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Navigating The Challenges To India’s Quality Education

Did you know? As per the literacy rate 2011 census, Bihar was ranked with the least i.e 61.80% approximately which is quite astonishing considering its rich history of education with ancient universities like Nalanda and Vikramshila. What could be the main reason behind this? One of the significant reasons is definitely the inadequate investment. Moreover, recently a photo went viral from Munger University in Bihar, showing that 11th and 12th-grade students were writing papers on the rooftop and sitting on the floor. Similarly, in Faridabad, there have been recent instances of classes being conducted in corridors.This isn’t just a problem limited to Bihar and Faridabad, it’s a widespread issue across the country, which definitely highlights how much the schools lack proper infrastructure and the urgent need for action to improve the education system. Jean Drèze, an Indian Economist found out in a survey that the quality of education in Bihar is not good as the food provided through the mid-day meal program isn’t great, teachers are often missing from school, and direct benefit transfer for textbooks and uniforms is not working well.

How is the Government of India addressing the challenge of Infrastructure gap? Many schools in remote areas lack basic facilities such as having a proper classroom, furniture and electricity, which hampers the quality of education that students get. Government of India has approved a scheme PM SHRI Schools (PM ScHools for Rising India) under which more than 14500 schools will be developed with upgraded infrastructure, innovative pedagogy and technology. Moreover, the government of India has introduced programs such as the Digital India initiative and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan to tackle the issue of insufficient access to technology. These initiatives encompass a range of educational efforts, including providing computers to schools, utilizing computers for teaching purposes, and supplying digital materials to support learning. Moving on to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, which is indeed a great spot for tourism. However, you will be surprised to know that it is one of the poorest in terms of education, especially for girls. In Jaisalmer, there are small communities like Bheel Basti, where many people come from Pakistan. Unfortunately, girls in these communities are not allowed to go to school, and some have even been forced into child marriages. Despite efforts by the government and various organizations to improve the situation, progress has been slow, and the problem persists.

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What measures is the Indian government implementing to promote girls’ education? The ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA)’ has been enacted by the government to combat the occurrence of child marriages. Additionally, the Central Government conducts awareness campaigns, media initiatives, and outreach programs. It also periodically issues advisories to states and union territories to shed light on the various issues associated with this harmful practice. Furthermore, the Ministry of Women and Child Development administers the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)’ scheme, which aims to raise awareness among women and society as a whole about gender equality and the negative consequences of child marriages. Moreover, the government has established CHILDLINE, accessible through the short code 1098, which operates 24×7, it is an emergency outreach service to assist children facing crises. Furthermore, in various states across India, such as Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and several others, a severe shortage of teachers is a pressing issue. Shockingly, reports have indicated that in some cases, only 2-3 teachers are responsible for managing an entire school, highlighting the extent of the teacher shortage crisis in these regions.

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What initiatives are in place to address the teacher-to-student ratio? On September 5, 2023, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Malaviya Mission-Teachers Training Programme through the University Grants Commission (UGC) which aims to train more than 15 lakh teachers all across the country, using 111 Malaviya Mission centers. Additionally, in many rural schools, there aren’t enough qualified teachers to teach important subjects like science and math, which are crucial for students’ futures. To address this issue, initiatives like the National Initiative for School Heads’ Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) have been introduced which aim to enhance the quality of education by providing integrated training to teachers Moreover, It is believed that one of the issues is the quality of education as well that students receive. The actual learning and knowledge students gain are not as good as they could be because of various reasons, including the lack of necessary facilities. Even according to Unicef India, “poor quality education is leading to poor learning outcomes in India, ultimately pushing children out of the education system and leaving them vulnerable to child labour, abuse and violence.”

What factors contribute to the low quality of education, and how India is tackling it? Outdated curriculum is one of the major issues leading to the low quality of education for both the private and government sector, as the current education system overemphasizes too much on theoretical knowledge rather than providing practical learning which is the biggest drawback. Moreover, there is a lack of skill based courses or vocational training in the curriculum as well, which is essential for preparing students for the job market. Considering this, New Education Policy has been launched which places a strong focus on nurturing the creative abilities of every individual. It operates on the principle that education should not only enhance cognitive skills like critical thinking and problem-solving but also promote social, ethical, and emotional development and inclinations. Additionally, in conversation with TrueToLife, Akash, a government teacher mentioned “since he began his job, the number of girls enrolling in school has been significantly lower than that of boys. He also noted that even among the girls who are enrolled, many are reluctant to attend school due to the inadequate sanitation facilities, particularly for girls, at the school.” In fact, to address this issue Unicef has started a WASH Program to make sure that in schools, there are separate bathrooms for boys and girls. It also ensures there are enough facilities for girls to manage their periods, like a private place to change, clean water for washing, and a way to dispose of menstrual waste properly. In conclusion, considering Akash’s statement and the situation prevailing in various parts of the country clearly shows that overcoming these obstacles demands a collaborative commitment from government officials, educators, communities, and various organizations. By prioritizing enhancements in infrastructure, teacher excellence, curriculum, technology availability, and sanitation amenities, India can strive to offer high-quality education to all its citizens. This endeavor will enable the nation to tap into the boundless potential of its youth and secure a more promising future.

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Sources: https://www.pib.gov.in/ : https://www.census2011.co.in/literacy.php :

Hindustan Times, The Tribune, India Blooms, The Telegraph.

By: Shreya Kaushal.

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