Poor learning outcomes

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 – a household survey – put out by the NGO, Pratham, is a consistent and excellent source of information on the quantity and quality of primary education in India.

The trends in quality measured in reading, arithmetic and English are disconcerting.

For instance, children in Class III who can read at least a Class I text has dropped consistently from about 50% to about 40% and children in Class III who can do at least subtraction has dropped from 40% to 25%.

So while the RTE Act 2009 has ensured almost 100% enrolment in our primary schools, the sad fact is that our children aren’t adequately learning.

Reasons for this include a culture of rote learning and poor teacher accountability in our schools. In addition, during the last decade the government has recognised the need to start the formal learning process earlier.

The Government of India approved the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy in 2013.

In some of the slums where CR operates, our surveys report the following


High levels of illiteracy with only 59% of over 18 year old never having attending school.


Pressure to earn, do household chores, get married and general lack of parental guidance are reasons for not attending school

Lack of appropriate skills and job-readiness

Economic forecasters predict that India’s economy will climb to the world’s third largest in the next decade, surpassed by only the U.S. and China. 

However, despite rapid economic growth, unemployment is rising as the country’s level of skill intensity and modern education is not at par with the demands of a technology-driven economy.

Extra-curricular Activities

Extra-curricular activities such as sports, singing, dancing and drawing are important to the overall child’s development. Studies have shown that student who participate in extra-curricular activities:


show a marked improvement in grades


are better team-players & therefore more employment ready


discover other non-academic skills that they can make a career out of

While Calcutta Rescue children may live in harsh environments, where alcohol, drugs and physical abuse is common and where access to basic human needs like clean drinking water, toilets and electricity is difficult, it is CR’s strongly felt belief that these children can succeed and realise their potential.

Calcutta Rescue runs two educational institutes, which provide love, care, support and a safe learning environment for Kolkata’s street and slum children. At our centres we do more than just teach. We know that in order to learn, children must be well fed, healthy, active and have the appropriate clothing and equipment – we try to provide everything the children need that they are not able to get at home or at their school.

Calcutta Rescue does not run a fully-fledged school for Class I to XII following reasons:

  1. The problem of learning outcomes mentioned earlier is mainly due to poor literacy and numeracy skills. If a child can read, then he/she can learn GK, History and Geography. If a child can do maths, he/she can better follow the sciences. CR focuses heavily on numeracy and literacy (Hindi/Bengali & English) and much less on other subjects.
  2. It gives CR the flexibility of focusing on other important areas also like vocational skills & extra-curricular activities.
  3. CR wishes to work with the government system rather than in isolation – it has good relationships with government schools principals and together we are better able to develop and motivate the child.
  4. Realising the limited capabilities of the government school, some mothers have a desire to send their children either to an English medium private school or to private tuition; however they cannot afford to do so.
  5. CR is able to reach many more children with this model – our cost per student is much less (Rs. 2,000 per month per child incl admin costs) than if CR was to run a school. Average cost per student per month in government school is ten times higher at Rs. 14,615 and while that of private school is 4 times higher at Rs 5,961.