By Syed Feroz:
Education is the key to empower the masses. It inculcates rational outlook among the citizens and improves the skills and capabilities of the individuals.
After Independence, realizing the huge disparities in socio-economic conditions of the people, the nationalist leaders realized the role education could play in ameliorating these conditions and open new avenues for the upliftment of the society. Since then many development programmes have been launched by the successive governments and there has been improvement in the literacy rate of the country which is currently 74%.
But there are also many limitations in the education system of the country, with public spending on education being less than 2% of the GDP one of the main drawbacks.
Gandhiji advocated an alternate system of education, also known as “Nai Talim” or “Basic education” which synchronizes Head, Heart and Hand providing Knowledge, values and Skills respectively.
According to Jean Dreze, there are three basic problems with the education system in India. They are :-
(i) Poor quality of infrastructure
(ii) Poor quality of teachers
(iii) Irrelevant curriculum
The poor quality of Infrastructure in schools is reflected in lack of toilets which leads to increase in drop-out rates of girl children. Similarly, poor quality of teachers and irrelevant curriculum is leading to poor learning outcomes.
Apart from these, due to rise in income levels of middle classes, the growth of private educational institutions is increasing. The reason for this can also be attributed to change in preference of the parents who feel that Government schools have inadequate standards in terms of quality of teachers, and infrastructure.
The measures needed to improve the Education system in India are:
- Increase the Public spending on Education to 2.5% of GDP as per TSR Subramanian Committee
- Mobilise CSR funds from corporates and improve basic infrastructure in schools. This can reduce drop-out rates of girl children.
- Improve and expand vocation system of education to ensure sustainable livelihoods.
- Effective implementation of Mid-day meal programme to improve nutritional needs of children. This has the potential to improve human capital.
- At the University level, increase the Student-industry interface so that students become familiar with industry oriented skills.
- Awareness on programmes like Skill India to equip students with adequate skills so that it can ensure gainful livelihood opportunities.