Education Sector in India: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - February - 2016

Education Sector In India

Education is one of the most important sector for the development of any country. According to Noble laureate Amartya sen, every country should focus on Health and Education. If health and education are taken care of, they will take care of all the other sectors. A welleducated population, equipped with the relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills is essential for economic and social development in the twenty-first century. Education also act as a social mobiliser for the deprived and oppresed sector of society. Peopple from socially backward classes as well as women find their voices after getting proper education. Education provides skills and competencies for economic well-being. Education is also necessary for the development of democracy, untill people are educated they lack awareness about their rights. Education also acts as an integrative force in society, imparting values that foster social cohesion and national identity. Education can be divided into three groups of elementary, upper primary and higher education. All these sectors have some challenges, but in all the sectors country has made good progress in last few decades.

The country has made significant progress in improving access to education in recent years. The mean years of schooling of the working population (those over 15 years old) increased from 4.19 years in 2000 to 5.12 years in 2010. Enrolment of children at the primary education stage has now reached near-universal levels. Youth literacy increased from 60 per cent in 1983 to 91 per cent in 2009–10 and adult literacy improved from 64.8 per cent in 2001 to 74 per cent in 2011. Despite many gains there are still several challenges which India is facing in elementary and Upper primary level of education. These challenges include:

  • The country’s mean years of schooling at 5.12 years is well below the other emerging market economies such as China (8.17 years) and Brazil (7.54 years).
  • The biggest concern in elementary education is the poor level of student learning—both scholastic and co-scholastic/non-cognitive.
  • Another challenge is steep drop out after elementary level education. Disadvantaged groups are worse off with the dropout rates for SCs and STs higher than the national average.
  • Another area of concern is there is very low attendance in some of the most educationally backward States (Uttar Pradesh [UP], Bihar, Madhya Pradesh [MP] and Jharkhand). Attendance is below 60 per cent in these states.
  • Although there has been a substantial increase in the availability of teachers at elementary level, the pupil–teacher ratio (PTR) at the national level will almost be 27:1. The challenge, however, lies in correcting the imbalance in teacher deployment.
  • Another serious challenge is the presence of teachers without professional qualifications approved by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), as is required under the RTE Act.

Elementary Education comprising primary (Class I–V) and upper primary (Class VI–VIII)forms the foundation of the education pyramid. Unless this foundation is strengthened, it will not be feasible to achieve the goal of universal access to quality education for all. A major achievement in recent years has been the establishment of Constitutional and legal underpinnings for achieving universal elementary education. In order to solve the problems associated with these two sectors plan document has given following recommendations; Improve the quality of education; Improve attendance and reduce dropout rates at the elementary level to below 10 per cent; Increase enrolments at higher levels of education and raise the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the secondary level to over 90 per cent, at the Senior Secondary level to over 65 per cent; Improve learning outcomes that are measured, monitored and reported independently at all levels of school education; Improve teacher training with an emphasis on effective pedagogy given the realities of Indian classrooms such as multiage, multi-grade and multi-level contexts; Ensure convergence with panchayats, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and other sectors at school level.

Higher education is critical for developing a modern economy, a just society and a vibrant polity. It equips young people with skills relevant for the labour market and the opportunity for social mobility. It provides people already in employment with skills to negotiate rapidly evolving career requirements. It prepares all to be responsible citizens who value a democratic and pluralistic society. Thus, the nation creates an intellectual repository of human capital to meet the country’s needs and shapes its future. Indeed, higher education is the principal site at which our national goals, developmental priorities and civic values can be examined and refined.

It is estimated that developed economies and even China will face a shortage of about 40 million highly skilled workers by 2020, while, based on current projections of higher education, India is likely to see some surplus of graduates in 2020. Thus, India could capture a higher share of global knowledge based work, for example by increasing its exports of knowledge-intensive goods and services, if there is focus on higher education and its quality is globally benchmarked. less than one-fifth of the estimated 120 million potential students are enrolled in HEIs in India, well below the world average of 26 per cent. Wide disparities exist in enrolment percentages among the States and between urban and rural areas while disadvantaged sections of society and women have significantly lower enrolments than the national average.

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