When it comes to the education system of our country, we all know that there is not much to boast about. Our government schools lack quality education while our private schools are even termed as the shiksha (education) mafia. We need to understand what sabotage the governments has been trying to overcome for years and yet, they are stuck in one place.
The problems lie in our education policies itself. The new education policy is being implemented in the country after a long wait of 33 years. It is expected that the policies of this time will be able to repair the education infrastructure, which may improve the crippled situation of primary and higher education in our country.
The draft of the new education policy has been submitted to Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and will soon be shaped and implemented. It’s time to think whether these policies will provide any oxygen to the country’s dying education system? Were the objectives in the previous education policies fulfilled?
Let us see how far we have come in the efforts of improving education, and how much further we have to go.
1) We have progressed since 1968 in terms of making education accessible to every child in the country. The objective of making primary education accessible to all was bolstered by the Right to Education (RTE) and now the latest reports from Annual States of Education (ASER-2014) and UDISE state that 96.7% of children in the country are enrolled in schools. This is the biggest achievement of the 1968 education policy so far.
2) The share of public investment in education has increased over the years. However, it is still less than 6% of the GDP.
In the last five years itself, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has increased the budget from ₹31,906 crore to ₹54,735 crore. The government spends an average of ₹11,225 a year on the education of a student.
Since 2014, the government has started levying a 2% cess on the Elementary Education Fund. However, it has been observed that a large part of the elementary education fund is saved from spending every year and the amount of money deposited in the fund increases, but this reflects the government’s readiness for the Education To All policy.
3) In the policies of 1968 and 1986, the emphasis was on improving the infrastructure of schools and it has been largely successful. While the number of primary schools was 8,45,007 in 2001, the number has now increased to 14,48,712 in 2014.
98% of the rural areas have reached the goal of having a school within one kilometre from the village. 18% of the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) budget is being spent on school infrastructure and about 65% of the schools in the country follow the RTE guidelines and this number is increasing every year.
1) According to the 2014 MHRD report, 3.2% children are out of school and 50% out of these, who were enrolled in school at some point of time, dropped schooling before completing Class 8.
The problem is the transitioning of children from primary schools to secondary schools after Class 5. The figures for girls, and students from minorities are the worst.
The Out Of School Survey report released by MHRD states that only 12% of the children admitted to schools at the elementary level have access to higher education. This gap between elementary education (96.7%) and secondary education (12%) is huge.
2) According to ASER 2014 and NAS 2014 report, about 45% children studying in Class 5 in government schools across the country cannot write, read or do simple calculations in mathematics.
In 2009, the states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of OECD, an international level assessment program identifying the quality of education in children.
Surprisingly, in its result, the rank of Indian states was 72 and 73 among 74 countries of the world. That is, the second and third from below.Quality education is not defined in any of our education policies, despite quality being crucial to education.
3) What the role of private schools in the education system of the country is, remains undecided. There is always a locked-horn situation between private and government schools in the country. Government schools provide free education, mid-day meal, free school dress and books and numerous other benefits, while the private schools charge hefty fee for the same, yet, the parents’ interest have shifted towards private schools, for the sake of better education.
According to the ASER 2014 report, between 2010 and 2014, enrollment of children in government schools decreased by 6.2% while that of private schools increased by 6.5%. The role of private schools along with the government schools for the betterment of education, needs attention.
We can only hope that the New Education Policy will refuel the engines of education. It should not happen so that several future generations succumb to the poor education system of the country.