Education is seen as one of the prominent ways through which poverty can be reduced in India. Providing education to the poor and weaker sections of the society tackles the problems relating to unemployment, low earnings, low productivity and so on in the country.
As a step to educate the people of the country, the government has come up with great steps like Right to education act which mandates education for children from 6 to 14 years of age, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan for promoting girl education, Mid Day meal schemes, and so on. However, there are a lot of loopholes in the education system for poor people due to which many are not able to empower themselves despite the opportunity of education given to them.
Why Indian education system is poor? What’s missing from Indian Education system? How can we improve the Indian education system for the poor? Let’s look into these topics briefly-
Today, India has more than 20 Lakh schools in the country which are either government or private. Even these private schools are partially aided by the state or central government. However, despite this, the learning growth of children in these schools have not shown satisfactory results.
As per ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) 2018, among the grade 5 students who possess more than four years of schooling experience, only half of them were able read a grade 2 text fluently. Data like these clearly indicate the need to improve the quality of the education in the country.
What does the Indian Education system lack?
Here are some reasons responsible for the education system being poor in the country.
Lack of trained teachers
According to the Times of India 2020 report, 17.1% of teaching positions are vacant in government schools. With little to no trained teachers in these schools, the quality of teaching deteriorates and this will ultimately have a negative impact on the student’s learning.
Content in textbooks
The relevance of the text, numbers and data in the textbooks are questionable. Often students are made to learn the data which has already been changed or modified. This could restrict the student from being up-to-date with the facts and proper texts or data.
Learning environment and way of teaching
Over the years, learning has become a huge stress for children. Rather than having the curiosity of learning something new, studying feels like a burden to them.
If we can change the way concepts are being taught to children (i.e by making it more fun for children), there is a huge chance that they will remember and understand the concept in a better way.
In India, rather than understanding what the concept is trying to convey, the students focus on rote learning the content of study materials and writing it down in the exam. Due to this, despite scoring well in exams, there is little to no gain of knowledge. The purpose of education is to learn and for that to happen, the concept of rote learning should be kept away from students. Focus should be more on what the concept meant rather than copying the answer as provided in the textbooks or notes.
No teaching of basic necessary skills
There are several basic skills like opening bank accounts or transferring money, maintaining basic hygiene, time management, student loans, using human survival kits or basic first aid and so on that can help a child in future. However, such skills are often not taught in schools.
Why are schools not able to help the poor?
Despite governmental initiatives and schemes, the empowerment of the poor through education has been quite low. Here are some of the reasons for it-
Lack of educational facilities
The 2019- 2020 report of Unified District Information System for Education Plus (EDISE+) states that only 77.34% of government schools have proper electrical connectivity. Even though almost all the schools have toilet facilities for children, 10% of them lack hand wash facilities.
More than 29,000 schools have no drinking water facilities. About 16% of schools do not have libraries and more than 9 lakh schools do not have proper computer facilities.
The lack of such facilities often have a negative impact on schools and their students. For example, due to lack of computer facilities, the basic knowledge of computers will not be provided to the students. This is concerning as the whole world in today’s time is heavily dependent on technology.
As per the Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, (which was recently amended in 2016), the employment of children under the age of 14 years and employment of adolescents between 14 to 18 years of age in hazardous occupations and processes are illegal. However, despite this, the census of 2011 estimated that around 3.9% of the child population is working as child labourers.
Due to lack of income, these underprivileged children often resort to work as a child labourer instead of attending schools. Hence, it is necessary for the country and the government to make sure that every home is provided with at least basic amenities so that a child doesn’t have to lose the opportunity of educating themselves. Apart from that, strict actions should be taken to make sure that the child is not made to work illegally in the country.
Apart from many children dropping out or not attending schools due to child labor, there are also many children who despite not working outside, are unable to attend schools. Majority of them are girls. These children are often made to focus on domestic chores as both the parents have to work outside to earn money.
According to UNICEF, among the boys and girls, girls are two times more likely to not attend schools and do domestic chores like cleaning, cooking, taking care of younger siblings, and so on.
Poor teaching methodologies
Due to lack of trained teachers and poor teaching methodologies, the underprivileged children, despite attending the schools, are not able to grasp the concept and since they cannot afford or go for private tutoring they often end up performing badly in the exams and have low learning outcomes.
What could be done to improve the education system in India?
Here are the few things that the country and the government can focus on to improve the education system –
Improve the quality of teachers and attract more trained teachers
There is a lack of trained and skilled teachers in the country. The major issues due to which people do not take up this profession is the low income, high workload, challenges in the classrooms, no idea about career growth in this field and so on. The country and its government should look into these problems and work towards tackling them.
Stringent action over illegal child labour
Child labor is seen as one of the major barrier that stops a child from going to schools. Despite banning this practice, it is still prevalent in the country, hence, stringent action needs to be taken against it.
Development of school infrastructure and facilities
The government and schools should focus on developing their school’s infrastructure and facilities so that a child can have more opportunities to learn.
Teaching basic necessary skills
Basic skills like student loans, time management, bank account opening and money transfers, digital rules and so on, should be taught to children so that they can utilise this knowledge in future.
Emphasis on sports and other extracurricular activities
The government and schools need to focus more on physical and mental health of its students and should encourage the children to take part in sports and other extracurricular activities. By doing this, an interest or a hobby can be inculcated in students which can physically or mentally benefit them.
Emphasis on experiential learning
In order to remove the concept of rote learning, the concept of experiential or practical based learning should be instilled in students. This way they will focus more on understanding and applying the matter in problems rather than just mugging it up for exams.
Focus on relevance of the content on textbooks
Frequent revision of textbook and other study materials should be done to make sure that the matter in them stays up to date.
In 2020, the government of India released the New Education policy (NEP) which has several promising points that can actually improve the education system of the country, if it is implemented efficiently.
The Indian government has been consistently making efforts in improving the quality of education of the poor in the country. However, apart from them, there are several individuals, charity groups and NGOs like Narayan Seva Sansthan that have put forth commendable efforts to reach out to the underprivileged children and provide quality education to them.
As an individual of the country, there are so many things that you can do to help the underprivileged in receiving quality education. Some of them are-
Monetary Donations to education NGOs
There are several NGOs in India that work towards providing quality education to the underprivileged. However, in order to do so, they would require monetary support from people, businesses, institutions and other such organisations. Hence, donating a little amount to such NGOs can be a great way through which you can contribute in educating the children from weaker sections of the society.
Donation of educational resources
If not money, then donation of resources like books, stationeries, puzzles, and so on to the underprivileged children can be a great way to help and support the education of the poor.
Tutoring the underprivileged
Many unprivileged children, despite going to schools, often struggle with grasping and understanding the concepts taught to them. As their parents are not well educated and could not afford private tuition fees, the children will often have difficulty with grades and academics.
Hence, offering free tuition to students in your free time can be a great way in which you can help in their education.
Sponsoring an underprivileged talent
If you are someone who is wealthy enough to sponsor someone’s education, then you should definitely go for it! There are millions of talents in India that are never brought in front of the world as they weren’t able to get the necessary education for it. By sponsoring even one such talent, you can improve his/her life to a great extent.
Spreading awareness regarding importance of education
Even today, many underprivileged people in India are unaware of the importance of education and its ability to empower and improve their lives. Hence, by participating in campaigns that work towards spreading awareness regarding education, you can help and encourage a lot of families to enrol their children in schools.
Narayan Seva Sansthan
One of the NGOs in India that has been consistently putting efforts towards providing quality education to every possible underprivileged child of the country is Narayan Seva Sansthan.
The sansthan, established in 1985, has been consistently working towards uplifting divyangs and other unprivileged sections of the society. Their sevas have continued to improve the lives of many people.
Some of their such sevas include- Garib parivar ration yojana, mass wedding ceremonies for divyangs and other underprivileged people, treatment and corrective surgeries of Divyangs and other underprivileged people, winter seva and so on.
To provide quality education to underprivileged children for free of cost, the sansthan has established an English medium co-educational school called Narayan Children Academy. The foundation of the school was laid on the auspicious occasion of Guru purnima on 31st July 2015 by Dr. Prashant Agarwal, the president of the Narayan Seva Sansthan.
Along with quality education, the school also ensures that educational facilities like free lunch boxes, conveyance, uniforms, stationeries, and health care is provided to the children.
Apart from this, the sansthan has also set up a training and skill development centre called Narayan Shala which provides courses like mobile repairing, computer classes, and sewing training for free of cost to Divyangs and other underprivileged people.