How can Indian states address the learning crisis at scale?

Why India?

Schooling in India provides a stark example of the learning crisis: Although enrolment in school is near-universal, learning levels are abysmally low and have not improved despite substantial improvements in inputs. The Indian education system is also one of the most unequal in the world. And overall, the productivity of the education system in converting years in school into skills remains low, even in comparison to better-performing developing countries.

Past research has identified improvements in pedagogy and governance as the most promising avenues for improving achievement in public schools. Yet, much of this evidence has come from high-fidelity studies done at a smaller scale with motivated service-providers.  A major challenge in translating this evidence to policy is that of scaling up: reforms that succeed in small pilot projects may not work when they are attempted at a larger scale. Thus, large-scale reform will require not just identifying effective interventions but also a substantial adaptation for them to be scaled up within public schooling systems and with implementation by governments directly. India is an ideal setting for this endeavour with tremendous variation across states in the reforms undertaken by state governments, given the administrative capacity and underlying challenges.

For more about the team's work, see our list of all India Country Research Team research outputs.

Researchers and institutions

The India Country Research Team is based out of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia, which has its South Asia office at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in Chennai, India. Key researchers are based at the University of California, San Diego; the Stockholm School of Economics; and the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

A list of India Country Research Team members is available on our People page.

Research agenda

The RISE India CRT collaborates directly with state governments to identify and rigorously evaluate reforms that aim to improve learning levels, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our current work focuses on several distinct projects, implemented by governments directly at large scale, in partnership with the state governments of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. These focus on different aspects of the education system, such as improving school management and accountability, improving the integrity of state-wide assessments, the use of innovative computer-aided teaching in government schools to personalize instruction, better preschool preparation for students, and access to private schools for disadvantaged students. These reforms, in close collaboration with governments and spanning multiple states, offers researchers unique insight into how policy tools can be wielded in enormous and complex public education systems.