Quality education for all should be the aim

The education sector in India has witnessed a great extent of development in the past ten years. The drastic change is not only the result of rising number of institutes across the country but also because of the economic progress.

Education in rural areas has improved with many programmes implemented by various governments. According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the literacy rate of rural India in 2015 was recorded to be 71% as compared to 52% in 2001. The primary education attendance rate and literacy level have reached to approximately three-quarters of the population.

In the higher studies too, the All India council for Technical education has stated that more than 3, 524 diploma and post-diploma offering institutions and 3, 495 degree-granting engineering colleges have been established in India giving education to lakhs of students every year.

The rise in online education has changed the way education used to be delivered to students. This revolution has proved advantageous to students who cannot afford going places to seek good education or who have to work while studying. Distant education is also one of its kind that aims at helping students who cannot attend regular classes. India’s education market has increased to U.S $ 100 billion in 2016 as compared to $ 40 billion in 2008 while the digital learning market is estimated at $ 2 billion.

While we as a nation are rising in terms of numbers in the education sector, it is true that the quality of education is somewhat lagging behind.

While the literacy rate in rural India has increased, it is disappointing to see that a fifth standard student from a village is generally not able to match the standards of even an eighth-grade student from a town. Many teachers are not trained properly due to which the students are not taught well. The selection process of teachers is a mere formality but bribing the officials is the main ladder due to which rural schools lack the quality of teachers.

Moreover, the infrastructure facilities are not up to the mark. At many places, there is only one school for several neighbouring villages and in them too, the buildings are not fit for the proper use of providing education. Lack of blackboards, classroom and benches pose a hurdle during conducting classes. Many girls drop out of schools either due to societal pressure, poverty or lack of toilets in schools. Corrupt officials also play a major role in the degrading level of education when they eat off the money meant for buying the books and other essential items for the school.

While rural Indian schools have their own problems, the schools in urban areas are also lacking in quality as compared to earlier education.

In order to involve a student’s heart and mind in studies without getting bored, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2009 introduced the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system in all CBSE schools. The then education minister, Kapil Sibal imported the CCE system from the west with an aim to evaluate overall personality development of a student and raise the learning process in a playful manner. The idea was to reduce the undue stress of competitiveness among students, parents and educational institutions but rather the system has been highly criticised by both teachers and students.

The students have a tendency to make the presentation of papers and projects based on inputs downloaded from the internet or copied from friends which do not solve the purpose of the system. As the students know that they won’t fail as a maximum percentage of marks are in the teacher’s hands and it is compulsory to give the passing marks, they do not put in the labour to learn which is why when they reach 11th grade, they find it difficult to pull on the course. As a result, many of them are either falling into depression or committing suicides. The rest who try to pass find it difficult to crack the competitive exams which are becoming difficult with every passing year and thus the higher education too in India is getting affected.

In urban areas, the teachers have been preferring the old education system for it produced quality students and are still hoping for the present government to change the system for a better future.

We have come a long way in the past ten years. Today we claim to be the biggest human resources supplier for the world, but are we concerned what quality of human capital are we building and for whose needs?