Education & Rural India
Rural India has always remained a poor cousin to urban India. While urban economy in the country grew very fast in last 3 decades, rural India lagged behind. One of the many reasons for this is lack of quality education institutions in rural regions. This has resulted in pedagogy in these areas to be deficient and therefore children from these communities have consistently missed out being part of organized private sector, the one that has grown the best in last few years. One startling statistics is that majority of schools in India are in rural areas and 90% of all rural schools are government schools. The apathetic attitude of staff in these schools, in general, has not let the doors of a progressive future opened for students from these backgrounds.
When we look at what ails the school education in rural India, we find multiple factors in social, economic and infrastructural domain being responsible for it. One of the biggest issue is low enrolment of students in most of these schools. There are both social and economic reasons for the same. Traditionally there has been a deep rooted bias towards educated family member, as they are assumed to be less reverent to elders and not follow family traditions. This story has played out many times in literature and cinema and people tend to believe this notion. Also, the infrastructural issues faced by schools in rural areas in terms of proper building and equipment also affect the enrolment adversely. The problem in transportation coupled with schools located at a great distance in rural areas compel parents not to send their kids to the schools, thus keeping them devoid of education.
Another factor which impacts school education in rural areas is linked to the economic division. Unlike urban areas, rural areas have almost negligible middle class. There are either farmers with large land holdings or the ones with very small ones or an emerging category of farm labourers. While rich farmers can afford high fee and send their children to schools in nearby urban centers, it is not possible for the other two classes. Repeated surveys have found inadequacies of infrastructure and staff. Also, since they can’t afford high cost in private institutions, they end up not enrolling their kids beyond primary education.
The methods of teaching used in rural areas are still less developed with application of technology is nearly absent. Also, parents can’t visualise their kids to use education as a stepping stone in their journey towards prosperity due to inadequate counselling. The peer pressure to study is also missing in rural areas unlike urban areas. With employment opportunities being highly concentrated in very few industrial and commercial centres, parents and their wards can’t even see as to how can education impact their lives.
However, there have been efforts made by various governments to improve the infrastructural facilities in rural schools. Start of Diksha portal with live and recorded classes and tests is an initiative by NCERT to take excellent content to students all across India. Delhi government, which has initiated a number of educational initiatives, has been conducting age appropriate online classes and seminars. Multiple state governments have also used radio and TV to schedule classes for different grades at pre-decided times. Also pandemic has pushed the use of technology in rural areas.
Some NGOs like Pradeep Richa Educare Foundation (PREF) have also taken latest technology to some of the affected students. In a recent action, the foundation has provided a tab-based application to its selected students creating smart class opportunities for them. Actions like this and others bode well for the future of education in rural India.