Gaps in Mathematics Education in India
Basic numerical, mathematical, and scientific skills are an important mechanism to further education and enable individuals to improve their job market potential. However, recent international assessments paint a bleak picture of mathematics achievement in India, especially for minority students. In 2009 on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) India ranked 73 out of 74, trailing far behind the other countries which participated such as South Korea, Singapore, and the United States (Anirudh Sethi Report, 2011; Indian Express, 2012).
The situation is equally bad at the early grades. The Annual Status Education Report (ASER) in India, showed that approximately 73% of grade 3 students in rural India could not recognize numbers past 9, and could not complete any type of mathematical operations required at their level (ASER, 2011). If these students are fortunate to stay and advance in school, they end up learning basic math skills in grade 6, instead of grades 2 or 3 (Global Partnership for Education, 2012).
There are a range of factors that can work to undermine students’ ability to perform well in mathematics, but mainly these factors are exacerbated when students come from marginalized backgrounds where family support, poor living conditions, and other challenges associated with poverty impact their lives and education.
Parikrma SCHOOL in Bangalore, INDIA
Bangalore is the IT capital of India, and because of the IT boom over the last two decades the population in the city has grown from 4.3 million in 2001 to 10 million people in 2015. The growth of the city’s population is primarily due to employment associated with IT companies. Over a million people work in the IT sector in Bangalore and 90% of them have private school education. Unfortunately 85% of India’s children cannot access these jobs.
The IT boom in Bangalore has also attracted families from all over India who live below the poverty line to work and live in Bangalore. Earning members of these households work in construction, cleaning services, as drivers, and other related jobs. Along with the IT boom, the real estate prices have skyrocketed in Bangalore, and cost of living can be difficult. Most of these families live in the slums of Bangalore which 2.5 million people occupy.
Parikrama Foundation, an NGO based in Bangalore, was created in 2003 to provide free education from KG to 12th for children from marginalized backgrounds. They serve over 1700 children, over 900 families, and work across 70 slums and four orphanages in Bangalore. Not only do they support their students to 12th grade, but they also provide college scholarships to ensure they graduates pursue higher education and are employable. Currently 204 of their children are in college. They provide instruction in English and follow the CBSE curriculum. They also provide their students three meals a day, and a comprehensive health care check-up which includes medical and dental.
 360 million of India’s 1 billion people live below the poverty line. That is approximately 36% of the population.