Challenges for Education in India
India is a large country with remarkable diversity among its population of 1.3 billion which makes up about 17% of the world’s population. This population is also one of the youngest in the world. Almost 70% of its citizenry is rural. Education in India comprises of government, government aided and private institutions, more than half of which are operated by government agencies. With the high population growth rate, there is tremendous pressure on the education system to provide quality education at affordable price and improve the literacy rate.
Basis the 2011 census, literacy rate in India was 74.04%. As a result decades of campaigns, the youth literacy rate became 9% higher than the adult literacy rate. Though this certainly is an achievement considering the socio-economic challenges, it is still a matter of concern that so many people in India can’t even read and write. The percentage of children who do not get education especially in the rural areas is still quite high. Though the government has made a law that every child under the age of 14 should get free education, the problem of illiteracy is still large.
There are multiple challenge that the country faces in fulfilling its commitments to universal education. The two primary challenges which affect the outcome in this area are :
1.Gender gap in education
2.High fee in private schools
If we consider female literacy rate in India, then it is lower than the male literacy rate as many parents do not allow their female child to go to schools. They get married off at a young age instead. Though child marriage has been lowered to a great extent, it still happens. Many families, especially in rural areas believe that having a male child is better than having a baby girl. So the male child gets all the benefits, including enrolment to better educational facilities. Today, the female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% where the male literacy rate is over 80%. This gender gap in literacy rate in India has always been a matter of concern.
Another fact that is unique to most developing countries is the role of private schools in providing education. In India, almost 50% of students are enrolled in private schools. These schools play a major role in filling the gaps remaining in the public education network. The last mile issues faced in reaching school education to the underserved areas is at times helped by private individuals operating small schools. However, as the cost of these schools and study material then has to be borne by the parents, a number of students from families in lower economic strata are left out of the education sphere.
There are many other factors that adversely affect the reach of universal education in India. These include high rate of drop outs, quality of education, lack of teacher training facilities and continuation of an old curriculum that most of the times is out of sync with the current requirements. However, there are consistent efforts by various governments in the direction to improve the outcomes in educational sector. A number of private individuals and NGOs have also been making efforts to overcome these problems and provide access to education to all. Pradeep Richa Educare Foundation (PREF) is one such organisation working in eastern Uttar Pradesh to nurture and guide selected students so that they reach their true potential and have a successful professional life wherein they become self-sufficient and set examples for others.