Education should be made free in India – Steps towards a progressive and literate nation.
Education is the basis of cultural and psychological development of a child. Without it, no child can reach his or her full potential, nor can they work up their way towards making their country better and more progressive. The importance of education lies in the knowledge it imparts about worldly issues.
India’s recent economic growth rates have generated much optimism about its general social and economic development. But has there been accompanying progress in indicators of educational outcomes? How good are Indian educational achievements in relation to
China’s, the country with which it is increasingly compared. For this reason, we have to go into the analysis of India’s educational standards and developments in the recent past and at present.
Analysis of India’s educational standards
The story of India’s educational achievements has lots of positives and negatives about it. On the negative side, India has 22 percent of the world’s population, since India is the second most populated country in the world after China, but 46 percent of the world’s illiteracy rate is also because of India, which is rather shameful for us. India is also the dwelling place of immensely large population children and youth who are school drop-outs.
However, taking into consideration certain positive aspects, the country has also made a lot of progress in more recent times by increasing participation of students in schools, from various areas of the country. The government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, started the “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao Abhiyaan” that took the initiative of educating the females of India. Early education for girls was only restricted to the upper strata of society.
Education for girls was an afterthought that was pushed back, way back, and ignored for ages. Soon steps were taken for rising the literacy rates among girls who make up the majority of the Indian population. West Bengal government also took the initiative of starting the “Kanyasree” and “Yavasree” programs, that provided incentives to girls and youths of underprivileged areas for continuing their education without digging a big hole in their pockets.
After independence, India was presented with the challenge of large-scale illiteracy as well as a lack of proper incentive and methods used for imparting education to its youths and children. During the initial stages, after independence, the census of 1951 showed that only 9 percent of women and 27 percent of men were literate in our country, while the rest lacked even basic education.
Later on, the issue was resolved by the framers of the constitution by claiming that soon, free and compulsory education would be provided to the children of the country, up till the age of 14 years, in every state. This was however decided to be an elusive and fantastical idea, and has been pushed back and ignored over a span of more than half a century. While even today, this goal remains unfulfilled.
India is a developing country and has a high rate of poverty-stricken people living in it. While we civilians living in urban areas and enjoying our lives in luxury and facilities, are ignorant towards the various struggles faced by underlying strata of the society and feel that as long as we live a life of peace, everything under the sun is beautiful, we fail to realise how education is a luxury most people cannot afford in our country.
Heterogeneous nature of education in India
Keeping that in mind, education should be free at least till the age of 14 years so that every person living in India is exposed to basic literacy and is not completely ignorant and uneducated. The literacy rate is severely heterogeneous in India. While Bengal has the most balanced quintal of education and Orissa has the highest, states such as Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, etc., have considerably low quintals of literacy.
However, in gender parity for secondary education enrolment; Bengal is not even in the top half, while Union Territory Chandigarh is clear at the top followed by Delhi and then closely by Kerala. Survey of 1999/2000 show a huge imbalance between education standards of different states.
From this, we can easily conclude that to remove gender parity; education must be free so that both the genders get easy access to education. Between 11 and 14 years of age, Maharashtra has had the highest increase in female education during the 1990s, which was an astonishing 22% rise, while Bengal comes second with a 19% rise.
Though literacy rate crossed 60% by 2001, female literacy barely touched 50%, creating a rather alarming situation in the country. While the disparity between Indian and international standards and curriculum of education is very low at primary level, the disparity at the secondary level is alarming.
Shocking facts about education in India
When Kalyan Singh government in UP introduced police in examination centers to prevent cheating, the pass rate fell from 57% to 14.7% in 1991. The drawback of Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan was lack of incentives for teachers which lead to high rate of absence and negligence.
While mid-day meal was a good initiative with a remarkable response, bad quality food went against it. Coming to a more humanitarian point, we come to know that education is becoming a business day by day where there is no overall development as long as there are private institutes. Also, if there is paid education, private institutes will have to be better otherwise people won’t go there. As a result of this, government schools are lagging behind.
Furthermore, without individual growth, there can not be an increase in per capita GDP. India lags even behind the likes of Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. other third world countries in terms of literacy rates and educational standards. Between 11 and 16 years of age, there is roughly 30% drop in attendance, which is an alarming rate, and this is primarily because of poverty and resultantly employment of these school goers in some form or the other.
It might be rather shocking to hear about this, but, 46% of world’s illiteracy is in India. 61% adult and 76% of youth have basic literacy in the world. One of the reasons for literacy is the Information Technology boom worldwide. Due to an increase in technological advancements, education has been easily accessible and attainable for people worldwide. In 2006, 93.4% of children attended school, but despite that, the literacy rate is still very much lagging in our country.
Reasons why education should be free
- To make the nature of education in India more homogenous and widespread, the government needs to make education free in India.
- Educational institutions must hire quality teachers even though education is imparted free of cost; otherwise, underprivileged children will only get wrong knowledge and information.
- Since more than half of Indian population consists of poverty-stricken people and farmers, education should be free as most of these people cannot afford to pay for their children’s education and hence they abstain from admitting their children into schools.
- Due to the huge population in India, free education becomes a very difficult goal to achieve. However, when medication is the right of the people and is provided by governmental hospitals for free, the same should be done with educational institutions since basic education is also the right of every citizen of the country.
- Since most of the country is not e-literate, due to booming technology and education going primarily online, has resulted in large part of the population lagging way behind.
- In order to overcome the ignorance and blind orthodoxy among Indian people, education is very important and should be available to every single citizen, despite their financial stability.
- Free education would encourage more parents to get their children admitted into educational institutions, rather than making them work in factories and spoil their entire childhood.
- Most people in India, especially in the poorer sections of the society, have more than two children. So paying for the education of all of them becomes extremely difficult for the earning members of the family. Hence, free education will be a convenient means of imparting education.
Hence, we can conclude from this that by taking small steps towards nurturing free and quality education for the masses, we can end the present continuous tense of the development of our nation, from a developing third world country to that of a developed first world country.
Education is the right of every child born on the face of this earth, and not everyone is born into financially stable families. For that, do they deserve to face ignorance? They don’t. We can do our bit, belonging to the post-modern era of civilized and educated individuals, by setting up private institutions where we can teach the slum children of our locality for free. These small steps can ultimately lead to bigger changes on a broader spectrum.