The Constitution of India says,
“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”https://www.magnettz.com/go-for-best-basic-products/
under the Right to Education (Article 21A)
So, Education is essential for realizing one’s greatest potential, and no doubt, it is a Fundamental Right.
The current system of education:
Every State in our great Country has its own environment of providing Education. Whether it be on when to start, what to teach, how to teach, how to evaluate, and so on. We have stand-alone systems for each of these methods. And there is an NCERT system too, which is run by the Centre. Quite a few more Boards too. So, we have multiple learning environments for the students. Needless to say, the kind of knowledge imparted and the way they are imparted to the students are completely different. Ultimately, the way the students’ knowledge is examined is also dissimilar. Are we providing the initial education to the children at the right age? Also, most importantly the affordability of the Parents plays a major role in, children getting the “Tier” of education.
The necessity to change:
What happens when such Verticals move upstream? Say to the Higher Education, i.e., when the student needs to write an Entrance exam for Engineering, Medicine, and so on, either within the State or to get educated in a different State. The Evaluation Standards are different, right? What percentage of the seats goes the students passed out from a Central Board education system vis-à-vis the students from the State Board. One can comfortably say that the CBSE passed-outs will have a better seat-share. Is it the problem of the State Board students to be deprived of better opportunities? Where is the gap? Who is accountable? We can keep on asking questions, pass on the buck.
The Literacy levels disparity:
India’s literacy rate is at 75%. Kerala stands tall with a literacy rate of 93%. And on the other extreme, Bihar is the least literate state in the country, with a score of 64%. Six states account for 60% to the bottom of the literacy table. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh (which includes Telangana as well).
Near about 50% of the bottom of the table, contributors are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh.
A couple of factors that contribute to this low level of literacy are,
- the usefulness of education and
- the availability of institutions in rural areas. The other contributor could be the shortage of classrooms to accommodate the students. & no proper sanitation in most schools. The study at approx. 200 Govt-run primary schools in some parts of the country indicated that 59% of the schools had no drinking water facility and 89% no toilets.
The average student-teacher ratio at the country level is 42:1, which portrays a glaring fact of teachers’ shortage. Such gaps impacted the uniformity in a school system where literacy rates may differ. Another important, rather a key is the expenditure allocated to education was never above 4.3% of the GDP from 1951 to 2002. This is in spite of the target of 6% by the Kothari Commission. The NSSO and the National Family Health Survey had carried out a survey on children completing primary school and the numbers are only 36.8% and 37.7% respectively.
On 21 February 2005, the Prime Minister of India said that he was pained to note that “only 47 out of 100 children enrolled in class I reach class VIII, putting the dropout rate at 52.78 percent.”
One more critical reason for the lower literacy rate is the bigger proportion of illiterate females. Gender-based inequality in education las also resulted in female literacy rates pegging lower at 65.46% than that of their male students which is at 82.14%. Typically, basis the gender roles, sons are thought to be more useful (dependable) and hence are educated. Females are grounded, to help out on farming activities & at home. This is for the simple reason that such chores do not require any formal education. Hardly less than 2% of the girls carry out the agriculture work, attended school.
A recent survey by National Statistical Office (NSO) has revealed that around 13% of students drop out of school,
- 20% discontinued education at the secondary level, and
- 18% dropped out at the upper primary level.
The topmost causes of discontinuation are:
- Help in domestic work,
- Economic condition, and
- Lack of interest.
About 30% of the girls gave domestic work as the reason for discontinuing education and about 37% of boys left their studies because they had to support their families.
It also becomes obviously difficult for girls to continue studying because of their safety. Basic hygiene/sanitation problems due to poor school facilities are also one specific reason for the girl children to stay at home. Considered to be a liability, many girls are imposed to stay back at home, or are forced to get married at an early age (13%).
More than 30% of children voiced in the survey have clearly shown a lack of interest in studies, they preferred to drop out because whatever was being taught in schools barely interested them.
What to do?
To overcome the disparities due to various reasons & engage the students at all levels on their right to learn, we need to have a uniform system, viz.,
- the uniform learning environment,
- uniform teaching models,
- uniformity on the teacher’s competency,
- uniform assessment programs, and so on.
And this needs to start from the root, the fundamentals.
How can we do? Integrate…
The existing various stand-alone models need to be reinforced, by way of having a single-structured learning model. Needless to say, all the States need to abide by the Centre’s drive on implementing the National Education Policy.
As rightly stated by our Prime Minister, The National Education Policy 2020 is a way to fulfill the new aspirations and new hopes of our new India. It needs to be implemented seamlessly across the country and we need to do it together.
The NEP 2020 has arrived at two initiatives that could help in boosting the student turnout by way of
- providing efficient and sufficient infrastructure to all students and
- to set up alternative and innovative education centers for the children of migrant laborers.
These are key actions to ensure that children have access to safe and engaging school education as well as bring back the ones out of school. A “dropout early warning system” needs to be put in schools to identify students who are potential drop-outs and to focus on bottom-of-the-table students, who struggle to perform.
Schools should obviously work on various ways of teaching methodologies to bring up children & inspire to trigger the learning interest in them. Innovatively, digital learning opportunities needs to be unleashed to provide education sitting at homes, students can access free educational content through smartphone applications or YouTube offered by different institutions.
Education enables a person to achieve a better job or means of self-employment, and importantly, to eradicate poverty. It definitely builds cultural values and beliefs in the child. Once the awareness to send students regularly to the school continues, slow but positive results will follow.
Let us not forget the factor that, the country will have the highest population of young people in the coming decade and this is the right time to go for the change in full steam.
ECCE is a key element in a child’s educational journey. Early education, no doubt, helps in bringing up a child in a very positive way in the areas of, valuing people, respect, self-confidence, effective communication, social awareness, gender equality, to name a few.
- National Education Policy 2020, by the Ministry of HRD, Govt of India.
- National Early Childhood Care and Education Curriculum Framework, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Author of this Article:- Mr.Lakshman