How to fix a broken education system … without any more money | Seema Bansal

How to fix a broken education system … without any more money | Seema Bansal

So we all have our own biases. For example, some of us tend to think that it’s very difficult to transform
failing government systems. When we think of government systems, we tend to think that they’re archaic,
set in their ways, and perhaps, the leadership
is just too bureaucratic to be able to change things. Well, today, I want
to challenge that theory. I want to tell you a story
of a very large government system that has not only put itself
on the path of reform but has also shown
fairly spectacular results in less than three years. This is what a classroom
in a public school in India looks like. There are 1 million such schools in India. And even for me,
who’s lived in India all her life, walking into one of these schools
is fairly heartbreaking. By the time kids are 11, 50 percent of them have fallen
so far behind in their education that they have no hope to recover. 11-year-olds cannot do simple addition, they cannot construct
a grammatically correct sentence. These are things that you and I
would expect an 8-year-old to be able to do. By the time kids are 13 or 14, they tend to drop out of schools. In India, public schools
not only offer free education — they offer free textbooks,
free workbooks, free meals, sometimes even cash scholarships. And yet, 40 percent of the parents today are choosing to pull their children
out of public schools and pay out of their pockets
to put them in private schools. As a comparison,
in a far richer country, the US, that number is only 10 percent. That’s a huge statement on how broken
the Indian public education system is. So it was with that background
that I got a call in the summer of 2013 from an absolutely brilliant lady
called Surina Rajan. She was, at that time, the head
of the Department of School Education in a state called Haryana in India. So she said to us, “Look, I’ve been
heading this department for the last two years. I’ve tried a number of things,
and nothing seems to work. Can you possibly help?” Let me describe Haryana
a little bit to you. Haryana is a state
which has 30 million people. It has 15,000 public schools and 2 million plus
children in those public schools. So basically, with that phone call, I promised to help a state and system which was as large as that of Peru
or Canada transform itself. As I started this project,
I was very painfully aware of two things. One, that I had never done
anything like this before. And two, many others had,
perhaps without too much success. As my colleagues and I
looked across the country and across the world, we couldn’t find another example that we could just pick up
and replicate in Haryana. We knew that we had to craft
our own journey. But anyway, we jumped right in
and as we jumped in, all sorts of ideas started flying at us. People said, “Let’s change
the way we recruit teachers, let’s hire new principals and train them and send them on international
learning tours, let’s put technology inside classrooms.” By the end of week one,
we had 50 ideas on the table, all amazing, all sounded right. There was no way we were
going to be able to implement 50 things. So I said, “Hang on, stop. Let’s first at least decide
what is it we’re trying to achieve.” So with a lot of push and pull and debate, Haryana set itself a goal
which said: by 2020, we want 80 percent of our children
to be at grade-level knowledge. Now the specifics of the goal
don’t matter here, but what matters
is how specific the goal is. Because it really allowed us
to take all those ideas which were being thrown at us and say which ones
we were going to implement. Does this idea support this goal?
If yes, let’s keep it. But if it doesn’t or we’re not sure,
then let’s put it aside. As simple as it sounds,
having a very specific goal right up front has really allowed us to be
very sharp and focused in our transformation journey. And looking back over
the last two and a half years, that has been a huge positive for us. So we had the goal, and now we needed to figure out
what are the issues, what is broken. Before we went into schools,
a lot of people told us that education quality is poor because either the teachers are lazy,
they don’t come into schools, or they’re incapable,
they actually don’t know how to teach. Well, when we went inside schools,
we found something completely different. On most days, most teachers
were actually inside schools. And when you spoke with them, you realized they were perfectly capable
of teaching elementary classes. But they were not teaching. I went to a school where the teachers were getting
the construction of a classroom and a toilet supervised. I went to another school where two of the teachers
had gone to a nearby bank branch to deposit scholarship money
into kids’ accounts. At lunchtime, most teachers
were spending all of their time getting the midday meal cooking,
supervised and served to the students. So we asked the teachers, “What’s going on,
why are you not teaching?” And they said, “This is
what’s expected of us. When a supervisor comes to visit us, these are exactly the things
that he checks. Has the toilet been made,
has the meal been served. When my principal
goes to a meeting at headquarters, these are exactly the things
which are discussed.” You see, what had happened was,
over the last two decades, India had been fighting the challenge
of access, having enough schools, and enrollment, bringing children
into the schools. So the government
launched a whole host of programs to address these challenges, and the teachers became
the implicit executors of these programs. Not explicitly, but implicitly. And now, what was actually needed
was not to actually train teachers further or to monitor their attendance but to tell them
that what is most important is for them to go back
inside classrooms and teach. They needed to be monitored
and measured and awarded on the quality of teaching and not on all sorts of other things. So as we went through
the education system, as we delved into it deeper,
we found a few such core root causes which were determining, which were
shaping how people behaved in the system. And we realized that unless we change
those specific things, we could do a number of other things. We could train, we could put
technology into schools, but the system wouldn’t change. And addressing these non-obvious
core issues became a key part of the program. So, we had the goal and we had the issues, and now we needed to figure out
what the solutions were. We obviously did not want
to recreate the wheel, so we said, “Let’s look around
and see what we can find.” And we found these beautiful,
small pilot experiments all over the country
and all over the world. Small things being done by NGOs,
being done by foundations. But what was also interesting
was that none of them actually scaled. All of them were limited
to 50, 100 or 500 schools. And here, we were looking
for a solution for 15,000 schools. So we looked into why, if these things actually work,
why don’t they actually scale? What happens is that
when a typical NGO comes in, they not only bring in their expertise but they also bring in
additional resources. So they might bring in money, they might bring in people, they might bring in technology. And in the 50 or 100 schools
that they actually operate in, those additional resources
actually create a difference. But now imagine that the head of this NGO goes to the head
of the School Education Department and says, “Hey, now let’s do this
for 15,000 schools.” Where is that guy or girl
going to find the money to actually scale this up
to 15,000 schools? He doesn’t have the additional money, he doesn’t have the resources. And hence, innovations don’t scale. So right at the beginning
of the project, what we said was, “Whatever we have to do
has to be scalable, it has to work in all 15,000 schools.” And hence, it has to work
within the existing budgets and resources that the state actually has. Much easier said than done. (Laughter) I think this was definitely
the point in time when my team hated me. We spent a lot of long hours
in office, in cafés, sometimes even in bars, scratching out heads and saying, “Where are the solutions,
how are we going to solve this problem?” In the end, I think we did
find solutions to many of the issues. I’ll give you an example. In the context of effective learning, one of the things people talk about
is hands-on learning. Children shouldn’t memorize
things from books, they should do activities, and that’s a more effective way to learn. Which basically means
giving students things like beads, learning rods, abacuses. But we did not have
the budgets to give that to 15,000 schools, 2 million children. We needed another solution. We couldn’t think of anything. One day, one of our team members
went to a school and saw a teacher pick up sticks
and stones from the garden outside and take them into the classroom and give them to the students. That was a huge eureka moment for us. So what happens now
in the textbooks in Haryana is that after every concept,
we have a little box which are instructions
for the teachers which say, “To teach this concept,
here’s an activity that you can do. And by the way, in order
to actually do this activity, here are things that you can use
from your immediate environment, whether it be the garden outside
or the classroom inside, which can be used
as learning aids for kids.” And we see teachers all over Haryana using lots of innovative things
to be able to teach students. So in this way, whatever we designed, we were actually able to implement it across all 15,000 schools from day one. Now, this brings me to my last point. How do you implement something
across 15,000 schools and 100,000 teachers? The department used to have a process which is very interesting. I like to call it “The Chain of Hope.” They would write a letter
from the headquarters and send it to the next level, which was the district offices. They would hope that in each
of these district offices, an officer would get the letter,
would open it, read it and then forward it to the next level, which was the block offices. And then you would hope
that at the block office, somebody else got the letter, opened it, read it and forwarded it
eventually to the 15,000 principals. And then one would hope
that the principals got the letter, received it,
understood it and started implementing it. It was a little bit ridiculous. Now, we knew technology was the answer, but we also knew
that most of these schools don’t have a computer or email. However, what the teachers do have
are smartphones. They’re constantly on SMS,
on Facebook and on WhatsApp. So what now happens in Haryana is, all principals and teachers are divided
into hundreds of WhatsApp groups and anytime something needs
to be communicated, it’s just posted across
all WhatsApp groups. It spreads like wildfire. You can immediately check
who has received it, who has read it. Teachers can ask clarification
questions instantaneously. And what’s interesting is, it’s not just the headquarters
who are answering these questions. Another teacher from
a completely different part of the state will stand up and answer the question. Everybody’s acting
as everybody’s peer group, and things are getting implemented. So today, when you go
to a school in Haryana, things look different. The teachers are back inside classrooms, they’re teaching. Often with innovative techniques. When a supervisor
comes to visit the classroom, he or she not only checks
the construction of the toilet but also what is the quality of teaching. Once a quarter,
all students across the state are assessed on their learning outcomes and schools which are
doing well are rewarded. And schools which are not doing so well find themselves having
difficult conversations. Of course, they also get
additional support to be able to do better in the future. In the context of education, it’s very difficult
to see results quickly. When people talk about systemic,
large-scale change, they talk about periods
of 7 years and 10 years. But not in Haryana. In the last one year, there have been
three independent studies, all measuring student learning outcomes, which indicate that something fundamental, something unique is happening in Haryana. Learning levels of children
have stopped declining, and they have started going up. Haryana is one of the few
states in the country which is showing an improvement, and certainly the one that is showing
the fastest rate of improvement. These are still early signs, there’s a long way to go, but this gives us a lot of hope
for the future. I recently went to a school, and as I was leaving, I ran into a lady, her name was Parvati, she was the mother of a child, and she was smiling. And I said, “Why are you smiling,
what’s going on?” And she said, “I don’t know
what’s going on, but what I do know
is that my children are learning, they’re having fun, and for the time being, I’ll stop
my search for a private school to send them to.” So I go back to where I started: Can government systems transform? I certainly believe so. I think if you give them the right levers, they can move mountains. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How to fix a broken education system … without any more money | Seema Bansal

  1. Get the Federal out of it…BOOM solved. Bring back curiosity, imagination, and creativity…down with standardized testing

  2. 1. No figures were provided.
    2. Problem was teacher were doing something else than teaching (5:02), however solution said teaching ideas were shared through whatsapp. If teachers were doing something else at the time they should teach how will they implement Ideas being shared on whatsapp

  3. I see one wrinkle in that whole story. The school board knew something was wrong and was willing to change. Many government organisations worldwide do not realize that there is a problem and do not want to change. And getting a large-scale system to change when it is not willing is, at best, very hard.
    Still, it is great for that place and I congratulate them on their success and hope it continues to work!

  4. You fixed a minor problem in an entirely shattered system, not a broken one. Indian education as I know it has been too standardized and killed any hope for creativity in children. 5-7 year olds are far too creative than you and me by nature, instead of cultivating that, education system just shoved standardized curriculum down their throat.
    Teachers have soo much power in their hand. Partiality, abuse of power and grades through sycophancy is essence of every classroom… result? No healthy skepticism in students.
    Grades, oh mighty grades. You know what happens in most first lectures? "Yeh chapters khas padh lo, exam k lie important hai" (translation: learn these chapters, it's important from examination point of view). Instead of teaching children how math and geometry can applied to real world problems, we give them useless numerical problems. Instead of teaching how historical events teach us the way of living, we force them to remember timeline of events with date/year.

    Now let's talk about higher-ed, our universities don't have "major" system, students decide their major too early in life and a lot of them regret their decision. This happens mostly because they didn't have any idea about the degree program they were getting into.

  5. The real problem of education are the distractions children have today. Im teaching maths, and i know first hand how much TV the children watch every day. My suggestion first is to get rid of the TV in the house. In mine there is no TV since 2005. We replaced the TV news with newspapers. When the children want to watch a show they can find it online, but they choose instead of watching whatever the TV is feeding them. Without TV the family communication improved by a thousand. And children use their logic and can hold adult interesting conversations. Those are the first steps for a better education. But also requires parents to be thinkers of course and to be at least as intelligence as the children. I agree with improving the education, to spend less for war and more for schools but also at home the environment must be challenging. 11 years without TV and the family life is amazingly better.

  6. Whoever is putting annotations in the middle of the video, trying to make us go somewhere else, needs to realize we're trying to watch the damn talk – Place the annotations at the end like most other channels do.

  7. Typical Ted talk, all smiles and big talk, she said they discovered "core issues" without saying what they were and how they discovered it, talked about "teachers using innovative tools " but didn't show what they were, no examples. She didn't illustrate the work at all. Just we did this.. and that that…

  8. Talk, talk, and more talk…
    Can't believe she's an educator or problem solver based on her boring presentation without any info-graphic, video, more photo, statistics, and generally lack data.

    No wonder Indian education is failing just like this feel happy cliche so call presentation.

  9. What I don't get is…why doesn't ANYBODY SPEAK UP for the U.S education system….literally after 2 years of high school and then only thing i learned is….how to form 1 sentence in spanish and some simple writing grammar…everything else was just forgotten and that's the issue ( While schools in places like india need more money and technology for kids to learn simple common knowledge, america which has it all ( mostly) implements usless subjects and crap that even teachers say we won't use or remember)

  10. Sorry Seema but to fix our education system we need to get rid of "No child left behind" and the now the UN's Sustainable Development's Agenda-21. It is the most hideous way to subvert our education system turning our children in stupid unthinking zombies. Also considering your accent I don't think you have been in the US long enough to be able to make a righteous decision as to Agenda-21's destructive capabilities.

  11. Great efforts to bring in the improvements. The idea of using materials in immediate surrounding as a teaching aid is simple and effective at the same time. Use of whatsapp group for faster spread of information is an efficient move but what's more important in this case too is that there should be a mechanism to look over the implementation of orders texted are in time and up to the mark.

  12. I have seen number of TED talks. But this one is an awe-inspiring example of real change only with persistence and ingenuity

  13. You want to change the education system in the U.S? Quit the standardization and work with every student individually – considering everyone learns and digests information differently. Critical thinkers are but a minority these days and usually rebel from the thought of higher education because they realize (In the U.S at least) it is nothing but a financial snare. Universities have changed in a major fashion… they are more of a business now… and the product you receive for your payment – a certificate and zero, "real world experience." (In a lot of cases)

  14. Another moral of the story, it's amazing just how rotten a system can get when most people in it just don't care, or feel hopeless. And it's great to see how quickly it can change with just one small group that cares.

  15. Much of this is covered by Robert Mager's work: Preparing Instructional Objectives, Measuring Instructional Results, Analyzing Performance Problems and Goal Analysis, as applied to the Teachers and their management as well as the students.

  16. nice work but it is work only 1% when the supervisor is come to check school (which is already inform to teachers) & all the things are created for one day….

  17. India really needs a change in the education/goverment system because in listening to this talk I immediatly though of those solutions before she mentioned them. And what scares me is that my own goverment might be doing the same thing, scratching their heads about problems that a common person might already have a solution.

  18. Very inspiring and commendable how people like her are dedicating so much effort to this cause with all their heart. A good education is definitely one of the fundamental rights of every child and probably the one issue that requires utmost attention in India. I hope more people step up to this cause and are able to transform the broken system. A society cannot get closer to being more equal if its education system is so unequal for different segments of the population.

  19. teachers are so underrated. most teachers are overworked and over-stressed but their salary is low. we need to treat them better like how we treat doctors, lawyers and all that. even being a teacher is not highly regarded in society as doctors, engineers or lawyers do. they directly teach us and our kids, give us the knowledge that we need to know for everyone to be a better person and that is truly admirable. great teachers can help slow learners to be advance learners. so teachers should be treated better, give them high salary and quit bothering them with unnecessary work like admin work, filing, check this and that and let them do what they're good at, teach. also progress to make teachers better too, if the teacher is not performing well, train them, let them go for courses so they can learn more and teach better. and this goes out to any kind of teacher, kindergarten teachers, school teachers, universities teachers, teachers who teach special need children, the work of all teachers are truly admirable.

  20. I tink tis tings in the fiteen tousand schools should be fixed by twenty-tirty. Let's do it one ting by one ting, starting with the small ting first. Tis is good tinking to do someting good.

  21. The problem with American public schools is that many of them cater to the lowest class of the students, the students who do not care to learn. Teachers are stuck bringing up them are caring for them like they are babies, thus halting the rest of the class. Inadvertently, they are trying to bring the subaverage level students up to standard, instead of pushing standard students to reach their full potential. How can that be fixed? Im not sure, but the disruptive students have to find it in themselves. Personal responsibility. Trust me, I see it everyday in my classes in highschool.

  22. certainly theTALKER has not studied in India (or read NCERT books properly) these books provides activity at the end of each topic , but i hv never seen that activities making any difference …. this happens when u give the charge to solve the problem to someone who has never faced it . yet, best of luck

  23. In my school, we take a standardized test that rates how well our school teaches certain subjects, which were English and Math. The average score in the school was below state average, so the school ordered English and Math teachers to give us more homework.

    I don't know what made them think that was a good idea. Homework is supposed to be based around things that we learn in class. For me at least, I don't usually learn many new things from the homework at all, it just helps me memorize the things I learned in class.
    The only thing that does successfully is make things a bit more stressful…

  24. To whoever is reading: You should follow that feeling what you get in your heart. When something doesn't feel right or when something needs to be changed. But most of the time, make sure your heart is in the right place.♨💗💥

  25. احسنتى انتى وفريق عملك
    نحن بمصر نحب الهند جداً ونحب الممثل اميتبات شان وشاروخان
    وانتم مجتهدون ورائعون ربنا يوفقكم ، نجوان صادق ، مدربة تنمية بشرية للاطفال

  26. Sorry but those blocks at the end of the chapter might only help if anyone sees it. because teacher's in my school never brought in any activity to learn better even though it wasn't a government school. teachers are only after finishing their portion faster, cause then they can go for a longer leave. Sadly Indian education system does require a meaningful change. Cause it's knowledge that counts and not the marks.

  27. Nothing has changed in Haryana till date, its all hullabaloo. When teachers are using social media how they're teaching at the same time. I am in Haryana now, even Govt. has tied up with DAV Society, a private organisation for education. Reality is bitter.

  28. Why We are behind compare to other's country in so many sectors so follow my below tips for education

    Methods of Education

    Agriculter Education — appoint student's whom's want to learn from that way, Education will be only 1st to 10th std
    when will be he/she got certificate from 10th std (Last year) after that appoint them's in Millitery organistaion
    for take 2 year's study from Millitery organistation (Child year's Ratio will be 10th class (16 year old) + 2 year's = 18 (Capable to work)
    Purpose of Lesson (1st to 10th Std) ———-
    1) Our treditional Language like Marathi,hindi,Guj etc
    2) English
    3)For Aggriculter only
    4) mathes with Bumiti
    5) Sic with Bhugoal

    Genral Education —-(Where are Student's want to learn after 10th class Like Com,Art and Sic also other Digaree coureses)
    Purpose of Lesson (1st to 10th Std)
    1) Our treditional Language
    2) English
    3) Mathes with Bhumiti
    5) Sic with Bugoal
    6) For Decent and Activites classes
    no need to teach about History

    Arts (BA) ———- (only for Techer's and Low Student's)
    1) Our treditional language
    2) English
    3) For Decent and Activites
    4) History
    5) chose our selected language (Book) only for teachers like mathes,sic,Bhugoal etc)
    6) Low Releted Book only for Low Student's

    Comm ( ——————— (Business and MBA student's)
    1) English
    2) BK
    3) OC
    4) Eco
    5)SP or Mathes

    Sic (MA)————— (Engg and Doctors)
    1) English
    All Subjects was taken in Right manner like Bio,phis,chemistri,mathes etc so no need to changes

    Need to get all above students knowledge from Typewriter and Computer Machines because of it's new jenration purpose of our Speed with Kadam kadam Bhadaye ja …………..jai Hind jai Bharat

  29. Okay! So I can agree to that she tried but I live in haryana and I know since last 3 years teachers are staying(working,as what is expected from them) outside, supervising 10 times more than ever before. Really appreciate your efforts but you are not familiar with results. Sorry!

  30. im a professional artist in an video game industry at 15yrs old, making $120,000 a yr which is 3 times as much a teacher makes ($45,000) going through school and fucking college

  31. We help you to develop powerful earning Business Source which requires all education industry need. DMIT .US has over 5 years of experience in the development of DMIT Software. please contact us:

  32. I don't know, but why is it so hard for us to start a reform ourselves?

    Maybe because our minds have been washed by this education system into believing that until we have some tags or are verified as some Reformer or Politicial, we cannot do anything.

    This is WHAT the Education System is making us do. And you know, as much as everyone realizes it, the Reform, the Protests are bound to come. The Education System will be sued by our Future Generations, if not by us. But if we want to do something, something as little than I think we must Spread the Knowledge. Spread Awareness. So that we do not see Young, Beautiful and Creative minds being sued again and again. Let us stand – FOR THE CAUSE, today.


  33. i really think this issue should be taken very seriously because the teacher either of Public or private schools are just for the name sake. Teachers themselves don't have core knowledge about the subjects and concepts which they personally taught to their students in Education Centers. Many trusts and managements wow are least bother about the education quality which is been provided by their school teachers.

    An English Teacher is forced to teach the subjects in which he himself is poor and weak. Then how can you expect bright future for our country by giving this poor and Inferior Quality Education.

    worst things which I'm have observed is unprofessional-ism in An Education Center. i.e Internal Politics. Personal Attachments why i just don t understand this ………You have sympathy and soft corner for them do it personally not on the basis of our country future.

    Seema Bansal and speakers like her who are really working hard in improving quality of Education. I will be very happy to join them. For any further queries and assistance write us on [email protected]

    Mueen Ashrafee.
    Graduate Cell
    All India Qaumi Tanzeem.

  34. Edcation and medical should be free.In india we join private school from hefty fee then go to tution or coaching to learn what taught in school .


  36. India has too much people and that is why India doesn't have money for education. You can fix some problems with education, but in some point the whole government and the country will collapse.

  37. Learning mathematics should follow the ancient Sanskrit way with intonations. It will be memorized easily.

  38. Australia has one of the worst education systems in the world, sign this petition to help us change it to be more progressive like Finland or Slovenia.

  39. 8:30 Scalable Reforms/ Changes.

    In The Society, We need to Learn to RESPECT TEACHERS MORE. If they will feel proud, they will give their best for Teaching.
    + Parents need to Learn, Marks or, Grades are not the only criteria of long-term success. Practice Solving real-life problems in creative ways, Read Robert Kiyosaki. Watch Batrick Pet-David, Vivek Bindra.

  40. sorry did she say that she wanted to help transform a state the size of peru or canada i really hope she knows how big Canada is

  41. You are telling half truth ma'am
    But not know why
    Our schools are in far better position in infrastructures and technology
    Your organizations what did, it was upto surface level
    There are coming other NGOs too that doing great field work here…
    But it was nice to listen to you on this platform
    But again would say
    This is very half picture

  42. Psalm 12:8. There's only one way to permanently fix American educational system BAN ALL LGBTQ teachers and professors NOW!

  43. A good point was made by her that the government expects their teachers to do everything but teach children. My mother and my aunts are govt school teachers and they get posted to election duties, board exam duties and what not. Sometimes they have to travel farther from their school locations everyday due to these tasks.
    Teachers are capable but the authority and the syllabus restrict the full use of their potential.🙁🙁🙁

  44. Come on America teach your student how to be Entrepreneurs, Problem solvers, creative thinkers, Not mindless workers.

  45. Can I talk to miss Seema bansal I also have the same plan for the govt schools students so please need to talk.. Tell me how we can get connected…

  46. I am from Haryana and our teachers never do any sort of activity , well this sounds good(your speech) but really there's no solution😒

  47. the education system in india is bogus. the whole syllabus and technique of teaching is worst.
    We want student only centered school.
    Like Rabindranath tagore
    Students should follow their own path
    Teachers should support that
    But unfortunately india and many countries like U.S the conventional system is destroying students like cancer

  48. It is not just school, university system also need a fundamental change. I am a MBA student I can learn alot and focus more about problem solving skills or how to be a great researcher but instead teachers always talk about exam and all I want to do is read for my exams, I mean what is this? We passed alot of exams before in school and bachelors so let me be innovative and learn new things and focus about the things that really matters I don't know I am done with all the stress and this ridiculous systems.

  49. Ppl belive that having an education is enough for a nation its not about having an education system in place it's about how that education system functions if we can change the education system and the way schools are run in general, we can change many issues in the world.

    Remember that education is not only the knowledge of subjects but knowledge of truth, society and tolerance

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