India has made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three-quarters of the population in the 7-100 age group, in 2011. India’s improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of India. Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions. At primary through high school level, as well as certain higher level technical schools, India has a combination of government run public and private schools system. About 60% of the students go to public schools and 40% to private; the private education market in India had revenue of US$ 450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market.
ANNUAL STATUS OF EDUCATION REPORT
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5% of all rural children between the ages of 6-14 were enrolled in school. This is the fourth annual survey to report enrolment above 96%. Another report from 2013 stated that there were 229 million students enrolled in different accredited urban and rural schools of India, from Class I to XII, representing an increase of 2.3 million students over 2002 total enrollment, and a 19% increase in girl’s enrolment. While quantitatively India is inching closer to universal education, the quality of its education has been questioned particularly in its government run school system. Some of the reasons for the poor quality include absence of around 25 percent of teachers everyday. States of India have introduced tests and education assessment system to identify and improve such schools.
RURAL EDUCATION IN INDIA
Majority of India still lives in villages and so the topic of rural education in India is of utmost importance. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), shows that even though the number of rural students attending schools is rising, but more than half of the students in fifth grade are unable to read a second grade text book and are not able to solve simple mathematical problems. Not only this, the level of maths and reading is further declining. Though efforts are being made, they are not in the right direction. The reason cited for this problem in surveys is the increasing number of single classroom to educate students from more than one grade. In some states attendance of teachers and students is also declining. These are a few reasons why schools have failed to educate rural India.
REASONS FOR SLOW GROWTH OF EDUCATION IN RURAL INDIA
Quality and access to education is the major concern in rural schools as there are fewer committed teachers, lack of proper text books and learning material in the schools. Though Government schools exist, but when compared to private schools then quality is a major issue. Majority of people living in villages have understood the importance of education and know that it is the only way to get rid of poverty. But due to lack of money they are not able to send their children to private schools and hence depend upon government schools for education. Above that, in some of the government schools there is only one teacher for the entire school and if they don’t show up at work, then it is a holiday. If the quality along with number of teachers and, that too committed teacher can be improved in these schools, then aspiring rural children and India can fulfil their dreams of doing something great.
Some government schools in rural India are overly packed with students, leading to a distorted teacher- student ratio. In one such remote village in Arunachal Pradesh there are more than 300 students in class X which makes nearly 100 students in each classroom. In such a situation it is impossible for teachers to pay full attention towards each and every student, even if they are willing to help.
Every village is not provided with school which means that students have to go to another village to get education. Owing to this parents usually do not send their daughters to school, leading to a failure in achieving rural education in India.
Poverty is another setback. Government schools are not as good and private schools are expensive. This results in a very low number of students actually clearing their secondary education and taking admission in colleges for further studies. So the drop-out-rate at the secondary level is extremely high in villages. Only parents who can afford college education send their kids to secondary schools. If parents are not able to send their wards for higher education then all their previous efforts get wasted as completing just secondary education means a low paying job and the person is again struck in the same never ending cycle of money, life and poverty.
Most textbooks are in English and since people in rural areas either speak their native language or Hindi, but not English that defeats the purpose. This results in lack of their interest in studies. Though some of the students from villages are really brilliant, as they have a wealth of practical knowledge and know how to survive even in very harsh conditions of life, difficultly in understanding their textbooks, lack of facilities and their poverty are a hurdle in their education.
Quality related issues are far powerful than poverty. Students are not at all encouraged to think but they are asked to memorize pre-defined questions for exams. So for many students clearing examination at the end of the session, passing their exam becomes more important than gaining knowledge. Also as per the new CBSE rule, every student is supposed to be promoted to the next class irrespective of marks in their examination. Hence majority of students do not bother to study, which means a decline in their education level. Neither students nor teachers take any interest in studies which is why the level of education is declining in India despite many efforts.
The foundation to turn India into a strong nation has to be laid down at primary and rural levels and so the quality of education right from the beginning should be excellent. Education and text books should be made interesting. For rural students textbooks related to their culture, their traditions and values should also be there so as to create their interest in studies. The reasons behind so many drop-outs in spite of free education should be found out as this is a hurdle on the road to progress. Improvement in the condition of government schools, education quality, committed teachers and more salaries to these teachers should be part of development.
IAOS’s INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO RURAL EDUCATION
INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF OPEN SCHOOLING participates in providing education to people in rural areas their by prophesying the vision of National Literacy Mission. IAOS wants to make Education affordable and easy to reach for people in rural areas. IAOS follows the path of non-formal education. This mode will be helpful for discontinued students, poverty-stricken students, students who know only their mother tongue (Regional Language). Rural areas do not have proper schools and the few schools present have very small or only one classroom. In these areas non-formal education or distance education mode is a boon. They can utilize this mode to increase their capacity. Capacity building is important for the people as well as the nation as a whole.
INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF OPEN SCHOOLING has effectively played its part in developing urban areas and now has turned its eyes towards Rural areas. As rural areas form most part of India, their development is very important for the development of entire nation. IAOS’s Rural Committees in each rural areas headed by the Village Chief. These Committees will find out the best method to impart education to rural people. Choice of Medium will be chosen as per their mother tongue. Self Help Groups will also play an active role in spreading education in rural areas. INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF OPEN SCHOOLING will identify volunteers willing to spread education in rural areas.