In the past few decades, our country has made strides in the field of science and technology. It has reached Mars, but a sizeable number of its children are yet to reach a primary level school. Today one out of its four children in class 8th can’t read 2nd standard books and can’t perform basic mathematical operations. Basic and Primary education is in shambles today!
In India, students are migrating to private schools from government schools, a country where Right to education is a fundamental right. In particular, this decline has become more rapid & alarming in last 5 years. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, student enrolment in government schools across 20 states fell by 13 million, while private schools enrolled 17.5 million new students.
This happened despite the Rs 1.16 lakh crore ($17.7 billion) spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA).
Government schools have a major role to play in making education available to the last mile in India. Government schools are affordable. These schools provide education without any discrimination. Policies like ‘Free and Compulsory Education‘, ‘Education to The Girl Child‘, ‘Mid-day Meal‘ are only in the government schools.
Salaries of government school teachers are considerably high. But still, they lag far behind their private counterparts in attracting student and providing quality education.
The reasons for crisis are:
1. Medium of instruction
Most of the private schools offer primary education in English medium and this clearly has an edge over government schools where primary education is still given in vernacular languages. One-Nation One Education System can be a game-changer to turn things around!
2. Lack of infrastructure
It has primely added to the plight of primary education in India. Barring schools like Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya, Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya, most of the government schools lack basic facilities. Classrooms, clean drinking water, separate toilet for girls etc are still a dream for most of the government schools. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the number of private schools grew 35%–from 0.22 million to 0.30 million –while the number of government schools grew 1%, from 1.03 million to 1.04 million. Section 6 of the Right To Education Act 2009 legally obligates states to create more government schools.
3. Lack of qualified teachers
Lack of competent and qualified teachers in government schools has aggravated the problem. Existing lot have a lack of motivation and interest, absenteeism, inadequate training. Anurag Behar, CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, an educational non-profit organisation, pointed out that “the average school teacher in India does not get adequate pre-service or in-service education, nor do they get the support to overcome these problems.”
4. Rampant corruption
Rampant corruption in the selection process has led to poor quality of teachers. Guest teachers / Para teachers in no. of states throughout the country work at a salary sometimes as low as one-fourth of permanent teachers. It is estimated that almost 20 percent of all the teachers appointed in the country do not fulfil the norms of the National Council for Teachers’ Education(NCTE). It is not only the quantity but also the quality of teachers, which is a great concern and hurdle.
5. Lack of accountability
Though Private School’s teach teachers are paid less and are sometimes also less ‘qualified’, but the work environment is professional and result-oriented. Government schools suffer from the lackadaisical attitude of the government machinery in India. Continuous poor show in exams at secondary and higher secondary level exams has also led to shifting of parents choice. Private schools outperform government schools in all spheres of education.
6. Lack of funding
Private schools are able to meet their financial requirements. They charge a hefty fee from the students and thus are able to maintain a huge budget. It shows that parents are willing to pay for quality education. Government schools charge meagre fee leading to financial crunch. Budget problems also contribute to the inadequate availability of teachers in government schools. The New Education Policy-1968 called for increasing the spending on education to 6 percent of the national income. However, the highest amount spent by India on education, till date, is 4.45 percent (approx.) of the total GDP, in the year 2014.
Jumpstart Basic & Primary Education
We thrive in a nation where the society see education as the means of climbing the socio-economic ladder. If the education system is slipping – then it is assuredly not due to lack of interest for good education, or because a market for education does not exist.
The education system in India is failing because of more intrinsic reasons. the demand for quality education aren’t necessarily translated into Excellent education services, there are methodological faults. One haunting question- Will Education be revitalized in India?
Therefore, it’s high time that government takes some serious and concrete steps to transform the quality of education especially at the primary level in government schools.