ByÂ Diksha Langthasa:
Part 2 of aÂ 2 part series.
People who run a country are always expected to be educated. This article is a continuation of the last piece I wrote. Education is the key to tapping human capital formation. And with the vast population of India, it is of utmost importance to not render the potential unrealized. With the literacy rate of India reaching 78.04% as of 2011 and its education system being the third largest in the world after China and USA, there is still a long way to go for us. The education system consists of elementary education, secondary education and higher studies, which includes graduation, post graduation, doctorate, etc. Every level faces multitudes of problems.
Wide Gap in Schooling:
Whenever a national magazine comes out with a cover story on the best schools of India, there is no doubt that private schooling institutions like Doon School and DPS will appear in the list. The quality of teaching, the exposure children in these schools receive is far more superior to that of other schools; some of these also being those where many of our prominent countrymen have been schooled. Toppers also often emerge from these schools. However, one cannot even ignore the sky high fees that these schools charge. Clearly, they cater to a limited number of children. Where do the remaining children go? They are given the privilege to join the schools run by the central and state government, where fees are nominal, infrastructure is crumbling and where there is a blatant absence of quality education which comes out in the absence of high achievers from such schools. If children in such schools are given the opportunity to join private institutions, they would go grab a seat for themselves there. However, where do they get the fees from, they cannot even imagine. This startling gap highlights the failure of the government despite launching schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and spending 520.5 billion rupees on it. The government can justify their expenses on education only when a Kendriya Vidyalay produces students the same as those in DPS.
Inadequate institutions for higher studies:
It is also known through surveys that only 15% of students in India pursue studies after class 12th. However, there are also other surveys that say that only 7% of the students can join institutions for higher studies. While lakhs of students apply for admission into IITs, only 10000 actually get in; similarly, lakhs of students appear for the class 12 board exams in Delhi alone and thousands migrate to the capital for better opportunities as Delhi University offers just around 50000 seats for under graduate courses. The affluent may choose to go abroad or even join private institutes, which like private schools, charge exorbitant fees. But what option does the average scoring lower middle-class student have? Our country has a wide range of Open colleges and Distance learning schemes; however, people are wary of the value or the lack of it that is attributed to degrees awarded by them. This automatically puts them at a disadvantage in job-seeking unless one is makes exceptional effort to keep him at par with other students.
Other filial responsibilities of migrant children:
I recently spoke to a rickshaw-puller about his experiences in schooling. He had none. He was 16 years old, had 5 younger siblings and parents who hardly get any work in their village in UP. The only way to keep the family alive was for his parents and him to work, given the number of mouths to feed. He said he wouldn’t study now because he has to work and fulfill his responsibilities as the eldest child of the family. In such situations it is not feasible to drag him out of labour and put him in a school. Many boys like him exist today who will trade education for income.
It is in these situations that we see the need for wider change in society; that we realize that just passing the Right to Education law is not enough to educate people.