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India Has Five Times the Number of Schools than China: NITI Aayog Report

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    19th Nov, 2023

Context:

Recently released NITI Aayog report titled ‘Learnings from Large-scale Transformation in School Education’ has highlighted that India continues to have five times the number of schools than China for the same enrolment of students. 

Observations in the report:

  • Over 50 per cent of primary schools across many states in India have an enrolment of less than 60.
  • Problems identified:
    • The cost of such sub-scale schools in the form of extensive multi-grade teaching,
    • lack of a student and parent community that can demand account ability,
    • Poor infrastructure and
    • Less Teacher-student ratio.
  • When compared with China, in China are closing or merging because of tighter regulation, a slowing economy and dwindling foreign student numbers.
  • The report also has information about the efforts to develop leader schools.

Recommendations of the report:

  • The report suggested school mergers as a solution to addressing the lack of enrolments in schools.
    • As per the report, such solution has been executed across SATH-E states and has given favorable results in filling up the enrolments in schools. 
  • Apart from mergers, the states can also develop a set of large schools with at least 10-20 per cent spread across the state. These schools can be integrated K-12 schools and should provide transport so that all students can equitably access them. 
  • This has been recommended in the NEP too with the call to setup large school complexes. The report documents details for how school consolidation efforts were undertaken in all three Project SATH-E states and their learnings.

What are the Major Issues Related to the Education Sector in India?

  • Inadequate Infrastructure in Schools: According to the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) for 2019-20, only 12% of schools have internet facilities and 30% have computers.
    • About 42% of these schools lacked furniture, 23% lacked electricity, 22% lacked ramps for the physically disabled, and 15% lacked WASH facilities (which include drinking water, toilets, and hand wash basins).
  • High Dropout Rate: The dropout rate is very high in primary and secondary levels. Most of the students in 6-14 age groups leave the school before completing their education. It leads to wastage of financial and human resources.
    • According to the National Family Health Survey-5, not being interested in studies was the reason given by 21.4% of girls and 35.7% of boys aged between 6 to 17 years for dropping out of school before the 2019-20 school year.
  • Problem of Brain Drain: Due to cutthroat competition for getting admission in top institutes like IITs and IIMs, a challenging academic environment is created for a large number of students in India, so they prefer going abroad, that makes our country deprived of good talent.
  • Mass illiteracy: In spite of constitutional directives and efforts aimed at enhancing education, around 25% of Indians still remain illiterate, which also leaves them socially and digitally excluded.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), poverty and local cultural practices (female infanticide, dowry, and early marriage ) play a big role in gender inequality in education throughout India.

  • Lack of Adequate Attention to Indian Languages: Indian languages are still in an underdeveloped stage, the medium of instruction particularly in science subjects is English, resulting in unequal opportunities for rural students.
    • Also, standard publications are not available in the Indian language.
  • Lack of Technical and Vocational Education: Mainly, our educational system is of generalistic nature. Development of technical and vocational education is quite unsatisfactory, due to which the number of educated unemployed persons is increasing day by day.
  • Gender-Inequality: Despite the government's effort to ensure equality of opportunity for education for both men and women in our society, the literacy rate of women in India, especially in rural areas, still remains very poor.

Way forward:

  • Implementation of National Education Policy: The implementation of the NEP can help shake the education system from its slumber.
  • Moving away from the current 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system will bring the pre-school age group formally into the education set-up.
  • Education-Employment Corridor: India's educational setup needs to be enhanced by integrating vocational learning with mainstream education and providing right mentorship at school (especially in government schools) to ensure that students are guided in the right direction from the start and are aware of career opportunities.
  • Students in rural regions have great potential and are motivated to study but lack the right mentoring. This is required not just for the children but also for their parents that will in a way also reduce the gender gap in education.
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