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Rukmini Banerji | Ideas for India

Rukmini Banerji
Pratham
rukmini.banerji@pratham.org
Rukmini Banerji is Director of ASER Centre, the autonomous research and assessment unit of Pratham. She has also been a member of the national leadership team of Pratham, a large scale citizens’ initiative to universalize elementary education in India. Currently Pratham works in 20 states across India and has a presence in 250 out of approximately 600 districts. Initially trained as an economist (St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and the Delhi School of Economics) Rukmini was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University between 1981 and 1983. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1991. Rukmini did her post doctoral work at the Population Research Center at the University of Chicago and later worked as a program officer at the Spencer Foundation. Originally from Bihar, she is now based in Delhi.

With Pratham, Rukmini’s work since 1996 has focused on designing and implementing large scale programs for helping primary school children learn well. This is done through building collaborative partnerships with state governments and with village communities. Much of her field experience is in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Rukmini has also been a core member of the team that designs and implements ASER (Annual Status of Education Report). ASER is the largest annual study ever done by Indian citizens to monitor the status of elementary education in the country. In the seven years since it was initiated, the ASER effort has been widely recognized for its innovative use of citizens’ participation in understanding and improving the delivery of basic services.

Articles By Rukmini Banerji
‘Teaching at the right level’: Solutions for low learning levels in India
Posted On: 26 Nov 2015

Topics:   Education

At least half of all children in India have not acquired basic literacy and arithmetic skills by the end of primary school. In this article, Rukmini Banerji of Pratham and J-PAL Director Esther Duflo present evidence that shows that significant gains in learning outcomes can be achieved by reorganising and grouping children by their learning level rather than the usual grouping by age or grade.

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Introduction to e-Symposium: Ideas for reforms in education policy in India
Posted On: 18 Nov 2015

Topics:   Education
Tags:   schooling

A New Education Policy is being formulated in India based on a time-bound grassroots consultative process. As a contribution to the discussions, Rukmini Banerji of the education NGO Pratham and Ashok Kotwal, Editor-in-Chief, I4I, are hosting an e-symposium on ideas for reforms in education policy. Over the next few days, the e-symposium will bring together key findings from recent research in education and experience-based insights by stakeholders from academia and civil society.

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Building a movement, assessment to action
Posted On: 23 Sep 2015

Topics:   Education
Tags:   schooling

While citizen-led assessments of children’s learning have been applauded for building awareness around the issue, observers have pointed out that information does not automatically galvanise action. In this article, Rukmini Banerji, of the education NGO Pratham, contends that citizen-led assessments can lead to citizen-led action for improving learning by making the problem visible, engaging with people, and demonstrating how change can be brought about.
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Taking education beyond educationists
Posted On: 09 Feb 2015

Topics:   Education
Tags:   schooling

ASER – Annual Status of Education Report – has been tracking learning outcomes of children in rural India for the past 10 years. In this note, Rukmini Banerji, Director of the ASER Centre/Pratham, highlights how this model of measurement is different from the traditional models of student assessments seen in India or elsewhere. She also points out key policy changes that have taken place in education in India, at least partly in response to ASER findings.
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Improving children’s learning: Challenges and priorities for the new government
Posted On: 14 Jul 2014

Topics:   Education
Tags:   schooling

Over the last 15 years, continued effort to universalise access to elementary education in India has resulted in high enrolment rates in schools. Now that most children are in school, policy and planning efforts are beginning to focus on improving their learning levels. This note contends that it is imperative for the new government to maintain, monitor and strengthen this priority and improve mechanisms for achieving learning goals.
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Searching for the ‘silver bullet’: What works in improving children’s learning outcomes?
Posted On: 06 Jan 2014

Topics:   Education
Tags:   schooling

Children’s learning outcomes in primary schools in India are far from satisfactory. In this article, Rukmini Banerji explores the various theories of change and associated implementation strategies that are currently at work for improving the status of learning in schools. She discusses the challenges of balancing and prioritising the different theories of change, and translating them into practice on scale.
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The invisible and urgent challenge of learning
Posted On: 20 May 2013

Topics:   Education

While almost all six to fourteen year olds in India are enrolled in school, their performance is far below expected levels. The common view is that the problem can be addressed by filling gaps in the system such as inadequate infrastructure or teacher shortage. This column argues that these inputs can ensure “schooling for all” but not “learning for all”, and suggests teaching by level rather than by grade to improve learning outcomes.
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Why Indian education needs to get back to reality
Posted On: 12 Oct 2012

Topics:   Education
Tags:   RTE

What is the best advice to give an Indian education department official? This column argues that the best thing officials can do is drop the assumptions and stick to reality – otherwise many children will be missed out and left behind.
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