Contemporary challenges in education sector in India
Inadequate government Funding: The country spent 3% of its total GDP on education in 2018-19 according to the Economic Survey which is very less in comparison to the developed and OECD countries.
Pandemic impact: Some 23.8 million additional children and youth (from pre-primary to tertiary) may drop out or not have access to school next year.
As per ASER Report 2020, 5% of rural children are not currently enrolled for the 2020 school year, up from 4% in 2018.
This difference is the sharpest among the youngest children (6 to 10) where 5.3% of rural children had not yet enrolled in school in 2020, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
Digital Divide: There is a major digital divide within the country across states, cities and villages, and income groups (National Statistical Organisation Survey on Digital Education Divide). Nearly 4% of rural households and 23% of urban households possessed computers and 24% of the households in the country had internet access.
Quality of Education: Only 16% of children in Class 1 can read the text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters. only 50 per cent of Grade 5 children being able to read a grade 2 text. (ASER Report findings.
Lack of infrastructure: Most of the schools are not yet compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure. They lack drinking water facilities, a functional common toilet, and do not have separate toilets for girls.
Inadequate teachers and their training: The 24:1 ratio of India is way lower than Sweden’s 12:1, Britain’s 16:1, Russia’s 10:1 and Canada’s 9:1. Moreover the quality of teachers who are sometimes appointed politically or are not trained adequately is another huge challenge.
Falling share of Government school enrolment: The proportion of India’s children attending a government school has now declined to 45 per cent; this number is 85 per cent in America, 90 per cent in England, and 95 per cent in Japan.
Too many schools: We have too many schools and 4 lakh have less than 50 students (70 per cent of schools in Rajasthan, Karnataka, J&K, and Uttarakhand). China has similar total student numbers with 30 per cent of our school numbers.
Huge dropout numbers: The drop-out rates in schools, especially girls, is very high. Many factors like poverty, patriarchal mindset, lack of toilets in schools, distance to schools and cultural elements lead to children dropping out from education. COVID creates new urgency; reports suggest 25 per cent of Haryana private school students may have dropped out this year due to parental financial challenges.