Education is the key to sponsor the dream of a ‘demographic dividend’ in India. In India, the average age is between 25-30 years as compared to countries such as the USA, China, Japan which are above 30 years and it is prudent that we not only create jobs but also equip the youth with properly synthesized education that would help them in their competitions for a job ahead.
Education has three facets; the one providing it, i.e. the teacher, the one receiving it, i.e. the students, and the one paying for it, i.e. the parents. We have seen a boisterously negative fallout in all the above three facets. To amend the colonial structures of education and make it equivalent to contemporary time, a scheme was imparted called Right to Education (RTE).
It got the consent of the president on 26/08/2009 and came into force with effect from 1/04/2010. Girls in India were more educated than ever, but the gap in mean years of schooling worsened. The mean year of schooling for girls tripled from 1.7% in 1990 to 4.7% in 2018.
The gender gap between male and female attainment increased from 2.5 years to 3.5 years. The National Achievement Survey 2017 covering 22 lakh students shows parity in learning levels between boys and girls in elementary and secondary school. The dropout rate is higher in class 1 for boys, i.e. 6.88% for boys than girls, i.e. 6.38%, but this trend reverses by class 8th.
With our independence, the percentage of educated people was below 10%, including boys and girls. It took almost six decades to sharpen our focus on education and improving the literacy rate in India. The RTE in 2019 completed a decennial with a renewed focus on higher education and skill development. It was further enforced under Article 21A as it is a fundamental right. The few advantages of this policy were:
Further, according to statistics, more than 3.3 million students secured admission under 25% reservation. The government also launched an integrated scheme for school education named Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which clusters the following three schemes: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and a centrally sponsored scheme on teachers education. But it had a lot many drawbacks and disadvantages which needed proper attention like:
We need a proper inclusion of all the youth in education so that our dream of a demographic dividend doesn’t fall out to be a demographic disaster. The NEP is a step in that direction, but the ever-evolving process needs ever-evolving emphasis and proper implementation of the existing laws.