In recent years, the Indian government has focused on making schools more accessible so that more Indian children can participate in India’s extraordinary economic growth. Enrollment in India’s public and private schools has increased, yet the country still struggles with improving the low quality of education. It’s estimated that 53 percent of fifth graders can’t read at a second grade level. Meanwhile, 46 percent can’t solve a two-digit subtraction problem. Unfortunately, the quality education challenge in India extends beyond primary and secondary schooling. Although India is experiencing strong economic growth, there is an imminent shortage of skilled employees. In a workforce of more than 495 million, less than 10 percent possess employable skills despite informal and formal vocational training programs. Over the next ten years, 500 million youth will need to be skilled to support market demands.
We are encouraged by the new and unprecedented focus placed by the Indian government on improving education quality, job training and catalyzing an environment for entrepreneurial growth. We know that giving people living in urban poverty the right financial tools, skills development and employment opportunities can lead to better health and education. We have learned that urban youth from low-income families are ambitious, and they seek a path to the middle class and not just a minimum wage job. We know that all parents, no matter what their economic status, want the best education for their children.