1. Considering India has the second largest population in the world, it isn’t surprising to find that India has the world’s second-largest school system , after China. However, there is still a gap in participation rates despite the millions of enrolled students. These gaps are particularly evident among populations of lower castes, minorities, and rural regions. Education in India is on its way toward improving due to major increases in government funding in rural areas.
2. Free and compulsory education in India is provided to children between the ages of 6 and 14. In August 2009, the Indian Parliament passed the landmark Right to Education Act that made education in India free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14. There have been tremendous increases and advances in access to education and because of this act. For example, literacy rates in India have increased in recent years. The student population in the school system grew by 5 percent between the years 2010 and 2015.
3. India’s improved education system is one of the main contributors to it’s growing economy. Over the past several years, India increased spending on education by 80 percent between 2011 and 2015, increased literacy rates to nearly 74 percent as of 2011, increased English-language speaking in classrooms giving more access to foreign studies and careers and has significantly increased primary education than ever before. This has to lead to a surge in youth working in some of the best technology-centered jobs in the world. Subsequently, India has seen an increase in GDP.
4. One in 40 primary schools in India is conducted in tents or open spaces with unqualified teachers. Insufficient funds are allocated to rural regions and primary schools depriving children in rural areas of primary schooling in buildings. Often children are taught in tents or open spaces with little to no common resources, such as pencils, pens, paper, chalkboard, etc. Further, UNICEF and other global organizations have observed that one major problem with education in India is unqualified teachers. For example, according to WENR (World Education News + Reviews), the qualification requirements for teachers are low.
5. A disproportionate number of total out-of-school children in India are girls. In the rural areas of India, is not uncommon to find that child labor is a primary reason children are not in school. This is because of the need of children in the farms and family work to provide a living for families below the poverty line. Most of these children are girls. In certain regions, there is still resistance to sending girls to school. Even with the Right to Education Act making school compulsory for children 6-14, more girls than boys are forced to drop-out by their parents to help out at home. However, progress has been made in keeping girls in school. The Right to Education Act doubled the number of girls toilets in schools by 2016 and increase the number of walled school grounds removing a significant safety concern for girls school attendance. Since the Right to Education Act passed, the percentage of out-of-school girls 11-14 decreased from 10.3 percent in 2006 to 4.1 percent in 2018.
6. Preschool education in India is not mandatory and fairly uncommon. The Right to Education act emphasized education in India for ages 6-14. However, preschool education is not necessarily prioritized. In reality, more than 30 percent of educational funds are allocated towards higher education, leaving education for children under age 6 underfunded.
7. As of 2011, 21.2 percent of India’s population lives under the official poverty line. High poverty rates lead to high drop out rates for children. Why? Their priority and primary concern is helping their families survive. For the impoverished, education is a luxury, something only the rich can afford in terms of time and money. This mindset can be changed by allocating more money to building schools in impoverished areas in India thereby providing direct access to school and working around the schedules of those also helping their families.
8. In this years’ budget, the Finance Minister announced a 4.9 percent increase in the education budget. Four billion Indian Rupees ($58 million) will be allocated for setting-up world-class institutes of education in India. According to the Hindu Business Line, “Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will bring in a new national education policy to transform India’s higher education system to one of the best in the world.” Thirty percent of funds will be allocated towards higher education to emphasize research and innovation in higher education.
9. The recently increased education budget is focused on research and higher education in India, rather than primary and rural education. Though a meager amount of money will be spent on education in rural India, the state and central governments are working together by allocating approximately $5.7 billion for improving rural school infrastructure and recruiting teachers. With more qualified teachers and better infrastructure, a better school environment will be in place for children in these areas.
10. In addition to the issue of poor infrastructure of schools in rural areas, many children must travel far to attend school. Consequently, the government launched Samagra Shiksha, the first integrated scheme extending unified support to states from preschool to senior level. Under this program, preschool has a newfound priority. Girls from disadvantaged areas are also provided with more attention in terms of education. This is a step toward new programs that aim at improved education in India.
Photo by Loren Joseph