Does India comply with Literacy Standards?

We choose representatives in the government to serve our country, not only to take it to the newer heights, but primarily to work on the hindrances for basic living standards. Education lays the foundation stone for the development of any country, which in turn contributes to the economy. Thus, educated citizens make the most viable resource for any government. The literacy rate of India is 74.04% (2011 Census report), however, the quality of education has been notably astonishing, with many on-paper literates not complying with the standards of their highest education (ASER Report 2014).

Education is a public good, hence should be a State subject: from school to universities. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has said that the development of a country is not marked by its GDP, but its capability. It becomes the government’s responsibility to work on education from pre-primary to the higher studies.

The main areas that have emerged as obstacles for India to establish a complete literate citizenry are as follows:

  1. Improper Infrastructure and lack of Incentives

Regardless of 69 years of independence, a proper infrastructure for education is not uniformly found in the entire country, especially at rural or remote areas: school building, utilities, seating etc.

For small villages, there is one Panchayat for five. The benefits that a Panchayat representative receives from the government, for encouraging education among the villagers, gets limited to the village the representative belongs to and a little around, or where the Panchayat itself is situated. Thus, the far away areas from the Panchayat get deprived of the government incentives and unaware of the government schemes.

Furthermore, the students, especially underprivileged or with no literate background find it hard to comprehend with the course content, which incurs the need for separate tuition classes, which not everyone can afford.

  1. Scarcity of Resources

Regardless of the number of schemes the government run or the free institutions government set up, education is never complete free. The families have to spend either in buying stationary, as admission or exam fee, tuition fee, travel, uniform etc. Many states run schemes like mid-day meal, free books and uniform, travel vouchers: which are some relief though, however still not a complete solution, especially for extreme BPL families.

  1. Lack of Interest

It has been observed that many parents do not send their kids to schools for they do not really find the need. Thus, they are broadly not connected to the outcomes of education. Thus, it becomes critically important for the government to create a vision for education among the parents. Equally important is to develop interest among the facilitators or teachers, so that do not limit their work to waged work.

  1. Early drop-outs

The number of students that get admitted in a school is phenomenally higher than the ones graduating from the school, or colleges. There have been significant drop-outs at Class 5, 8, 10 and 12, and so forth in colleges too. These drop outs have been observed both in rural as well as urban areas. In an interview with Child Development Project Officer (CPDO) of village Badgaon (Udaipur, Rajasthan): Harsha Sharma, she has exclaimed that a lot of villages do not even have secondary and senior secondary schools and colleges. Another reason has been marriages (especially for girls), need for the family to have another employed member, lost trust from the end-vision, and so forth.

  1. Skill development and professional courses

The only reason parents admit their children in schools and children seek to pursue education is for their vision to live a better life. The issue arises when this vision gets disillusioned with time, especially with the fair-play of interest versus money: not all areas would be of interest to the students, and not all interest areas would be money-making – this added with uncertainty of employment. Thus, burden of livelihood dominates over talent and interest and accounts to drop-outs, or unwillingness to join schools at the first place. Even worse are the additional trainings and equipments required in respective skills, and the cost attached to it. This accounts to the reason of scarcity as well as lack of plurality in the field of medicine, art and films, sports etc.: there may be enough will and talent, but lack of support for pursuance.

Private institutions with sole purpose of profit, on the other hand, put baits of fulfilling dreams to attract students, however, fail to provide quality education. Similar happens in terms of quality with budget institutions too, which leads income inequality at the end. An MBA from an IIM would lead to a six-figure salary or more and that from any less known institution, among whom are those who have pushed ends to graduate, would initially strive for a job, and then end up with peanuts.

  1. Absence of Analysis

Many schemes that generate from the government’s end do not reach to its supposed beneficiaries. Similarly schemes, syllabi and infrastructure cannot be universally right. Any best practice adopted from X not necessarily would be equally good for Y, in fact can be much worse. Thus, imposing certain courses or infrastructure and investing on it just because they have had great outcomes somewhere is not really a great idea. A continuous feedback and analysis is important to capture – from all the stakeholders; and more important is implementation and follow-up.

Above issues aside, quality of education is directly linked to the resources allocated. Thus, fund allocation plays a major role in contributing to all the above bullets. Harsha Sharma (CPDO, Badgaon) has circled budget as a key reason for leaving out on gaps.

Other than budget, clearly seen is the sharing of responsibility with civil society organizations, who if not can completely resolve the finance issue, can at least contribute for equipped human resources: to willfully facilitate, assess and coordinate. Although, the government has been helping NGOs in various ways, however, the aid so far is menial, in terms of funds as well as policies. For instance, the recent RTE policy inhibits the working of the budget schools that provide quality education at minimal rate in areas completely deprived of a quality education set-up by the government. Since they are budget schools they cannot be provide all the facilities, yet they emerge as hope out of nowhere.

Childhood is like a wet-clay that only proper education can shape. The apt period for nurturing great values is schooling. To develop fruitful attitude in the being to be, the focus has to be from the beginning: from understanding child psychology, providing proper learning, at home, school and surrounding, indentifying their vision and talent, counsel them the path to follow and supporting them throughout. The way government would contribute in the development of the well-being, the country would enjoy the outcome: good or bad, embarassing or proud.

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