Urban Education

Session: Plenary

Topic: Urban Education: What we know and what we don't
Speakers: Rukmini Banerji

Session: Deep Dives

Topic: Access, retention and equity in urban schooling
Speakers: Dr Shashi Panja, Baladevan Rangaraju and Shobhita Rajagopal

Topic: Learning outcomes in urban India
Speakers: Rishikesh B.S., Subir Shukla, Vvjayanthi Sankar and Shailendra Sharma

Topic: Stakeholder Participation in urban schooling
Speakers: Vimala Ramachandran, K Vaijayanti and Dr Nalini Juneja

Topic: Education, skills and employability
Speakers: Madhav Chavan, Neeti Sharma and Yuvaraj Galada

Topic: Generating data: Methodologies for citizen-led research
Speakers: Dr Wilima Wadhwa and Ayan Biswas

Topic: Sharing data: Strategies and platforms for data access
Speakers: Yamini Aiyar, Ashok Kamath, Venu Narayan, Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Laina Emmanuel and Nisha Thompson

Rukmini Banerji

Rukmini has been in the core team of ASER since it was launched in 2005 and currently heads ASER Centre. She is responsible for Pratham programs in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and North East. Initially trained as an economist (St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and Delhi School of Economics), she was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and completed her PhD at the University of Chicago.

Shashi Panja

Shashi is Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Shyampukur Constituency, Member Mayor in Council, Dept of Education, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Councillor- Ward number 26. She is a well known medical practitioner and is presently attached to infertility clinic and IVF Research Institute. Her contribution to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation schools has redefined quality education for children- she has improved infrastructural facilities and ensured that all the children get shoes, uniforms and proper educational inputs. 

Shobhita Rajagopal

Shobhita is currently working as Associate Professor at the Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur. She has over 20 years’ experience in research and training in the area of women’s development and gender issues. Her research has primarily focused on examining and understanding different aspects of women’s subordination, women’s access to crucial resources and modes of collective empowerment. She was closely involved in the innovative educational programmes implemented in Rajasthan and has examined in depth issues related to gender and education across primary, tertiary and secondary levels.

Baladevan Rangaraju

Baladevan is Director at the independent, not-for-profit think tank India Institute. He is an education policy expert with 12 years of experience as a teacher, school administrator, researcher and activist. A staunch advocate of deregulation and market based solutions for a transparent, accountable and quality schooling system, he also consults for education companies and institutions. He is regularly consulted by the mainstream media, and writes and speaks on education governance. Before founding India Institute, he was the National Director of the School Choice Campaign (India).

Vvjayanthi Sankar

Vyjayanthi is the Vice President and Head of the Large Scale Assessments (LSA) division of Educational Initiatives (EI). Her stint with EI has been an exciting journey with EI evolving into a major player in the field of large scale assessments in South Asia. The LSA division of EI carries out the research and the large scale diagnostic assessment projects with partners such as Harvard University, World Bank, UNICEF, Royal Government of Bhutan, Michael Susan and Dell Foundation, Google and several state governments of India.

Subir Shukla

Subir Shukla is the Principal Coordinator for IGNUS-erg. He works on large-scale systemic change in education, developing appropriate models for vulnerable population groups, and improving the quality of governmental as well as NGO educational programmes. This involves improved curricula, textbooks, teacher training and capacity building at various levels. He also reaches out to teachers and grassroots functionaries making an effort to bring about improvement wherever they are, in whichever way they can.

Rishikesh B.S.

Rishikesh is currently Leader at the Institution for Assessment and Accreditation, Azim Premji Foundation. He is also a faculty member for the ‘History of Education’ course conducted by the Foundation. He has ten years experience as a educational researcher, the last seven of which have been spent at the Azim Premji Foundation researching the education system at large and issues related to the Government schools and teachers in particular. His research has resulted in research papers on diverse subjects such as student learning levels and teacher education institutions.

Shailendra Sharma

A Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Shailendra joined Pratham in 2002 and served in programme support unit during the initial years. Currently, he heads Pratham Delhi and is responsible for planning and execution of Pratham’s community based education programme for children in 3-14 years age group in about 300 underprivileged communities and 850 municipal schools of Delhi. He also coordinated Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) activities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir between 2005-07.

Vimala Ramachandran

Vimala is the Director of the Educational Resource Unit – a group of researchers and practitioners working on education and empowerment. She was the first National Project Director of Mahila Samakhya (1988-1993) – a Government of India programme on women’s education based in the Department of Education, MHRD. She was founder and Managing Trustee of HealthWatch – a women’s health network from 1994 to 2004. She has published extensively on education, health, gender issues and women’s empowerment.

Nalini Juneja

Nalini is presently a Professor at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration where she researches on, and teaches courses related mainly to rights of the child to education. Her research on the history of Compulsory Education laws in India helped to inform the emerging discourse on the right to education in India, and she played a role in the drafting of the RTE Act 2009, and its Model Rules. She also researches education in cities and the inclusion of 25 percent children from weaker sections of society in city schools. Her book ‘Primary education in the City of Mumbai, India: the Challenge set by local actors’ was published by UNESCO in 2001.

K. Vaijayanti

K. Vaijyanti does research at the Akshara Foundation, a not -for-profit organisation focused on elementary education in Karnataka. She has worked on a study on accessibility of High Schools in Karnataka and the Bangalore Report Card on Education. Her other interest areas are SDMCs in Karnataka, Anganwadis and learning outcomes of pre-schoolers in anganwadis, schooling in non-notified slums of Bangalore and minority education.

Madhav Chavan

Madhav is one of the founders of Pratham, an educational non-profit organization. He currently serves as the CEO and President of Pratham Education Foundation. Dr. Chavan was awarded the FIE Foundation (India) award in 1999, He served in the Prime Minister’s National Advisory Council in 2004-08. He is also a member of the Governing Council of a new initiative to rate educational institutions created by the Indian rating agency CRISIL. He was invited to be a Senior Ashoka Fellow and was recently given the Skoll Social Entrepreneurship Award.

Yuvaraj Galada

Yuvaraj has 16 years work experience spanning general management, business development and management consulting across manufacturing and services business in India and abroad – both in start-ups as well as large corporations. In his last role he was with the Government of India-initiated National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) as their Vice President. He is currently working on a venture to setup a large chain of “farm schools” around a unique technology innovation and a business model he had developed - starting with the distressed districts of Vidarbha region in Maharashtra.  He has degrees in Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and Master of Business Administration.

Neeti Sharma

Neeti is Vice President of TeamLease Service Pvt. Ltd., where she currently manages Training and Government initiatives across the country. She has been very actively been involved in various state government initiatives to increase the employability of rural and urban youth in various states. She has over twenty years experience in the domain of Customer Relationship, Operations, Technical Training, Profit Center Management and International Business Development. She holds a Masters in Economics & Statistics and a Masters in Marketing Management from Symbiosis Institute of Management.

Willima Wadhwa

Wilima is Director, Statistics at ASER Centre, New Delhi.  She has been associated with ASER since its inception in 2005 and is responsible for its sample design and the processing of ASER data.  Dr. Wadhwa earned her undergraduate degree, with Honors in Economics from Delhi University, MA degrees in Economics from Delhi University and University of California, and her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California. She has been published extensively and teaches statistics and econometrics at the University of California (Irvine) and the Indian Statistical Institute (New Delhi).  She has also been a member of various government committees, including the Working Group for the Revision of Wholesale Price Index Numbers, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. 

Ayan Biswas

Ayan currently works as a Project Officer, Communications and Advocacy for Arghyam. Previously, he worked as a research scientist at People's Science Institute (PSI), Dehradun where he trained various NGO representatives, PRI members and social action groups on water quality management. Ayan has hands-on experiences of monitoring water pollution in surface and ground water sources. Ayan is a Nuffic Fellow and has a Post-Graduate Degree in Environmental Sciences from UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands. He also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Environment Management from Indian Institute of Social Welfare & Business Management.

Yamini Aiyar

Yamini is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and the Director of Accountability Initiative. She has extensive experience working on issues related to strengthening public service delivery systems by institutionalizing accountability mechanisms through greater citizen participation. Prior to the Accountability Initiative, Yamini has worked at the World Bank and Ford Foundation in New Delhi. She has an M.Sc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and received an M.A. degree in Social and Political Sciences at St. Edmund's College, Cambridge University, UK. She also holds a BA degree in Philosophy from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.

Ashok Kamath

Ashok has been Chairman of Akshara Foundation since 2008. He has been actively involved in the strategic planning, analysis and expansion of programmes at Akshara Foundation since 2003. An alumnus of IIT, Mumbai, he was formerly the Managing Director of the Indian operation of Analog Devices. He opted to leave behind a successful career in the corporate sector and involve himself in the development sector. Ashok is also a trustee of Pratham Books.

Venu Narayan

Venu is a member of the faculty at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. He is one of the coordinators of the Mind and Society Initiative, an inter-disciplinary research group. His interests are in Education, Education Policy and Philosophy of Education. He is one of the founders of Centre For Learning, an alternative school started in 1990 by a group of educators, where he has had teaching and administrative responsibilities.

Sumandro Chattapadhyay

Sumandro is a Project Associate at the Mind and Society Initiative, Azim Premji Foundation. He leads and works with an inter-disciplinary team to process and visualise large scale data sets, towards making data more accessible as teaching, learning and decision-making tools, as well as to empirically study patterns of choices regarding well-being. He is interested in political economy and urban transformation, data visualisation and web-base mapping, and theories of space and power. He studied economics in Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan and in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Laina Emmanuel

Laina leads Accountability Initiative’s research and advocacy work on technology and accountability. In addition, she anchors AI’s communication and knowledge management initiatives. Laina has previously worked with Infosys, Netapp and Video Volunteers. At Infosys and Netapp, her work involved Operating System and File System development. A graduate from National Institute of Technology, Calicut, Laina has a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication.

Nisha Thompson

Nisha Thompson worked for the Sunlight Foundation in Washington DC before moving to Bangalore last October. She is currently working on an Open Government Data report for Centre for Internet and Society and on the Data Project for India Water Portal. She hopes that open data can be used by citizens to improve governance and keep government accountable.