Indian education system today boasts of being the 2nd largest in the world where 85% of habitations and 94% of population has a primary school within the distance of 1 kms. Also, more than 90% of rural schools at elementary level are being run by the government. Overall, enrollment numbers remain very high. Over 96% of all children in the age group 6 to 14 years are enrolled in school.
A look at the quality of education in the rural schools after all the infrastructure developments shows a dismal picture. According to the latest ASER (Annual Status of Education Report ( Rural) 2012) compiled and facilitated by Pratham:
- 53.2% children in Std. V could not read a Std. II level text.
- 61.3% children enrolled in Std. III cannot read a Std. I level text
- 46.5% children enrolled in Std. V could not solve simple two-digit subtraction problems with borrowing.
- Three fourth children in Std. V could not do simple division.
- Based on RTE norms, the number of schools in rural areas meeting pupil teacher ratio is only 42.8% in 2012.
- Children are progressing in primary classes on the account of the policy of non-detention.
However the public education system in rural areas has improved in the infra-related areas as reported by ASER:
- Over 96% of all children in the age group 6 to 14 years are enrolled in school.
- 73% of all schools visited had drinking water available. However, just under 17% did not have drinking water facility at all. A water facility was available, though not usable in the remaining schools.
- The proportion of schools without toilets has reduced from 12.2% in 2011 to 8.4% in 2012 and the proportion of schools with useable toilets has increased from 47.2% in 2010 to 56.5% in 2012.
- Approximately 80% of schools visited had separate provision for girls’ toilets. Of schools which had this separate provision, close to half had useable girls’ toilets, as compared to a third in 2010.
- The mid-day meal was observed being served in 87.1% schools that were visited.
Post independence governments focus has been setting up infrastructure followed by enrollments of children in schools, however quality of education is one area which still has to be looked at. Despite various initiatives quality of education especially in the rural areas has been an area of concern. There are many reasons given with respect to the quality of education, primary being the following:
- Social inequalities of caste, class and gender and this context governs the access, retention and achievement levels of school going children.
- Lack of skilled workforce in the rural education center.
- Access to exposure, proper training and development facilities.
- Growth prospects in comparison to the urban counterparts.
Through the Bachpan Banao Fellowship the above mentioned issues are being addressed so as to improve the quality of education in rural areas.