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Introducing Reimagining Education for Equity – Interrogating Policy and Practice

What role does education play in achieving sustainable development goals? How can education drive transformative changes leading to environmentally and socially just societies? How can key stakeholders be involved in creating inclusive, equitable, and empowering learning environments that prepare individuals and communities for a rapidly changing world?

The course Reimagining Education for Equity – Interrogating Policy and Practice addresses these questions by first examining and problematising the role education has played in sustaining social inequalities; and then deliberating on how education can be transformed to create empowered teachers and students towards attaining an equitable, just, and sustainable future. 

This course derives from the results of a four-year four-country research programme on ‘Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures’ or TESF. It is led by Professor Poonam Batra, a TESF co-investigator and one of India’s leading academics with four decades of interdisciplinary experience across elementary, teacher and higher education practice and policy in India.

The MOOC contains 5 modules, with each module requiring 4–6 hours of learning and reading time.

It is designed to make TESF research and examples of transformational education accessible to practising teachers, student-teachers, the wider teacher education and policy community, and other stakeholders with an interest in education.

Objectives of the course
By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the continued impact of the colonial legacy of education on contemporary Indian education system and practice.
  2. Critically reflect on India’s education policy trajectories and examine their impact on school and teacher education. 
  3. Critically examine prevailing ideas and practices that dominate curricular and pedagogic approaches and which sustain gender, economic and social asymmetry.
  4. Develop capacities that enable deeper understanding of complex interconnections between education, communities, social and political contexts that influence inclusion/exclusion of children in learning spaces.
  5. Develop professional repertoires that enable the integration of lived experiences and identities of students in the teaching-learning process.
  6. Recognise the importance of and understand processes that encourage children’s voice and agency in schools, along with developing teacher’s autonomy to bring about transformative change in and through education.
  7. Discuss ideas and thoughts rooted in southern sources of knowledge and develop perspectives of transformative education towards equitable, just and sustainable futures.

Introduction to the Course | Amir Bazaz

Reimagining Education for Equity: A Trailer | Poonam Batra

Education, Margins, and the City

Background Papers and Knowledge Resources​

As part of the project, a series of background papers are prepared with evidence-based analysis and arguments to identify gaps in knowledge (s) that help formulate significant questions for TESF research in India.

India Briefing Note: Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures

The briefing note provides an overview and introduces the interface of education and sustainable development in India. The note raises key research questions that need to be addressed in order to examine education for sustainable development, education for sustainable cities and communities, and education for climate action.

Knowledge Co-Creation in Action: Learning from the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures Network: A Methodological Sourcebook

Suggested Citation:
TESF Collective. 2023. Knowledge Co-creation in Action: Learning from the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures Network. A methodological sourcebook. Bristol, TESF.


Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures: India Hub Synthesis Report

Suggested Citation:
Batra, P., Bazaz, A., Dixit, S., & Sadh, S. (2023). Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures: India Hub Synthesis Report. New Delhi, TESF India-IIHS


India Background paper

The country paper highlights some of the key concerns across the sectors of school, higher and teacher education. The paper examines the contours of and potential for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that includes addressing questions of environmental, social, economic and epistemic justice in school and higher education contexts; exploring linkages between ESD and climate change education, education on sustainable cities and communities and identifying novel methods of wider public engagement and social education.

बैकग्राउंड पेपर: भारत

 The country background paper- Hindi Translation

The Case for Transformative Public Education: Responding to COVID-19 now while addressing long-term underlying inequalities

The briefing paper clarifies the meaning of transformative public education and how it responded  to the COVID-19 pandemic. It explores why transformative public education matters in addressing long term underlying risks to the communities. In addition, it also provides suggestions for governments, state welfare actors and community leaders  who seek to work with transformative public education.

Building a reciprocal relationship between education and SDG 11: a prerequisite for urban transformation and sustainability: A TESF Background Paper

The paper discusses why the building of a reciprocal relationship between education and SDG 11 is crucial and is a prerequisite for urban transformation and sustainability. It elaborates how education for all the SDGs must have an increasing urban sensitivity and be able to address the specialist needs of SDG 11. Since SDG11- sustainable cities and communities is an area that is not supported by formal and informal education curricula, urban education for sustainable development needs complex skills development that can be achieved through pedagogical innovations and different urban higher educational initiatives. 

Co-Creating Education for Sustainable Futures: TESF Methodology Background Paper

The paper aims to explain the overall methodological approach and key concepts that inform the researchers within the TESF project. It clarifies the approach of ‘knowledge-co-creation’ that underpins this project and the forms it takes in the design and implementation of research projects in the area of education for sustainable futures.

Climate Change and Education

The paper is a short summary of some of the current debates and state of the research in relation to climate change and education. Its primary purpose is to support the research teams in our network, seeking to develop new community-led research agendas.  It will also provide a useful  starting point for others coming new to the field and seeking to develop research and action projects.

Addressing Inequalities TESF Background paper

The aim of this background paper is to examine inequality in the context of cross-cutting SDGs of poverty (SGD 1), gender (SDG 5), social inequalities (SDG 10), indigenous knowledges (SDG 16) and environmental injustice (SDG 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15). With SDG 4 (Quality Education) being central to TESF objectives, the paper aims to anchor all inequalities around the question of ‘educational inequality’ as this is both a consequence of various other inequalities and one that exacerbates other inequalities. 

Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures: Foundations paper

This background paper aims to develop an initial understanding based on a critical engagement with the existing literature of how key terms that are used to frame the work of the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) Network Plus are understood.

Mobilising Capacities for Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures

This background paper introduces plans for collaboration, learning, and action within the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF) research network. 

Re-imagining Curriculum in India: Charting a Path beyond the Pandemic – Poonam Batra


The Covid-19 pandemic has made visible the sharp economic, health, caste-based, gender, and educational inequalities that the disadvantaged face in India. Curriculum is ordinarily viewed as a tool for regulating and adapting modern educational systems to society’s needs and trends. But most governments have been unwilling to rethink post-pandemic education, despite the loss of livelihoods, food, and shelter – accentuated by educational inequality and institutionalised via neoliberal reforms. The current pandemic compels us to examine the meanings and purposes of education from a socio-historical perspective, to understand how questions of equity and justice, rooted in India’s Constitution, can be woven into curricula and pedagogic approaches. This article reflects on the role that curriculum can play in enabling an ecologically and socially just and connected world. This curricular response includes cognising the significance of subaltern disciplines and imagining transformative pedagogies that can help reclaim education spaces and sustain epistemic justice.

Webinar – Re-imagining Curriculum in India: Charting a Path beyond the Pandemic

Based on the paper a webinar was organised by the School of Education, University of Bristol.


TESF | Interrogating Education | Intervening to Transform Education Towards Sustainable Futures

The TESF India team recently presented country-level synthesis at the TESF Network Synthesis workshop held at Kigali, Rwanda from 6 -10 March, 2023. A short TESF India Film focusing on issues pertaining to education and its practice; challenges of the urban and cities; issues of climate change and the role of education; how these relate to gender, social and economic inequality; and how the various TESF India research projects problematize and respond to these issues was screened at the Kigali workshop. The film presents select narratives from the TESF India research community, foregrounds intersectional vulnerabilities in rural, semi-rural and urban contexts and offers glimpses of how education can be transformed for sustainable futures. 

Virtual Inception Workshop – Day 1

Education in India and the Challenge of Sustainable Development | Poonam Batra

Introduction to the TESF project | Leon Tikly

The SDGs and India’s Development | Aromar Revi

Need for progressive universalisms to address durable inequalities | N. V. Varghese

Importance of interdisciplinarity to address the theory practice divide | Darshini Mahadevia

Legitimising and strengthening indigenous knowledge | Madhulika Banerjee

Problematising the regulatory framework for higher education | Prasad Shetty

Virtual Inception Workshop – Day 2

Transforming educational systems for social and environmental justice | Poonam Batra

Education for Sustainable Urbanisation | Aromar Revi

Education for Climate Action | Amir Bazaz

Inclusivity in the Indian education system | Sumit Bose

Strengthening the ‘public’ in India’s education system | Geetha Nambissan

Working with indigenous and marginalized communities in Southern India | Pratim Roy

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Education, Livelihoods and Health

The strict and sudden lockdown imposed by the Government of India in the third week of March 2020 to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, made visible the inadequacy and fragility of the Indian education system and urban social protection systems. Schools and higher education institutions across the country were closed and all economic activity in cities and towns came to a grinding halt. As a result, students across the span of education and millions of workers engaged in informal work in Indian cities were severely impacted.

This research set out to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown on the education, livelihoods, and health of the most marginalized sections of Indian society. Three major sites were chosen for this investigation: In Delhi, we examined the impact of school closure; in Bengaluru, we assessed the impact of the closure of higher education institutions; and in Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) we examined how the loss of income impacted the lives of informal workers. This investigation also provided insight into the physical and mental health condition of the studied demographic and the various state and non-state relief measures that were offered in response to the health crisis. Individual interviews were conducted online and offline with different stakeholders; online panel discussions were held with various organisations providing relief; and secondary data was collated from various reports, case studies and government documents.

Sumit Bose
Former Finance Secretary, GOI

Sumit Bose was the Union Finance Secretary and Revenue Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India till his retirement from the Indian Administrative Service in March, 2014. In the Ministry of Finance he was also Secretary in the Departments of Expenditure and Disinvestment.
As Joint Secretary in the Department of Elementary Education, he was responsible for the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. He was also Secretary, School Education in Madhya Pradesh.

Currently he serves as an Independent Director on the boards of several companies and on the boards of various non-profits such as Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Jal Seva Charitable Foundation (WaterAid India), Parivaar Education Society (Kolkata) and Samaj Pragati Sahayog (Bagli, Dewas).

Nargis Panchapakesan
Former Head and Dean, Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi

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K. Subramaniam
Former Director, HBCSE, TIFR, Mumbai

Professor K. (Ravi) Subramaniam holds a PhD in Philosophy from IIT, Mumbai. He served as Director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, Mumbai from July 2016 to June 2021.

Professor Subramaniam has worked extensively in the area of mathematics education. He has taught various courses in mathematics education for doctoral students including: Introduction to Mathematics Education Research, Theoretical Perspectives on School Mathematics, Representations and Reasoning, and Philosophy of Education. He was a key contributor to course development of the M.A. Elementary Education programme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and has taught the Pedagogy of Mathematics; Child development and Cognition courses in the programme.   He has mentored and supervised doctoral students across a range of topics including, learning of mathematics, teacher development and mathematics teaching, and science, technology and sustainability.

Professor Subramaniam has a range of publications to his credit in international and national peer reviewed journals. He has authored books for students and teachers, developed manuals and resources for teachers and published various research reports. Professor Subramaniam has made mathematics an enjoyable subject through his books titled - Maths for every child. Some of his key and co-authored publications include: Teachers’ construction of meanings of signed quantities and integer operation, (Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 2017) and Mathematics teacher training manual class I and class II. New Delhi: NCERT, (2010).

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan
Former Chairperson ZHCES, SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Professor Geetha B. Nambissan is a sociologist of education. She was formerly with the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research has focused on exclusion, inclusion, and social justice in education with particular reference to the schooling of marginalized sections of Indian society: Dalits, Adivasis, and the poor. She has published widely in these areas. Her current research interests include the privatization of schooling and urban transformations and education. She is the editor of the ‘India' section, in the Second International Handbook on Urban Education (Springer, 2017). Her recent publications include ‘Caste and the Politics of the Early “Public” in Schooling: Dalit Struggle for an Equitable Education’ (Contemporary Education Dialogue, July 2020) and Education and the Changing Urban in Delhi: Privilege and Exclusion in a Megacity (, 2021). She has been President of the Comparative Education Society of India.

Anshu Vaish
Former Secretary, Education, MHRD

Ms. Anshu Vaish, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the batch of 1975, Madhya Pradesh Cadre, superannuated as Secretary, School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Prior to that, she has worked extensively in the social sector, including culture and school education, serving in the Departments of Women and Child Development, Health, Social Justice and Empowerment. She has also headed the Archaeological Survey of India as its Director General.

Ms. Anshu Vaish has been involved in various assignments over the years. She chaired the Task Force on Restructuring of the National Council for Teacher Education and was a member of NUEPA’s group to draft a Model Education Code for schools. She has served as Chairperson of Rangasri Little Ballet Troupe Trust, Chairperson of PRADAN, Member of the Governing Body of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhopal, and Independent Director on the Board of Steel Authority of India.

Currently, Ms. Vaish serves as Chairperson of Rainbow Foundation of India and Member on the General Body of Centre for Equity Studies. She is also a Member on the governing bodies of KATHA, Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute, and Aga Khan Foundation India.