TEDxGateway 2018! How BCG’s Seema Bansal is working towards improving education outcomes
Seema Bansal joined Boston Consulting Group in 2000, before which she interned with Whirlpool India. Today, she is an associate director at BCG’s New Delhi office and leads the firm’s Social Impact practice in India.

Broken education system 

“Like most things in India, education also follows the 99% and 1% rule. While 1%-2% of our student population, which is about 25-30 lakh students, get high-quality education through world-class private schools, majority of the school-aged children languish in low-cost, low-quality private schools or government anganwadis and schools. India’s growth story has always hinged upon its demographic dividend. However, in the light of the currently broken education system, the narrative is slowly shifting to one of missed opportunities and demographic disaster.”

System overhaul

“Already, approximately 40% of India’s student population goes to private schools. This is amongst the highest anywhere in the world. And, unless drastic measures are taken, this number could inch towards 60%-70% in the coming decade. I would like to see the Indian public education system achieve three goals: Firstly, regain relevance by stemming the downhill slide in student enrolment and beginning to see reverse migration from private schools into public schools. Then basic foundational learning: No child in our country should lack basic literacy and numeracy. And finally, support our young adults into becoming productive citizens through a combination of knowledge, social and emotional skills and positive values.”

Genuine intent 

“Working with the government has taken me by surprise. While the most difficult element has been getting used to government processes, I am truly awed by the sheer force the government can exercise when it desires to. Initiatives at unimaginable scale —for example, a remediation programme running 1 lakh schools and 1 crore children — can be designed and rolled out in a manner of months. I am also surprised by the intent to do the right thing and to make a change for the better within the government. From the outside, because positive results are hard to see, we often attribute lack of progress to lack of intent. Results are typically lacking because of system complexity and lack of rigour in approach and not because of an intent deficit.”

Respecting teachers

“The children who come to government schools come from backgrounds and homes that we cannot imagine. Understanding their reality would be the first eye-opener. Second would be physical and emotional stamina. Standing in front of a class of 30-50 kids and attempting to teach them a variety of subjects in a span of four to five hours requires immense physical strength and emotional energy.”

Achievements

Seema Bansal’s notable achievement, through BCG, has been turning around the educational outcome in Haryana, where within two years, student learning achievement levels showed steep ascent. She has an MBA from IIM, Calcutta, and a degree in electronics and communications from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh.

(This 10th edition of the TEDxGateway sees over 20+ speakers from different walks of life sharing unique ideas that make them an inspiration the world over. Over 5500 attendees are slated to attend this feast of ideas and inspiration on December 2 at DOME @ NSCI Mumbai.)

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