On May 6, 2013 the Central Square Foundation and the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education co-hosted a private event to discuss education reform in India. Even with significant progress in access to education and in education reform, the existing education framework does not deliver high quality education for most children, particularly girls and marginalized youth. With a lack of school and teacher accountability to meet local and national standards, as well as weak school system infrastructure, much progress is still needed to improve the state of learning for children in India.
The event on education reform engaged practitioners and thought leaders, both from the United States and India, in a conversation on issues influencing education development in the Indian context. Xanthe Ackerman, associate director for the Center for Universal Education, moderated the event. Ashish Dhawan of Central Square Foundation presented an overview of education in India. Chester Finn, president of the Fordham Institute, discussed school choice and performance in the United States context. Urvashi Sahni, CEO of the Study Hall Foundation, shared her experiences as a social entrepreneur who has worked to provide educational opportunities for marginalized girls and to bring innovations to scale in partnership with the government.
The private event discussion shed light on several important issues, including the importance of building the accountability of the central government education systems, given the need for strong governance and management to complement efforts to scale programming. The group discussed the importance of standards for learning and assessment so that public and private stakeholders can measure the impact of policies and programs on learning outcomes. The parallel challenge to promote learning and equity was highlighted, as well as the potential for innovative approaches to providing quality education both to reach underserved populations and to create more demand for education among those who are out of school. Community engagement and parental engagement were identified as critical factors in improving children’s learning outcomes, despite the difficulty of getting good information to parents to inform decisions based on learning outcomes.
This event was followed by a public event on improving education and learning outcomes in India.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.