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Primary Education in India: Evolution, Structure and Development Essay

Education is one of the major factors which control a nation’s economic and scientific growth. In the report, an attempt has been made to analyze the primary education system of India and how it has evolved over the course of history and affected various sections of the society. To create the report, various data sources, secondary research, surveys and government legislations were used and referred. The report charts the evolution of the Indian education system in an attempt to understand the reasons behind the present condition of the system.

A description of the features of the public education system and low cost private schooling system in India, both in terms of quantity and quality, has been provided with the help of various data sources and secondary research. It was found that the literacy rates, especially in the younger age groups, for both boys and girls are on an upward trend. However, the increase in literacy rates and education provided has not been uniform in various sections of society as well as various states.

Similarly, literacy rates for girls, rural residents, and members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes also lag behind those for boys, urban residents and the upper castes. Public expenditure on education in India has been rising over time and the government initiatives have resulted in a 9% increase in the literacy rate from 2001 to 2011. An analysis of the schooling system shows the growth in the literacy rates of the country since Independence and how it parallels with the increase in initiatives by the Indian government.

It reflects non-uniform growth and disparity in the education imparted with respect to various sections, castes, gender and states in the country. The report also aims to increase the understanding of different perspectives and alternatives to the present system of primary schooling and education in the country. 2. INTRODUCTION Primary education is the foundation on which the development of every country is built on. In every country in the world, education is acknowledged as a tool for development and prosperity.

Education is viewed as an intrinsically valuable commodity and a means to economic and social wellbeing of an individual as well as an entire nation. ? Most developed nations in the world also possess a sound primary and secondary education system. In the past few decades, the government of India has focused on provision of more schools ‘quantity’ and not on the ‘quality’. Various studies shown in the report will demonstrate that the percentage of ‘functionally literates’ is very low and the inadequacy of basic facilities and lack of infrastructure in schools.

Government’s continuous efforts in the form of programs like ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, DPEP, Mid-Day meals can be credited to achieve the above objectives. Literacy Rate of India has had an increase of 62% since independence, but individual literacy rates of various states show significant variations. In 2011, 95% population of 7+ of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were literate, while Bihar had a literacy rate of 63. 25% with a female literacy rate of 33. 6%. The results of the surveys conducted show that some states are ‘educationally more advanced’ than others.

India’s primary education has evolved from the traditional schools to the modern classroom. This has given the opportunity to the masses to get educated. New modern education also exposes the world and provides adequate infrastructure for an integrated learning environment. India’s literacy rates have increased from 12. 0% to 74. 04% in 2011 and although the male-female literacy rate gap is still 24. 1%, it has decreased over the last decade by 10%. The number of primary schools has increased three-fold from 209,671 to 664,041 and now 90% population has a school within 1 kilometer.

While critics argue that the primary education system of India is not as advanced as the system in most developed countries, it is bound to become one of the fastest growing and most effective systems in the world in the near future due to the strong policies made by the government and the rapid growth of the alternative schooling system. 3. HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF PRIMARY SCHOOLING IN INDIA ? In the pre-British era, education in India commenced under the supervision of a guru in traditional schools called gurukuls.

Historically and traditionally, India had predecessors to the modern system of higher education at Nalanda, Takshashila and Ujjain Universities where Science, Art, Economics, Politics, Law, and Medicine were the few early subjects that were taught. The British came to India in the second half of the millennium and by the late 19th and early 20th century, they were successful and instrumental in creating a proper schooling system with primary and secondary education which has been followed by the Indian state ever since. After India gained independence in 1947, education became the responsibility of the states.

The Central Government’s only obligation was to co-ordinate in technical and higher education and specified standards. This continued till 1976, when the education became a joint responsibility of the state and the Centre.? In 1976, education was made a joint responsibility of the states and the Centre through a constitutional amendment Center is represented by Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Department of Education and together with the states, it is jointly responsible for the formulation of education policy and planning.

The 86th Amendment of the Indian constitution makes education a fundamental right for all children aged 6-14 years. When India gained independence, the literacy rate was as low as 12% but has been growing ever since. Even though the literacy rate rose to 74% in the 2011 census which also translated into economic growth, there’s still a long way to go. In recent past, India has made great progress in terms of increasing primary education enrolment, attendance rate, retention and expanding literacy to approximately two thirds of the population.

Figures released by the Indian government in 2011 show that there were 5,816,673 elementary school teachers in India. As of March 2012 there were 2,127,000 secondary school teachers in India. Education has also been made free for children for 6 to 14 years of age or up to class VIII under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. There have been several efforts to enhance quality made by the government. The District Education Revitalization Programme (DERP) was launched in 1994 with an aim to universalize primary education in India by reforming and vitalizing the existing primary education system.

85% of the DERP was funded by the central government and the remaining 15 percent was funded by the states. 4. STRUCTURE OF THE GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS The main types of schools are those controlled by State government boards The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) International schools. These schools try to copy the schools in the West in pattern and syllabus and are considerably more expensive than regular schools. Overall, according to the latest Government Survey undertaken by NUEPA (DISE, 2010-11), there are over 1 million schools.

Expenditure on Education in India Expenditure on education is on a rise. The Indian budget has provided Rs. 34,400 crores to the educational sector in India. It is an increase of 20% over previous year. In 2004 expenditure on education stood at 3. 52% of the GDP and in the eleventh plan it is estimated to be around 4% while it should be at least 6% of GDP. The District Information System for Education (DISE) reported in 2012 that 95% of India’s rural populations are within one kilometer of primary schools.

The 2011 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), which tracks trends in rural education, indicated that enrollment rates among primary-school-aged children were about 93%, with little difference by gender. However, behind the veil of such promising statistics, the learning outcomes of India’s children show little progress. The country ranked 63 out of 64 in the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, with some of its best schools ranked about average among those surveyed. The 2011 ASER stated that only 48. 2% of students in the fifth grade can read at the second grade level.

The number of students completing their primary education with inadequate numeracy and literacy skills is startling. To see this manifest in an economic sense, one may attribute India’s productivity growth — lagging behind that of East Asian economies — to a lack of progress in the foundational elements of countrywide, high-quality education. India’s private-schooled, English-speaking urban elite may attract global attention, but they are in the minority. The vast majority of Indian children attend government-run primary schools in rural areas.

In 2008-2009, rural India accounted for more than 88% of India’s primary-school students, of whom over 87% were enrolled in government-run schools. This is where we see some of the nation’s challenges. “The destiny of India is now being shaped in her classrooms. ” (Education Commission, 1964-66. ) This statement rings true half a century later.? While the development planners rightly recognized that expansion of educational facilities has to be accompanied with improvements in quality and relevance of education at all levels, the outcome is different at different places in the country.

5. THE INDIAN SOCIETY AND ITS ROLE IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM 5. 1 Socio-economic disparities Despite the strong constitutional backing for the provision of primary education in India and its expansion over time, the system is characterized not only by low achievements but also by large unevenness of achievements. Differences remain between rural and urban areas, and the probability of getting any education at all sharply depends on gender, caste and income. Women, scheduled castes and tribes and the poor are faced with barriers when it comes to getting basic education.

Of the 200 million children in the age group 6-14, it is estimated that 59 million are out of school. Of these 35 million are girls and 24 million are boys (Ministry of Human Development, GOI). Apart from socio-economic determinants, the educational infrastructure and the management and the governance of the educational system in India are far from efficient or sufficient. The government is the largest provider of education in India with only about10% of primary schools owned by the private sector.

The quality of education provided by the public education system is low which translates into low educational abilities even for those who are able to complete primary education cycle. Moreover, there is a lot of ‘waste’ in the educational system with dropout rates as high as 40% for the country as a whole and in some Indian states, they are as high as 75%. Though the number of primary schools in the country increased, more than 1 lakh habitations still do not have access to a primary school within a distance of one kilometer.

Teacher-pupil ratios are inadequate: less than 2 teachers are available in rural areas to teach a class size of around 100 students. Teacher motivation and teaching incentives are also very weak. 5. 2 Rural-Urban and Gender Disparities Perhaps, the largest disparity in educational attainment in India is by rural-urban location. While there has been some catching up in literacy rates for both males and females between rural and urban areas, the differences continue to be unacceptably large, especially for females. The child sex ratio also has a major impact on the disparity of the education imparted.

Haryana, where the child sex ratio is decreasing, also sees the maximum amount of disparity when it comes to gender inequality of education. Only 46% of females in rural areas were literate as opposed to nearly 73% in urban areas in 2001, a gap of around 27 percentage points. For males, the gap was lower at around 15% percentage points with 71. 18% of males in rural areas and 86. 42% in urban areas being literate in 2001. However, school attendance has been rising for both girls and boys at the elementary school level in both rural and urban areas.

The following table shows school attendance for boys and girls in the 614 years age category in 1992-93 and 1998-99 for rural and urban areas. Fewer girls attend school in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts, and also compared to boys in rural areas. The proportion of girls attending schools, however, has increased from 59% to 70% between the years under comparison. School Attendance (%), age 6-14 years 1992-93 Female Rural Urban Total 52 79 59 Male 72 85 75. 5 1998-99 Female 70 86 74 Male 81 89 83.

While participation of girls in education has seen an increase over time at all levels of education, it continues to lag behind that of boys. Even in 2001-2002, girls’ enrolment remains below 50% of total enrolment at the primary school level. This is true of girls’ enrolment at all levels of education, though they have been increasing at levels beyond the primary as well. The table above provides enrolment data, which only takes into account entry into the school system and not attendance or retention, which as we have noted above was 73% for females compared to 79% for males.

Moreover, if we view statistics for India as a whole, the numbers hide considerable variations. According to the Indian Census of 2001, of the 593 districts in India, 309 districts had (total) female literacy rates lower than the national average and 324 districts had a gender gap in (total) literacy rates that was greater than the national average. The gender gap in education is mostly due to entrenched gender norms, especially in the states of the north, where girls are married off at very young ages and exogamy in marriage means that any benefits of investment in education of girls will be captured by the household after marriage.

This reduces parental incentives in the education of girls. The gender gap in education perhaps reaches its apogee in the North-western state of Rajasthan which can be seen as illustrative of what plagues gender equity in education in India as a whole. According to the 1991 Census, Rajasthan had 7 million children of primary school going age of which only 52. 8% attended school. Moreover, among girls the attendance rate was only 37. 4%. The drop out rate from the primary school system was as high as 55%.

A large fraction of out of school children were girls. Among scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the literacy rates for women were as low as 9% and 7% respectively. Thus, gender and caste attitudes have resulted in severe gender inequity in education in Rajasthan. These social attitudes are reproduced officially rendering them invisible, further compounding the low status of women in Rajasthan. 5. 3 Scheduled Castes and Tribes Membership in castes continues to exert a powerful influence on the attainment of socio-economic well being for people in India.

This is reflected in almost all the social and economic development indicators for scheduled castes and tribes in India vis-a-vis the rest of the population. Scheduled tribes do worse than scheduled castes and girls belonging to scheduled castes and tribes do much worse than boys belonging to scheduled castes and tribes. At the primary school level, most boys are now enrolled in schools and the percentage of girls enrolled has also improved over time, though it continues to lag in certain states. One of the tables in the appendix provides enrolment ratios for boys and girls belonging to scheduled castes for 1997-98.

Enrolment ratios for boys are above 100% for all states. However, drop-out rates for boys and girls belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are higher than average. In the case of scheduled tribes, nearly 64% of boys and 70% of girls drop out before completing primary school (MHRD, 1994). 6. THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SYSTEM Education is one of the most important parameters that can lead a country to a more sustained growth trajectory. The effect of education increases more in a country like India with over 1billion people.

It should be noted that till 1976 in India, education was a ‘state subject’ . Post 1976 even the central government got involved in the process but the state could still enact laws modifying those passed by the central government. This implies that the primary responsibility for education lies with the state government. It may be noted that while expenditure on primary education may be nominal or even zero, especially in rural areas, the opportunity cost of education can be high which is why many households in the rural areas are reluctant to send their children to school.

They see them as earning members of their families right from their childhood. In 2001-2002, India spent about 4% of its GDP on education, which is less than the proposed 6%. The following table shows government expenditure on education (all levels) as a ratio of expenditure on all sectors as well as percentage of GDP. From above, it is clear that elementary education was ignored by the government and more emphasis were given to secondary and tertiary education but at the start of the 21st century elementary education was finally given its due importance by allocation of more money.

Elementary education is financed almost completely by the government – central, state and local – and government funds account for 99% of all recurring expenditure in elementary education. The District Primary Education Program(DPEP) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) are two large scale programs undertaken by the government of India to provide primary and upper primary education to all the citizens of India. 6.

1 District Primary Education Program (DPEP) The Government of India launched the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) in 1994 with the aim to attain the goal of universal elementary education. The objectives of the program are: • To provide access to all children to primary education through formal primary schools or its equivalent through alternatives • To reduce overall dropouts at the primary level less than 10 percent • To increase achievement levels by 25 percentage points over and above the measured baseline levels • To reduce disparities of all types to less than 5 percent.

The criteria to identify districts under the programme are: • Educationally ward districts with female literacy below the national average • Districts where TLC(Total Literacy Campaigns) have been successful leading to enhanced demand for primary education (Department of Education: 1993). When the program was launched in 1994, it covered forty-two districts in seven states, namely Assam, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Later, it was extended to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Currently, the program covers 176 districts in 15 states of India.

These states together have 60% of the child population in India. Another 60-65 districts are slated be brought into the DPEP fold. DPEP is a centrally sponsored scheme with the central government providing 85% of funds and the state government providing the remaining 15%. The share of the central government comes from external assistance from bilateral and multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, IDA, DFID, EC, UNICEF and the government of Netherlands. In the first phase of DPEP, 1,60,000 teachers were trained, 4,500 new schools, 5,000 class rooms were constructed and 14,400 toilet and water facilities provided.

According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA, 1998a), between 19931994 and 1996-1997, enrollment rates in DPEP districts increased by more than in non-DPEP districts. In many of the DPEP districts, primary school enrollment of girls increased at a higher rate than that for boys. Of the additional 6, 30,000 children enrolled in 39 of the 42 phase I DPEP districts between 1995-6 and 1996-7, 51. 5% were girls. Another NIEPA study (NIEPA, 1998b), found that among the DPEP phase I states, the highest enrollment increase of 35. 6 % was in Assam followed by Haryana (15.9%) and Maharashtra (14. 6%) in 1996-97.

The national average was 9. 4 per cent. In 1997-98, the highest increase in enrollment was in Madhya Pradesh (10. 5%). 6. 2 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) The central government launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universal Elementary Education) in 2001. The goal of SSA was to provide meaningful and quality education to all children between the ages 6-14 by 2010. It is an umbrella plan for elementary education in India and includes the DPEP. SSA is a response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country and an opportunity for promoting social justice through basic education.

It is a partnership between central, state and the local government. Objectives of SSA • All children should be in school, Education guarantee centre, alternative school or back to school camp by 2005. • All children in the state complete five years of primary schooling by 2007. • All children complete eight years of schooling by 2010. • Focus should be made on Elementary emphasis on education for life in the state. Education of satisfactory quality with • Bridge all gender and social category gaps at the primary stage by 2007 and at the elementary level by 2010 in the state.

• Universal retention of children by 2010. The financial obligation by the government towards SSA has been estimated to be an additional Rupees 6,000 million over the next ten years to be shared by the central and state governments. Unlike the DPEP, the SSA is a program that is entirely domestically funded and does not rely on external resources. The funds for the SSA are allocated from the Union Budget. Secondly, the SSA is an initiative of the Central government, even though education in India is largely the responsibility of state governments.

6.3 Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) It is the largest noon meal programme in the world. It covered about 10. 46 crore children of primary and upper primary classes in 11. 92 lakh govt. aided, local body, and NCLP Schools as well as Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS). Rs 48000 crores allocated for the program me during the 11th five year plan; Rs 38,000 crores spent so far. The benefits of MDMS are: • Preventing classroom hunger • Promoting school participation • Facilitating healthy growth of children • Intrinsic educational value • Fostering social equality • Enhancing gender

equity • Psychological Benefits The nutritional norm for upper primary stage was fixed at 700 Calories and 20 grams of protein. Midday meal scheme is an important step forward in improving both the education and health outcomes of children in India and greater effort and funds should be channeled in improving its quality and implementation. 7. QUALITY AND QUANTITY India has complex social structure where economic, social and gender disparities are present. Providing education to the masses keeping in mind disparities in the Indian society has been the goal of the government since independence.

In India there is an emphasis on provision of more schools (‘quantity’) and providing easy access to these institutes. ‘Quantity’ of an education system can be defined as the measure of physical access to schools. Under ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ the government aims to ensure that every person in India has a school within one kilometer of his/her residence and is given free primary education. This is to ensure that in rural and tribal areas where resources people have are limited, have easy access to school. Between 1950-51 and 2011-2012, the number of primary schools increased from 209,671 to 664,041, which is more than a three-fold increase.

Eighty-four percent of Indian population now has a primary school within one kilometer and local government or local bodies run ninety percent of these schools. ‘Quality’ of an education system is a measure of school supplies, level of teaching and basic amenities provided by the school.

Low quality education system indicates that students who have completed primary school are not functionally literate and numerate. In Maharashtra, Community based surveys of 28 cities and 8 rural districts in 2003 found that 30% students were able to read basic texts and perform basic arithmetic according to a report by A. K. Bannerjee in 2001. The Probe team in 1999 reported similar results in Northern states.

A study of two districts of Madhya Pradesh by Leclercq in 2002 found that only 27% students were able to read texts fluently. Thus, while increase in literacy rates are significant, the numbers may be misleading and do not show the ‘functional literacy rates’. The infrastructure in schools is an important measure of the ability of the education institution to impart ‘quality’ education to students. Most schools do not have classrooms large enough to accommodate all students.

The Probe Report in 1999 found that there are as many 40-50 students in a class with its seating capacity of only 25 on an average. The low figures of 25 in schools in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh do not indicate adequate resources, but low attendance in the schools. School structures also lack basic facilities like running water and toilets. A study showed that in Uttar Pradesh, 54% schools did not have running water and 86% schools did not have toilets (World Bank, 1997). Grover and Singh (2002) in their study of two districts of Tamil Nadu found that out of twentyfive schools only two had toilets.

The non-availability of these basic facilities reduces student attendance, as the students have to return to their home to use these basic facilities. The lack of separate toilets for boys and girls also influences parent’s incentives to send their daughters to school. The quality of education provided is most affected by the teachers in the institute. Teacher availability in rural areas is very low. A report by a NGO (CSO 2001) shows that 80% teachers in rural areas apply for transfer to urban areas. This has led to severe imbalance in distribution of resources between the two areas. This reflects on the student-teacher ratio.

India has a student to teacher ratio of 43, which is almost, double the ratio observed in developed countries. Moreover, most rural schools (almost 45%) are single or two-teacher schools, there is multi-grade teaching, which reduces the quality of education even further and is not shown by pupil-teacher ratios. There is little check on teacher accountability and teacher attendance reported is also low. In many schools, a lot of teaching time is devoted to do paperwork than actual teaching. In rural areas, Opening and closing times of the school deviate from the administrative fixed timings according to the whims of the teachers.

The Grover and Singh report (2002) found that schools were often unexpectedly closed during rain, excessive heat, or agriculture peak period and for cultural reasons like marriages. This finally leads to irregular attendance and poor quality of education. Teacher qualification is an important parameter in the education system. In Tamil Nadu, The Grover and Singh report found that 85% teachers had adequate qualifications and 2 years of training for High school education, but this is not the case in other states like UP, Bihar and Rajasthan.

Teacher training programs are also not designed for the reality of environment and the constraints under which teaching actually takes place. There is no focus on single-teacher schools where a teacher has to teach multiple grades and handle administration. The program also does not sensitize teachers for economic and social disparities, which are characteristic to the Indian scenario. Stronghold of teacher-unions has further reduced teacher accountability. In 2002, 457 allegations were registered against teachers and principals for ‘corruption’.

This includes miss-use of school funds, recruitment of friends and relatives as teachers and ‘selling’ important positions in the school by bribes and social connections. Teacher apathy comes out very strongly in small surveys carried out by various research teams all over India. PROBE (1999) team reports that there was no teaching happening in half of the sample schools the team visited and the problem further compounded by poor infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and lack of teaching materials.

A research conducted by Grover and Singh in 2002 reported that in 70% of schools in Madurai and Villupuram in Tamil Nadu, no instruction was taking place. In Madhya Pradesh, management has been decentralized to village level bodies like Gram Panchayat to improve administration according to the regional needs. Alternate schools also report social differentiation and inequality in schools . Social differentiation on the basis of caste was always present in India, and the above reform has alleviated the problem. This is observed especially in the areas where students belong to a ‘lower’ social caste and teachers belong to the dominant caste.

This increases the problem of low enrollment, dropout rates and parental apathy towards public schools. World Bank’s study of 1997, estimated 45% girl and 42% boy dropout rate before class five. The All-India rate is 40% highlighting that dropout is still a major problem in Public education system. The dropout rate of girls is always higher than boys (Except Karnataka) and in five states UP, Bihar, Rajasthan West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh; dropout rates are more than 50%. Corporal punishment is reported to be practiced in both rural and urban schools.

Psychologists say no matter how serious the offence, beating should not be allowed. It leaves a very serious trauma on the student’s mind. In 2011, 40 cases were registered in Delhi of corporal punishment. The worst aspect is that almost 90% of the cases go unreported as parents too think it must be their child’s mistake and that’s why he/she must have been administered a beating. It was seen as an acceptable form of punishment by the society until 2000, when the Supreme Court banned it in all schools. There have been many cases in which students have lost their lives because of corporal punishment.

In 2010, a nine-year old girl, Piya Chaudhary died of due to cancer arising out of injuries inflicted on her head by a schoolteacher. In 2012, Aslam Ansari died after thrashing by his teachers in Madhya Pradesh. Every year, numerous children die due to corporal punishment in schools. This reflects the quality of education and teacher apathy. 8. LOW COST PRIVATE SCHOOLS VS GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS One of the major movements that have come up in India and other developing countries is the system of low-cost private schools which are accessible by the masses.

The affordable or low-cost private school system which basically consists of private schools where monthly student fees varies from Rs 100-Rs 750 ( 2 US$ to 15US$) is gaining momentum worldwide and helps poor families in having a say in their children’s education and future. . In a UNDP survey across 10 major cities of the developing world, however, as many as 75 per cent of students were attending private schools, paying fees of less than US$10 a month. ? These schools serve as alternatives to the age-old system of public schooling in the developing countries in the world.

The various differences between public schooling and low-cost private schooling will be studied with the case of Indian schooling system as the focal point. India lives in its villages and the primary education system in most villages is below par. The country aims for a 6% allocation of the GDP dedicated to the education sector of the country but hasn’t been able to put it into practice as of now. It is often very difficult to quantify growth and learning of a student and distinguish between the overall performances of students of public and private schools.

The parameters and benchmarks are very subjective. The quality or effectiveness of the low-fee private schools is very difficult to gauge especially in India when it’s still in the nascent stages. There is no comparable measure of learning achievement in private and public schools Test scores and literacy rates along with passing percentage are one of the few criterions to work with. The relative cost of private and public schools, where the focus is on the monthly cost of teaching each student. The major chunk of the expenditure goes on salaries.

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