1) What does Gyan Shala mean?
In Indian languages, Gyan stands for both knowledge and wisdom. Shala means school. Gyan Shala thus stands for a school for knowledge/wisdom.
2) What does the Logo Of Gyan Shala signify ?
In India, the lotus flower is regarded as the seat of the goddess of learning `Saraswati’. Gyan Shala logo is a stylized depiction of a yet-blossoming lotus flower.
3) How is Gyan Shala's emphasis on quality education compatible with its policy of teacher with only grade X-XII education ?
The qualifying education for the entrants of teacher training for school teachers in India, and in most countries, indeed is high-school, i.e. grade X-XII. Most people who teach in higher school classes of grade XI or XII are typically postgraduates, having 16-17 years of formal education. In fact, a large majority of teachers in colleges too, teaching the undergraduate classes, have only 16-17 years of formal, postgraduate, education. An additional formal education of 2-5 years is, thus, considered well enough for teaching in higher school classes or in colleges. We, therefore, see no reason why a Gyan Shala teacher, with 7-9 years of additional formal education compared to children, should be considered inadequately educated to handle primary classes.
The real difference in Gyan Shala design from traditional teacher eligibility lies not in the school/ college education but of college-based teacher education degree/ training. In Gyan Shala, this is replaced by extensive and concurrent teacher training and support, which includes 10-15 day training in bi-annual vacations, monthly one-day refreshers, and weekly demonstration/ supervision visits by senior-teacher/supervisors. Gyan Shala spends around 20 percent of teacher salary on their training.
Further, Gyan Shala is so organized that many of the tasks that are typically performed by the teachers in the western primary system, like choosing learning material, designing classroom task and messages, and drawing up of teaching schedule are assumed by much better qualified and trained supervisory and support staff.
4) How can Gyan Shala hope to generate good quality while keeping the cost low ?
We keep the cost competitively low mainly by keeping the share of teacher cost only at around 35% of the total cost while in other competitive alternatives; the teacher cost is in excess of 85%. The unit cost of a teacher in Gyan Shala is around 20% of the salary paid in the main competitive alternative. Last, Gyan Shala is carefully designed to obtain more effective performance from any functionary, including teachers.

We pay market-based remuneration. As it happens, in most parts of, good people are available for work even at a quarter of the salary prevalent in organized industry or public sector. The situation is not much different from the case of a good quality software professional in India providing competitive performance even at 20% salary of his/her counterpart in western countries.

5) Would not the low salary eventually lead to poor performance?
Please note, we do not pay low salary compared to relevant market norms, and we have systems to obtain good performance from people who are paid competitive salaries.

6) What mechanisms does Gyan Shala have to obtain good performance from various functionaries?
In Gyan Shala, the subject experts, the designers, have to work in close proximity of class events. The integration between the designers and implementers keeps the focus of our system on quality.
It is designed to generate records of all events, so its quality could be assessed anytime. It has instituted a carefully balanced system of supervision and peer review to both identify errors and initiate corrective action with a least possible delay. It holds itself accountable for concrete measurable learning gains, besides the intangible aspects of education.
Gyan Shala has tried to foster a culture of excellence in all its tasks and methods of working. A sophisticated and responsive administrative support, high-quality infrastructure and good accounting system are regarded as important as high-quality teacher training and learning material.
The management strives to align the expectations of all functionaries to the constraints and imperatives of a high quality but a modest/low-cost system.
Gyan Shala pedagogy, learning material, class-learning schedule, teacher training, and support are designed to together produce good quality education on a sustained basis. (For details, please see the details of program design and curriculum material.
Lastly, Gyan Shala actively strives to generate competitive performance and results.
7) How does Gyan Shala ensure that it works only for poor ?
Gyan Shala classes are physically located only in urban slums and interior villages. It is true that there are differentials of income levels within a village or slum, and Gyan Shala does not discriminate in the enrollment of children on any other basis.
Gyan Shala is registered as a non-profit. Its capacity to raise resources, and thus survive, depends upon serving the disadvantaged section of society and its impact.
8) Why Gyan Shala focuses only up to secondary education ?
This decision is governed by our strategic perspective.
First, we believe that all developing countries, including India, are essentially resource-poor and it is obligatory on any institution to generate best possible vale of money that it spends. Gyan Shala is designed on the premise that the best way to improve return on education spending is to strengthen the foundation. Gyan Shala, therefore, spends all the resources that it can mobilize on strengthening the foundation years. This does not mean that others need not provide for additional education needs, including higher secondary education and beyond.

Second, and equally important, Gyan Shala is committed to the goal of universal life-long literacy and numeracy. Due to prevailing socio-economic conditions, many children will necessarily drop out of schools after the initial few years. Gyan Shala has chosen to adopt a 3-year model as it hopes that within this period, the children can be taken to a level of language and arithmetic understanding and use that would sustain for life. If it becomes necessary to spend more, say 4 or 5, years to reach this level then Gyan Shala would consider extending the length of its module. Further, it is possible that some children would spend more than 3 years in completing three grades in Gyan Shala classes.

9) What is Gyan Shala’s stance on preschool education ?
We believe that this is not functionally needed in the sense that a child who has never been to any school can still be brought on par with others within the first three years of primary. If society has resources, there is no harm in supporting preschool education, but in case of resource paucity,
We believe that a better use of education spending would be to improve primary rather than extend pre-school.
We also believe in early years, a child’s education comes out of social interaction. In most cases, it would be very difficult for a pre-school to organize a higher level and varied adult-child interaction inside the school-class setting compared to what is available to a child in any typical slum or village community. For example, we believe that adults in any neighborhood would expose a child to richer and varied language exposure than what a preschool teacher is likely to provide for a group of 30 children.
10) What would most Gyan Shala children do at the end of its three-year module ?
We hope that most children would either continue studying in our Middle school program (grades 4-7) or join a mainstream government / recognized private school in the 4th grade. The admission to this class will be arranged on the basis of a Right to Education (RTE).
It is likely that due to socio-economic conditions, some children would not go beyond the years in the schools. Gyan Shala, however, would bring each child to a level of attainment that the child retains the numeracy and math skills throughout life, even after dropping out of school system at the end of the primary stage.
11) How would Gyan Shala concept sustain itself financially ?
Gyan Shala aims at generating a quality margin of at least 100% over the existing public primary system while providing the lower primary education at around or less than one-third of current government spending per child. Gyan Shala is designed to continuously update itself and thus remain quality and cost-effectiveness leader while ensuring that its solution would work at mass scale.
Gyan Shala plans to depend upon private donations, individuals, corporations, and foundations, during the development – demonstration phase of any program. At the end of this, Gyan Shala would have its complete model working and stabilized to serve around 15000 children. It then plans to have a tripartite agreement involving the multilateral or bilateral aid agencies, Gyan Shala project, and a city/state government to start many units on Gyan Shala pattern, each serving around 15000 children. Prior to that Gyan Shala project collaborates with policy advocacy efforts to seek changes in government policy and transformation of the primary system so it becomes acceptable for the government to give out the contract to competitive bids to provide assured/ measurable quality basic education to clearly identified geographical clusters of children in urban slums or rural areas.