Education Problems in India have been in existence for quite some time now and these continue to dog the concerned. India has reached remarkable achievement in economic sector and this has brought a lot of changes in the education sector. But these changes have not turned to be sufficient to solve the ever-existent and ever-changing Education Problem in India. The problems of education system in India are of grave concern and this concern has not been ignored. The budget for education has been increasing over the years, During March 2011, Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister of India (2011) announced a meaty increase of 24% towards the education sector. It is yet to be seen if this is sufficient enough. Increase in budget allocation is not new but what doesn’t increase are the effect of these efforts, which have been far too less than compared to the western counterparts. India today is the Second Largest Higher Education Network in the World. There are 343 Universities and 17000 Colleges which are increasing in number with every passing year. A country with more than 1 Billion population has just one third population which can read. India accounts for World’s 30% illiterate. The literacy rate of India as per 2001 Population Census is 65.38%, with male literacy rate at 75.96% and female at 54.28%. So what is wrong and where is it wrong?
Current Educational Problems in India
Inadequate, Improper distribution of Funds or Lack of it – Funds are the major reasons of the Education problem in India. If funds are available, they are not being used effectively. At times, the lack of funds hampers education and many times, the funds are just inadequate to solve the issue. According to a study, 30% of the total educational funds are allocated towards higher education leaving the primary education in lurch. The situation is worse in rural areas where funding is major problem as it fuels other problems like shortage of staff, lack of interest and motivation amongst teachers, insensitive attitude of the education department, lack of proper infrastructure and others. Lack of funds further create a lack of books and learning materials.
Ever Increasing Population – India is the second most populous country in the world. The population of India in 2011 is about 1.21 billion and it is still increasing and by the time you have finished listening this line, it will have increased more than what’s shown. And why, one minute equals to about 51 births in India (2011). India represents almost 17.31% of the world's population, which means 1 out of 6 people in this world live in India. With the population growth rate at 1.58%, India is predicted to have more than 1.53 billion people by the end of 2030. India’s Sex Ratio (2011) is 940 females per 1,000 males. In a country where the sex ratio favours females, it automatically translates into more number of illiterates. More than 50% of India's current population is below the age of 25. The individual population of some of its states is equal to the total population of many countries. Illiteracy of large population supports further illiteracy and poverty itself is a factor which encourages illiteracy.
Demand far exceeds the Supply – A classic case is that of shortage of teachers. The Student-Teacher Ratio is not balanced. Some of the rural schools have faculty which is not qualified enough which further degrades the quality of education. For example – if a classroom has 1 teacher and 50 students, the ratio is 1:50. This ratio is improper, for a single teacher to educate 50 students collectively is ineffective because it burdens the teacher and the every student will not get equal attention. It only defeats the objective of a school. The reason behind shortage of teachers is that a job Indian Education System is road filled with bumps and depressions. Teaching field is itself challenging and if more challenges are thrown in front of the struggling teachers, they will not only fret and fume, they will advice others to abstain from this field. The pay scales are low in many regions which discourages even the most motivated. Why would anyone go for a career like this? Only, the desperate ones or those whose main objective is to earn money; the objective of providing quality education takes a back seat. Financial factor, lack or absence of incentives and opportunities keeps even the efficient Indian educator away from this field. Top up these with poor or inadequate facilities at the school level breaks the spirit of the educators, making them selfish and restricting their creativity and talent. Also noteworthy is the inadequate funding by the government, which is only enough to provide basic education at the primary level. A large number of teachers refuse to teach in rural areas and those that do are usually are under qualified. Many teachers lack enthusiasm due to their meagre salary. Another obstacle faced by the schools is that obtaining more teachers because of state guidelines that approve of high student-teacher ratio. Lack of books and learning materials seem to be a widespread problem.
Faulty Education Policies – Earlier, it was the British education policy which served the British empire, today the education policy favours those who are rich and affluent. The majority of the Indian population is poverty stricken. Government Schools for these have a poor management and poor quality of education. Much of the quality education is provided by private schools affiliated to CBSE and CISCE whose curriculum is advanced and in conformity with the worldwide education system. Not all are able to afford these schools and are deprived of quality education. Education policies are also misused by Politicians who try to mould these to achieve their political motives. A glaring example is that of the BJPs influence to mould the syllabus of the schools. It was in 2000/01, that NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training ) issued a National Curriculum Framework for school education. Under this framework all foreign elements including those of the Britshers and moguls were removed. Textbooks were revised and these presented a distorted history. The revision presented an outlook of India as a Hindu nation painted with Religious and regional tones. There were protest against this Hindu-centric education and by 2004, the old books replaced the faulty books. But it didn’t hamper BJP and RSS’s in promoting about 13,000 institutions (RSS schools) which teaches that Hinduism is the source of all human wisdom. It has been cited in many news items that BJP dominated states are using the funds meant for government schools to run RSS schools.
Poverty and High Fees – Studies have shown that during 2004-2005, there was 58% drop-out rate amongst the students of classes - I to VIII. The Dropout rate for classes I-X was 62-64% for girls and 60% for boys. These rates are very high. The origin of these rates largely lie in Poverty. When earning money and taking care of family becomes a primary issue in one’s life, education stands a little or no chance of pursuance. Education for such is a luxury and it becomes useless when they see that even the educated are having tough time finding a job. Poverty struck people pass on a negative attitude towards education which continues on with every new generation. Plus, those who start earning money see it as the only motive of life and even after they were educated they would still be looking of work, so why not work now? When the student has cleared 10+2, high college fees become a hurdle for a majority. Let’s not forget the entrance exams which not only require entrance fees but hefty coaching fee in this competitive world.
Approach of Educators and Higher Authorities – When good results matter more than how they are achieved, it becomes clear that education is considered a mere formality and just a qualification. Result driven schools make it easy for students to pass the exams through various unfair means. Assistance during examinations, revealing answers to acquire minimum pass percentage for weak students, acceptance of bribes to favour certain students and other practices make the education system a hollow one. Add, to the fact that many teachers have acquired the post through unfair means. For them it is money and results whereas it should have been education, results and then money. Higher authorities too, take things casually as long as their pockets keep getting full. If acquiring employment and money are the objectives of a teacher, they cannot go beyond these motives, leave alone the development of education.
Non-involvement of Citizens – Indian citizens rarely raise their voice against issues and if they do, the motivation doesn’t last long. Unity becomes an issue when there are so many disparities amongst the Indian populace. These too are the effects of illiteracy. Uneducated people or less educated people have a low self esteem as they don’t have enough knowledge. They cannot raise their voices on things which they themselves aren’t confident about. Mass protests are more politically motivated than people motivated. Education authorities themselves don’t encourage participation of parents or common people whilst making and implementing education policies. Individual efforts are snubbed and mass participation is not guided properly.
Selfish and Ineffective Supervisory Bodies – If everyone else in the education department is serving his/her own selfish motive how can the Supervisory bodies be far? Selfishness itself propagates a chain of selfishness and corruption breeds corruption. This plague operates and propagates from higher to lower or lower to higher level. If the motives mentioned, exist at the teaching level, they can spread to administration level and vice versa. What emerges are curriculums as mentioned in ‘Faulty Education Policies’. What also emerges are other malpractices like inadequate supervision, obsolete education methods, misuse of funds, misuse of food items meant for children, old methods of evaluation and so on. A distinct practice came forth, when the AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) approved certain undeserving private engineering colleges purportedly set up by politicians. Where as they rejected internationally acclaimed education providers to set up their institute.
Political and Bureaucratic Involvement – Majority of the Politician and Bureaucrats have age which makes them senior citizens. Some of them are not educated, some are partially or have received ineffective education, some have reached this far because of their affluence and not ability. Thus, we have illiterate politicians handling education department, orthodox bureaucrats who are resistant to new ideas and experimentation. Education is Business for the Politicians and Manipulation Tool for bureaucrats. Seats are reserved for the likes of these, leaving deserving ones biting the dust. Selfish motives make them blind to achieve the more important nations motive. Power and control are great weapons and if those controlling it are selfish and corrupt, there is slim chance that they will be dethroned in short span of time.
Indifferent attitude of Rural Population – About 72.2% of the population lives in some 638,000 villages and the rest 27.8% in about 5,480 towns and urban agglomerations. Majority of the residents of these places are illiterate and severe gender, regional, and caste disparities exist in their societies. And even when a graduation degree doesn’t guarantee employment then the anti education attitude gets solidified. A common sarcastic comment amongst the rural is popular - ‘Are you going to become a DC (deputy commissioner) by studying?’ Children living in rural areas receive a level of education which is very poor, the outcome is then obvious. A large percent of dropouts are female children. They are forced by their parents to perform chores and tend the family at home. The lifestyle of villagers is largely dominated by culture and tradition whose outlook towards education is not favourable even for the boys. Traditional forms of occupational skills receive a higher repute as it brings income which is vital for survival. With other traditions, illiteracy also becomes a tradition.
The causes for the problems of education system in India are multifaceted and they themselves manifest more problems. It is a vicious cycle where some factors encourage another factors or are interdependent. This makes them even more lethal than they already are. Does this mean , that there is no solution to these problems. The answer, is – No! The answer is there but it is not just the answers but what the answers represent and the way they will be most effective by being multidimensional and self propagating just like the problems.
Solving Current Educational Problems in India
Population Control through various campaigns, awards and other incentives and increments to those who set an example in favour of population control.
Teachers need to be professionally trained, adequately paid and well-motivated.
India's entire education system should be redesigned to favour employment, nullify the poverty aspect and improve the quality of education on every level, especially the primary level.
Frequent curricular revisions, to remove and/or edit obsolete chapters and bring quality in education.
Accountability of Higher Authorities needs to be sensitised and effectively implemented through law and special courts which can provide speedy decisions. An independent regulatory authority can be established to remove discrepancies in the first place.
Aggressive Awareness Campaigns in Rural Areas to negate the negative attitude of the rural population.
Minimum Wages to Unemployed Educated Candidates.
Education Portfolio should be given to Education Experts.
The state university system should be expanded even more to provide educational opportunities to the rural people. Private sectors, contributions from philanthropists and industry should be encouraged.
An alternate examination process in the form of internal assessment can be set up, where students are evaluated by their teachers.