Special Articles / Mohana, Ilango Ponnuswami / Scientific Writing and Publishing in Social Work
“Education for all” declares that everyone has a right to education. Its aim is to give everyone a Chance to learn and benefit from basic education – not as an accident of circumstance, or as a Privilege, but as a RIGHT
This paper aims to review the Education system in India and to examine the Issues & Challenges in Education .A number of programmes have been initiated to achieve the goal of universalisation of elementary education in India. The present paper reviews the education system ,policies & programmes, literacy rate in india ,statewise literacy rate including male and female literacy level in the rural and urban india .Then the current attendance in school, Enrolment, Gender disparity dropouts, never attendance & Non Enrolment were analysed.
The paper examined the physical attainments in terms of three basic principles of educational development consistent to the objectives of educational policy and planning namely access, equity and quality with the help of selected indicators of progress to the extent of the availability of data. This paper attempts to examine the actions taken and status achieved relating to school education in India. The challenges also looked into and remedies offered. Admitting that providing resources for educating the masses is the biggest challenge, the study emphasizes the need for better access through improved quality and providing incentives for enrolment and attendance. Besides creating environment for public awareness, training and human security, the appropriate strategy for education at school level also called for sustainable Development. The paper uses a review of published statistics and extant literature on Indian Education System, History, Provision, and Regulatory Mechanism, Literacy rate, Issues & Challenges in Education.
Education, as a discipline, is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various nonformal and informal means of socialization (e.g., rural development projects and education through parent-child relationships).Education can be thought of as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society. In this sense, it is equivalent to what social scientists term socialization or enculturation. Education is designed to guide them in learning a culture, molding their behavior in the ways of adulthood, and directing them toward their eventual role in society. In the most primitive cultures, there is often little formal learning—little of what one would ordinarily call school or classes or teachers.
Instead, the entire environment and all activities are frequently viewed as school and classes, and many or all adults act as teachers. As societies grow more complex, however, the quantity of knowledge to be passed on from one generation to the next becomes more than any one person can know, and, hence, there must evolve more selective and efficient means of cultural transmission. The outcome is formal education—the school and the specialist called the teacher. Education has always been considered as the only key component of human development and greatest liberating force. Hence, traditionally, education has always held the most venerable position in our society. It is considered as fundamental to all round development of the individual both at material and spiritual levels. Education is intrinsically intertwined with the development process and constitutes the instrumentality of modernization of tradition (Raza, 1990).
The role of education in economic development has been noted by the researchers (Sodhi, 1985 & Singh, 1974). At the micro level the direct and indirect role of education through value-orientation in economic development has already been established (Bhagat, 1989). Education is also vital to sustain competitive markets and viable democracy. Researchers have shown that increasing the average primary schooling of the labour force by one year can increase output substantially. Even at the macro level, social benefits of elementary education are immense. Educated parents send their children to school; elementary education leads to perpetuation of benefits from one generation to another (Sinha, 2004, P. 628).
Need and Importance of Education
On the need for education, I wish to quote our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said that
“Education not only moulds the new generation, but reflects a society’s fundamental assumptions about itself and the individuals which compose it”.
The famous philosopher Einstein while discussing the need for education has projected the following fundamentals:
Education provides children with life skills that will enable them to prosper later in life. It equips children with the skills to maintain a healthy and productive existence, to grow into resourceful and socially active adults, and to make cultural and political contributions to their communities. Education also transmits more abstract qualities such as critical thinking skills, healthy living, resilience, and self-confidence. An educated adult population is vital for strong economic development. It also lays the foundations for greater overall economic productivity, and the full use of new technologies for development. A system of compulsory schooling helps fight child labour.
Education in India
The school education in India has a long history. The concept of the provision of elementary education to all children has its root in the beginning of Indian civilization. In the Vedic Aryan times education for children was not provided by the state but was more in the form of a religious practice. Education began with Upanayana ceremony ( hinduism.iskcon.org/practice/602.htm), the practice of taking the pupil to the teacher or guru for education.( L.N.Bhagat,1989)
During pre-independence period the British build up an elementary education system for training natives for administrative work under the empire. A tremendous progress made with the transfer of elementary education to Indian control under the Dyarchy
(1921-37) when the value-education was stressed, universal participation in education for all attempted and expenditure allocation increased.
The post independence period saw a very strong demand by the people for free and compulsory universal elementary education for national development. Free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of fourteen years is the Constitutional commitment in India (Article 45). At the time of the adoption of the Constitution in 1950, the aim was to achieve the goal of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) within the next ten years i.e. by 1960. Keeping in view the educational facilities available in the country at that time, the goal was far too ambitious to achieve within a short span of ten years. To facilitate the achievement of UEE goal, the National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT), the National Institute of Educational Planning & Administration (NIEPA) and many other institutes were set up in 1960’s as resource, research and training centers.
In order to give access to elementary education for all children up to 14 years of age and for universal participation till they complete the elementary stage of educational programs, the National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1968, the NPE in 1986, the Program of Action (POA) elaborated in the NPE of 1986 and the updated form of the NPE in 1992 gave an unqualified priority to the Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) program.
At the time of Independence in the year 1947, India inherited a system of education which was not only quantitatively small but also characterized by the persistence of large intra- and inter-regional as well as structural imbalances. Only 14 percent of population was literate, and one child out of three had been enrolled in the primary school. The need for a literate population and universal education for all in the age group of 6- 14 was recognized as a crucial input for nation building and was given due consideration in successive five year plans.
The NPE, 1968 stressed on the elimination of disparities in the educational system and on the improvement in the quality of the school. The emphasis was more on retention rather than merely on enrollment. Between 1950 to 1968, there was substantial increase in the number of primary schools, but records shows that in 1967-68 the retention rate came down to 35%. This shows that the policy statement did not get translated into a detailed strategy of implementation. As a result, problems of access, quality, quantity, utility and financial outlay, have accumulated over the years, to reach massive proportions.
The Fifth All India Educational Survey-1986 mentions that, the disparity in enrollment still persisted between the states at the primary level. To tackle these problems, the Govt. of India formulated a new education policy in 1986. In this policy, along with the universal access, enrollment and universal retention of children up to 14 years of age, a substantial improvement in the quality of education, was emphasized. This policy gave the highest priority to solving the problem of children dropping out of the school. This is evident from the emphasis given on non-formal education in the policy.
At the same time it was decided that the various parameters of implementation of New Policy must be reviewed after every five years. This would ascertain the progress of implementation of the policy and focus on the emerging trends in the area of education.
The NPE, 1986 which was modified in 1992 as a ‘Program of Action (POA) made certain modifications in the earlier policy. The POA, 1992 emphasized three aspects: universal access and enrollment; universal retention of children up to age 14 years; and a substantial improvement in the quality of education to enable all children to achieve essential levels of learning at the primary education levels.( Sangeetha Shirname (2007): “Education for All” in India: Historical development, especially in the light of gender equality and impact on the present day situation ) http://dise.in/Downloads/Use%20of%20Dise%20Data/Sangeeta% 20Shirname.pdf.
Literacy in India
India is the largest democracy with remarkable diversity among its population of 1.2 billion which makes up about 17% of the world’s population. The 15th official census in India was calculated in the year 2011. In a country like India, literacy is the main foundation for social and economic growth. When the British rule ended in India in the year 1947 the literacy rate was just 12%. Over the years, India has changed socially, economically, and globally.
After the 2011 census, literacy rate India 2011 was found to be 74.04%. Compared to the adult literacy rate here the youth literacy rate is about 9% higher. Though this seems like a very great accomplishment, it is still a matter of concern that still so many people in India cannot even read and write. The numbers of children who do not get education especially in the rural areas are still high. Though the government has made a law that every child under the age of 14 should get free education, the problem of illiteracy is still at large.
Now, if we consider female literacy rate in India, then it is lower than the male literacy rate as many parents do not allow their female children to go to schools. They get married off at a young age instead. Though child marriage has been lowered to very low levels, it still happens. Many families, especially in rural areas believe that having a male child is better than having a baby girl. So the male child gets all the benefits. Today, the female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% where the male literacy rate is over 80%. The literacy rate in India has always been a matter of concern.
Here are some facts about different states literacy rate, Kerala is the only state in India to have 100% literacy rate. It is followed by Goa, Tripura, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra, Sikkim. The lowest literacy rate in India is seen in the state of Bihar. We also need to think why is the literacy rate is low here in India compared to other developed countries. Basically the population in India is very high. Being the 7th largest country its population stands 2nd in the world after China. There are over 1 billion people in India. The number of schools and educational centers especially in rural areas is less. Even today many people are below the poverty line. Also people aren’t aware that children should get free education according to the law. ( Main article: Indian states ranking by literacy rate, Census of India 2011 & National Family Health Survey 2011.)
Issues & Challenges of Education
Current Enrolment & Attendance Status
General school education is divided into primary, middle or upper primary, secondary and Higher secondary levels. In most states these terms refer to Classes I V, VI VIII, IX X and XI XII respectively, but the number of years corresponding to primary, middle, secondary and higher secondary levels is not uniform in all the states. So class wise grouping is more appropriate for studying current enrolment/ attendance rates. Age specific current attendances in education are studied with age groups formed according to the official ages for each class group. In most of the official educational statistics, enrolment ratios are taken as important indicators which give an idea of the proportion of a population enrolled in educational institutions. Gross enrolment ratio,age specific enrolment ratio and net enrolment ratio are taken as three principal indicators.
As per administrative statistics of the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for Grade I V in India has already overshot the 100 percent mark for both girls and boys. GER for Grade I V unlike NER (Net Enrolment Ratio) tends to exceed 100% due to enrolment of children beyond the age group 6 10 years in the primary level education.
The Population Censuses and the major household surveys like National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) surveys on ‘Participation and Expenditure in Education’ or National Family Health Surveys, because of their household approach, collect information on attendance, rather than that on enrolment, in the educational institutions. Therefore, instead of enrolment ratios, the corresponding attendance ratios can be obtained. From the latest such large scale statistical exercises, e.g. Population Census 2001, NFHS 3 (2005 06) and NSSO survey on ‘Participation and Expenditure in Education’ (July 2007 June 2008) depict the changing scenario of attendance in elementary education in the new millennium. (Statistics on Literacy & School Education in the New Millennium Issues, Challenges & Suggestions , (2011) )
With the launch of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory education to the children of 6 14 years age group, a Fundamental Right, the current educational attendance status of children in this age group assumes great significance. The programme also seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.
The Population Censuses collect information on percentage of children in the age group 6 10 years (official age group for primary classes) and in the age group 11 14 years (official age group for middle level classes) who are attending schools. NHFS 3 gives age specific attendance rates, as percentage of children attending education in the age groups 6 10, 11 14, 15 17 years and NSSO gives age specific attendance rates for the age groups 6 10, 11 13, 14 17 years etc. (Report on Children in India 2012 – A Statistical Appraisal ).
In National Family Health Surveys and in National Sample Surveys the GAR for primary school (Classes I to V) is the total number of primary school students, expressed as a percentage of the official primary-school-age population (6-10 years). If there are significant numbers of overage and underage students at a given level of schooling, the GAR can exceed 100.0. But the NAR for primary school (Classes I to V) is the percentage of the primary-school-age population (6 - 10 years) who are actually attending primary school. By definition NAR cannot exceed 100.0 percent. Similarly, GAR and NAR can be obtained for the middle, secondary, and higher secondary level schooling. NFHS - 3 gives GAR and NAR for the middle, secondary, and higher secondary level school together (i.e. class - group VI - XII and age 11- 17 years) while NSSO (2007 - 08) gives the GAR and NAR separately for class - groups VI -VII, IX - X, XI - XII etc. The Gender Parity Index at any level of schooling is the ratio of the NAR (GAR) for females to the NAR(GAR) for males for the particular level of education. (Report on Children in India 2012 - A Statistical Appraisal ).
Ministry of Human Resource Development brings out its annual publication ‘Selected Educational Statistics’ based on administrative data, which gives Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for the class groups I V, VI VII, IX X, XI XII etc. The corresponding age groups taken are 6 11 years, 11 14 years, 14 16 years and 16 18 years respectively. Here also due to the presence of overage and underage students at various levels of schooling, the GER may often exceed 100.0. The Gender Parity Index at any level of education is the ratio of the GER for females to the GER for males for the particular level of schooling.
Further, as per DISE 2007 08, there has been a 13.5% increase in national NER in primary grade between 2005 06 and 2007 08: from 84.53% in 2005 06 to 95.92% in 2007 08.(Statistics on Literacy & School Education in the New Millennium Issues, Challenges & Suggestions, (2011) )
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2008 for Rural India by and large corroborates the status by DISE data. It shows that 95.7% children of the age group 6 14 years are enrolled in schools and only 4.3% are out of school in rural India. It also observes that the enrolment is highest in the age group 7 10 years for both boys and girls with 2.5% boys and 3.0% girls out of school in this age group. In the age group 11 14 years 5.5% boys and 7.2% girls are reported to be out of school with overall 6.3% out of school in this age group.(Statistics on Literacy & School Education in the New Millennium Issues, Challenges & Suggestions , (2011))
NSSO (2007 08) through its age specific attendance rates indicate that in the age group 6 10 years 12% children were out of school of whom about 9% were never enrolled while another 2% dropped out. Similarly among children aged 11 14 years 14% children were out of school of whom, 6% were never enrolled and 9% dropped out subsequently. (Statistics on Literacy & School Education in the New Millennium Issues, Challenges & Suggestions , (2011) )
Population Census 2001 did not release tabulated data on drop out or non enrolment. The National Family Health Survey (2005 06) collected and tabulated data on main reason for not attending school sought for all children age 6 17 years who were not attending school during the 2005 06 school year. It gives the percent distribution of children aged 6 17 years who have dropped out of School at some time before the 2005 06 school year by the main reason for not attending school.
NSSO survey (2007 08) (Statistics on Literacy & School Education in the New Millennium Issues, Challenges & Suggestions , (2011) )
captured very useful information on the two major critical issues plaguing our education system, viz. non enrolment and dropping out. The survey reveals that the most common reasons for school drop out among persons of age 6 17 years for dropping out of school are the following:
It also tabulates the major reasons for discontinuing studies among ever enrolled persons of Age 5 29 years as below:
A stable high Net Enrolment Ratio in elementary education will however, largely depend on sustained improvement in survival rate especially in the primary stage (i.e. proportion of pupils starting Grade I who reach the last grade of primary). DISE 2007 08 finds out the survival rate at primary level up to Grade V. During 2007 08 more than 9% of children enrolled in Grades I to V dropped out from the system before completion of primary grade and there were no major differences in drop out rate among boys and girls. The corresponding percentage during 2005 06 and 2004 05 were 9% and 10% respectively. However, specific cohort based estimates of primary completion rate, attendance rate, dropout rate, survival to grade V rate are presently not available from statistical surveys, particularly at sub national levels.
SSO survey ( 2007 08) tabulates the percentage of never enrolled children in different age gr. to find out that 9% of children between age 6 10 years and 6% of children of age 11 – 13 years.
Considering the most important reason for non enrolment for each of the never enrolled persons the three most frequently given reasons for non enrolment were
Thus, it can be seen that although education is highly subsidized in India, our education system has been characterized by a high rate o f drop outs. Again, there is a sizeable portion of population who are not entering the education system at all. For both the phenomena, it was economic reasons (e.g. financial constraints, need to join the labour force early etc.) were found to be of prime significance.
Challenges in Education
The Challenges in school education are examined in two parts. Firstly in terms of physical attainments and secondly in terms of implications through inter-relations.
Physical attainments are examined in terms of three basic principles of educational development consistent to the objectives of educational policy and planning namely access, equity and quality with the help of selected indicators of progress to the extent of the availability of data. By accepting the three principles of access, equity and quality, the education would be used as an agent of basic change in developing all individuals to be fully functioning, actively interacting with the condition, process and stimuli in environment. This would also ensure that they would grow to be happily and contented individuals and not disgruntled and disappointed and would radiate this happiness at home, in work place and society and build a healthy, congenial environment to live in and think for better future.
1. Access to Schools
Availability of school is one important factor affecting access to education and attendance. The SSA programme seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.In the NSS survey (2007 08) information was obtained from all the sample households on their distance from the nearest school providing school education at (a) primary (b) middle and (c) secondary level.
Access improvement is examined through supply side and demand side interventions presented below
Considerable improvements in the number of schools and enrolments have been observed in the last few years. Yet a large number of children are still remained out of school education. The glaring disparities in access and participation in certain sections of the population is another problem. There is tremendous need in the present context to rectify inequities through their equator addressable in the policy framework on education. The main categories of population that have generally been left out of mainstream education are (a) Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribe, (b) Girls and (c) Children with disabilities.
3. Quality of Education
The issue of quality education is appropriate not only because India is reaching the goal of universal education but also because the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) seeks to provide quality education and life skills. As of now, learning achievements, when compared with expected notional levels for primary grade students, are quite unsatisfactory as is revealed by ASER 2009. It has been seen that almost half of the students studying in Class V cannot read and comprehend a Standard II text and more than 60 % cannot do a simple division. However most of the official statistics available today does not cover much information on this aspect.
The quality of education is linked to its relevance to life of the learner. It is extremely necessary that the education provided be relevant and related to the life of the learner, rather than becoming a ritual in their own environment. There is no single factor representing quality education. However, there are certain directional indicators that characterize quality education. They are (a) improvement in provision of infrastructure and human resources for elementary education, (b) provision of improved Curriculum and teaching learning materials, (c) attention to teacher development and (d) provision of value-education and in the courses of studies. The two indicators of quality education are presented below in Table.
Table shows the percentage of teachers provided in-service training which is 37.37. It is not very satisfactory; the rural emphasis is however, reflected. The utilization of teaching learning material grant improves quality and efficiency. The percentage of schools that received and utilized Teaching Learning Material (TLM) grant, as shown in Table – 61.81 which is also not very satisfactory.
Challenges and Remedies
The goal of universalisation of elementary education has not yet been achieved. The problem of left-out and drop-out still remains to be solved. The most serious challenge is to educate these persons. The non-formal education schemes with emphasis on Vocational Training and, of course, with greater magnitude of incentives may be of some help in this direction. The local bodies and voluntary organizations may be of great help in solving this problem. Even the compulsory education legislation already in use in many countries may not be helpful in developing countries like India. In fact, it is often stated that “ these lows were introduced in most countries in response to international convention and pressure and hence they had little impact on the actual enrolment of children is schools (Colclough, 1993,p.261).”
Providing sufficient number of teachers from another challenge. Besides increasing the number of schools and teachers including Headmasters wherever required, the number of female teacher should be increased to make it at least 50 percent of the total teacher. Gradually all schools should be converted into co-education school. This will have significant impact on the overall personality development of the girl student, which is the future need for the nation. Every school teacher should be assigned with the task of counseling a group of students who will take care of their studies, attendance and overall guidance for better future. This may help in increasing the retention rate and achieving excellence in school education.
Coping with the worldwide development of science and technology is yet another challenge. In fact, we don’t have any systematic planning for mobilizing the talent from the Schools for use of national interest. We have scientist but are sciencetist by chance and not by choice. What is needed is to identify a group of talented students taken proportionately from rural and urban areas and educate them centrally through MHRD under fully subsidized residential programme for preparing them for higher education and research in the field of science and technology according to their intrinsic aptitude and interest. This will help in attaining the goal of better future and sustainable developments.
Various educational policies and programmes implemented after post-independence period have resulted in improved access of elementary education. The efforts to attain equity and quality is also praise worthy. But universalisation of education at the elementary level has not yet been achieved. The study emphasizes the need for providing more emphasis on demand-side interventions for better access. Besides creating environment for public awareness, training and human security, the appropriate strategy for the education and at the school level also called for, for sustainable development.
Education is a Fundamental Right of every citizen of our country. But unfortunately, despite several commissions appointed to improve the state of education in our country since independence, not much headway has been made towards making it relevant to the needs of the time. Parrot learning and reproducing half-baked ideas in the examination halls has been the yardstick of assessing the quality of school goers in all levels whether it is Primary, Secondary or College Education.
Although education has a significant influence on life, the average education is not the same in different areas. There are still some places where the inhabitants are almost completely uneducated, causing a serious lack of knowledge. There are various factors that need attention like the student dropout ratio, the student teacher ratio, student – teacher relationship, availability of resources , low enrolment rates at the primary level, wide disparities between regions and gender, lack of trained teachers, deficiency of proper teaching materials and poor physical infrastructure of schools etc…. that indicate the poor performance of this sector.
Providing free and quality education to children reflects the fact that every child is entitled to fundamental human rights and is to be treated with dignity. Where children are exposed to poverty, violence, abuse, or exploitation, those rights demand our urgent protection. Education supports children at a critical time in their physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth. More broadly, education is a key tool for development, and an invaluable means of addressing structural inequality and disadvantage.
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