It’s an established fact that countries that have done well economically have benefitted from a robust public school system. And nowhere are strong public schools more important than in emerging economies like India. In 2009 India passed the Right to Education Act guaranteeing every child between the ages of 6-14 free education at a neighborhood school.
Since that time, the Indian government has done an exceptional job increasing children’s access to education. During the past eight years, the government has constructed hundreds of thousands of schools and hired millions of teachers, reducing the number of children not enrolled in school from 32 million to just under 2 million.
Unfortunately, access to a schoolroom doesn't always go hand-in-hand with quality education. The overwhelming majority of India’s public schools face challenges that make learning difficult: 26 percent of rural schools have no running water, endure chronic absenteeism of 30 percent or more, are staffed by a great many unqualified teachers, and have little in the way of money to spend on improving their situation. It’s easy to see why 29 percent of Indian children drop out before completing their first five years.
One particular challenge for Indian state schools is that, until they reach grade six, children do not have desks (the schools can’t afford them). Students sit for hours doing their lessons hunched over on the floor. This leads to uncomfortable posture, poor eyesight and bad handwriting. It’s no wonder absenteeism is so high.
Fortunately, Shobha Murthy is coming to the rescue. Murthy is the founder of Aarambh, an NGO that focuses on children’s education, and has come up with an economical and effective solution. Murthy recently introduced the Help Desk, an ingenious combination school-bag and desk made of discarded cardboard for less than the U.S. equivalent of $0.20.
Students have a convenient and portable container in which to carry their papers and pencils to school. When they get to school they simply unfold the container into a functioning desk. When classes are finished, they refold their desk into a school-bag. The students are also more comfortable and better able to focus on their lessons. With care, a typical Help Desk lasts between four and six months.
So what does this have to do with TestOut? A lot considering that TestOut courseware is spreading throughout India as a way to educate and prepare students for IT jobs. It’s been said that there are more Indian students seeking certifications than there are tech workers in the U.S. With a population of 1.3 billion, thousands of tech companies and millions of students seeking various IT certifications, India is the new frontier. And TestOut is staking its claim!
India has long been a nation of innovators, and they’ve given the world some great advances like the game of chess, spinning wheels, algebra, buttons and even shampoo (it’s a Hindi word meaning “massage”). Since 2006, India has become a player in the world market with the highest export growth rate of any country (21 percent), compared to Brazil (15 percent) and the United States (nine percent), and they are one of the top five food exporting countries in the world. For 2016, India’s GDP will have grown another seven percent.
As India continues to modernize and increase access to the internet there are going to tremendous opportunities for IT training, and TestOut is poised to make a splash.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry.