A nation can progress in the true sense of the term when each and every child belonging to it has equal access to quality education that prepares the child for a bright future ahead. The Indian education system, catering to a population of 1.3 billion, has a long way to go when it comes to providing quality education to every single child in the country, especially from the disadvantaged classes and communities.
Although the school dropout rates have been decreasing, a large number of children are still out of school for various social and economic factors. While measures like, The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (2001) and The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act (2009) have been landmarks in the area of providing basic and primary education to all children, but these are yet to ensure that all the children are enrolled in schools, attending classes, and are moving on to the next level of education.
What is more alarming is the quality of education being received by a vast majority of children studying in government and private-aided schools. Barring a few good government-run schools, most public schools suffer from teacher absenteeism, lack of proper allocation of funds, under-utilization of resources, inability to prevent school dropouts, poorly trained teachers, low accountability, low levels of learning, and several other factors that prevent children in these schools to receive the high quality of education that are being provided by many private schools that mostly cater to economically stronger sections of the society. The ASER 2016 Education Report shows that there has been hardly any improvement since the year 2014 (from 19.6% in 2014 to 20% in 2016) in making computers available in most schools across India, except a few states.
It would be wrong to not bring into account those private schools, which satisfy the bare minimum criteria needed to be running as a school, and provide equally poor quality of education like most public schools and private-run schools.
So what is it that has been stopping most schools from being updated and upgraded so that children receive education that is at par with the 21st century world they live in? Why are a few international schools keeping up with high standards of school education that prepare children to compete worldwide? With so much of funds being allocated by the government bodies to the public school system, why aren’t these being used to providing children with a competent and skill-based education?
The factors are many and each region differs from the other with enrollment rates, dropout rates, learning levels, etc. but overall the school education system of India has not undergone vast improvements since long. The objective should not only be universal education but good quality universal education for all, irrespective of the economic and social background of the child. We need to pace up our work in ensuring that every child completes his/her school education and moves on to the next level, with skills that will help him/her survive in the world after school.
It is not only necessary to provide for basic infrastructure and sanitation facilities in schools, but more crucial to keep up with the contemporary times, and provide for education supported by updated technology. It is crucial for teachers to be trained in ICT, so that there is blended learning in classes, which attract students to school every day. A strong skill-based education that complements the theoretical learning in our schools will give a sense of purpose to the children and prepare them with the required life skills to make them more employable and ready for life after school.