In light of a recently released report by the UNESCO, it has become imperative to re-examine India’s education system. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report suggests that India might be 50 years delayed in achieving its global education goals, judging by its current trend. It also underlines the fact that the country’s education system needs an immediate overhaul if it is to meet its sustainable development goals’ deadline of 2030.
On the basis of current trends, UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report states that the goals of universal primary education in South Asia will be realized by 2051, lower secondary by 2062, and higher secondary by 2087. The report also said that India is likely to achieve universal primary education by 2050, universal lower secondary education by 2060, and universal higher secondary education by 2085.
Looking at these figures, it might have occurred to some of the readers of this article, that we may not be alive to see India realize its education goals.
Since 2008-2009, enrollment has hit a new low by almost half, between class 11 and 12 and college, said a report by the Delhi-based Institute for Policy Research Studies (PRS). In class 10, the enrollment is currently at 77 per cent, while that of class 11 stands at only 52 per cent. Last month, the UNESCO reported a staggering 47 million youth belonging to secondary and higher secondary school-going age, as having dropping out of school by class 10.
Strangely enough, despite this, the report also noted a general rise in university enrollment since 2008. A report by IndiaSpend confirmed the enrollment of boys in higher education at 13 per cent, while that of girls overall was at 21 per cent, as of July 2016.
While a general rise in gross enrollment ratio (GER) at most levels of education in India confirms increased accessibility to the Indian education system, six million children aged 6-13 are gauged as still out of the school system, according to a Ministry of Human Resource Development survey in 2014.
Statistics in the report also disclose that only six per cent of adults in the poorest countries and just five in India have ever participated in literacy programmes, after passing the formal schooling system.
The report urges the governments of various countries to start seriously addressing inequalities in education by recording figures though direct collection from families.
“The new global development agenda calls for education ministers and other education actors to work in collaboration with other sectors,” said the report. Variegated benefits that could emerge if key players in education work in alliance with other sectors have been recorded in the GEM report. These partnerships could help deliver health intervention through schools, contribute to increase in crop yields by 12 per cent and use education to control population growth.
As reported by Firstpost, Uttar Pradesh leads the school dropout rates with 1.6 million children who are out of school, followed closely by Bihar and Rajasthan. This problem affects employment too. Nearly 18 per cent of 15-24-year-olds in the country are jobless, which is 5 per cent above the international average, as evaluated by the global youth unemployment rate of 2013. A November 2015 report by IndiaSpend said that the recently launched skills-based programmes need the fulfillment of minimum eligibility to apply for training. 5 of the 29 courses included in the Prime Minister’s Skill Development Scheme, also known as thePradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana require the class 12 examinations to be cleared, and in addition, four educational levels above class 12.
During a recent visit to India, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam named education as India’s greatest hurdle right now. “Schools are the biggest crisis in India today, and have been for a long time,” said Tharman. He corroborated his statement with facts: Schoolteachers are in short supply by a staggering 700,000 across the country; 43 per cent of children do not make it to upper primary school; 53 per cent of schools provide toilets to girls; only 74 per cent of India’s population have access to potable water.
These dismal statistics serve to highlight (some of) the causes behind India’s impeded education sector. Only when the basic issues are dealt with will India be able to advance in its education endeavors. It should not take a foreign minister to point out our weaknesses. Introspection is the need of the hour.
Sources: TOI, Huffington Post