive to the needs of students and the broader community. The five pillars of the MSP are: Infrastructure to Support Learning, Holistic Education, Being Future Forward, Collaborative Communities, and Student Focus. 

Infrastructure to Support Learning

The Sustainable Development Goals emphasize the importance of inclusive and safe learning environments that integrate different sciences and involve all stakeholders in decision-making. PCF’s approach, aligned with the SDGs, emphasizes the need for a fitting alignment between pedagogy and physical spaces in schools. We believe that design elements impact learning, making it crucial to prioritize student well-being and engagement. We focus on school beautification to create an inclusive, interactive, and collaborative learning space. 

Holistic Education

Our approach to holistic education encourages students to go beyond traditional classroom learning, explore diverse disciplines, develop connections between them, and engage in experiential learning. We promote the development of essential skills through activities outside the classroom, which can lead to a greater sense of purpose and motivation in their academic pursuits. We do this through co-curricular activity integration, workshops, field visits, and other engagement opportunities. 

Being Future Forward

Bridging the rural-urban technological divide requires sustainable interventions to improve internet access, introduce digital learning in schools, and familiarize students with responsible digital practices. This is exactly what PCF aims to do through the integration of digital libraries, e-learning programs, and smart classes amongst other interventions according to the specific needs of rural schools. 

Collaborative Communities

The involvement of educators, parents, and local leaders in education reform ensures a holistic approach that aligns with the specific needs and aspirations of the community, addresses learning deficits, and overcomes societal barriers. PCF inculcates a growth mindset in communities through parent financial literacy programs, teaching training programs, and community engagement initiatives. 

Student Focus

A student-focused approach in education recognizes the uniqueness of each student, tailoring instruction to their specific needs, maximizing engagement and learning potential. The MSP empowers students through career counseling programs, mental health workshops, and other resources that ensure the well-being of students and equip them with future-ready skills for success in a rapidly-changing world.


Reforming rural education in India is an enormous task; it involves sustained efforts to engage with the community successfully, implement initiatives in an effective way, and measure progress such that our strategy aligns with the needs of the communities we work with. However, as Margaret Mead says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

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