Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central,state, and local. Taxila was the earliest recorded centre of higher learning in India from at least 5th century BCE and it is debatable whether it could be regarded a university or not. The Nalanda University was the oldest university-system of education in the world in the modern sense of university. Western education became ingrained into Indian society with the establishment of the British Raj.
Education in India falls under the control of both the Union Government and the states, with some responsibilities lying with the Union and the states having autonomy for others. The various articles of the Indian Constitution provide for education as a fundamental right. Most universities in India are controlled by the Union or the State Government. India has made progress in terms of increasing primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately two thirds of the population.  India’s improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of India.
 Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions. The private education market in India is merely 5%[ although in terms of value is estimated to be worth $40 billion in 2008 and will increase to $68–70 billion by 2012. However, India continues to face stern challenges. Despite growing investment in education, 25% of its population is still illiterate; only 15% of Indian students reach high school, and just 7% graduate.
The quality of education whether at primary or higher education is significantly poor as compared with major developing nations. As of 2008, India’s post-secondary institutions offer only enough seats for 7% of India’s college-age population, 25% of teaching positions nationwide are vacant, and 57% of college professors lack either a master’s or PhD degree As of 2011, there are 1522 degree-granting engineering colleges in India with an annual student intake of 582,000, plus 1,244 polytechnics with an annual intake of 265,000.
However, these institutions face shortage of faculty and concerns have been raised over the quality of education.  In India education system is not based on pure merit, but its based on caste based reservations. In universities/Colleges/Institutions affiliated to federal government there is minimum 50% of reservations applicable to various castes. At state level it varies. State of Andhra Pradesh has 83. 33% of reservations as on 2012 ,which is highest percentage of reservations in India. So the state is popularly known as the state that killed merit.
PRIMARY EDUCATION SYSTEM IN INDIA The Indian government lays emphasis to primary education up to the age of fourteen years (referred to as Elementary Education in India. ) The Indian government has also banned child labour in order to ensure that the children do not enter unsafe working conditions. However, both free education and the ban on child labour are difficult to enforce due to economic disparity and social conditions. 80% of all recognized schools at the Elementary Stage are government run or supported, making it the largest provider of education in the Country.
[pic] However, due to shortage of resources and lack of political will, this system suffers from massive gaps including high pupil to teacher ratios, shortage of infrastructure and poor levels of teacher training. 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 state The DERP, which had opened 160000 new schools including 84000 alternative education schools delivering alternative education to approximately 3. 5 million children, was also supported by UNICEF and other international programmes.
This primary education scheme has also shown a high Gross Enrollment Ratio of 93–95% for the last three years in some states. Significant improvement in staffing and enrollment of girls has also been made as a part of this scheme. The current scheme for universalization of Education for All is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which is one of the largest education initiatives in the world. Enrollment has been enhanced, but the levels of quality remain low. CONCERNS FOR QUALITY EDUCATION As far as the provision of access and coverage is concerned, India today boasts of its educational system being the second largest in the world.
It consists of nearly 610 thousand primary and 185 thousand upper primary schools, about a quarter million nonformal education centers, about 1. 87 million teachers and 110 million students study in primary classes in the recognized schools (1997-98). As per 1991 Census estimates there were about 115. 6 million children in primary school going age group in the country2. The latest educational statistics indicate a GER of 89. 7 percent for primary classes (81. 2 percent being for girls and 97. 7 percent for boys).
3 . The number of students in primary classes in India is larger than the total population of the neighboring Bangladesh THE STATE OF QUALITY OF PRIMARY EDUCATION IN INDIA The key concern about education, in any formal educational system, of all time, has been its quality. Every stake holder, direct or indirect, of education is concerned about its quality. Guardians or parents, irrespective of their socio-economic status, want to educate their children with best quality education which would add better value to the degrees their wards acquire subject to the budget constraints.
But what do we mean by ‘quality education? How this quality is being assessed? What is the status of the quality of education in India? This paper seeks to focus on these issues with respect to the quality of primary education in India. There is no universally accepted definition for ‘quality of education’. In education, perception of quality is around students (Mukhopadhyay, 2001). The performance of the students like examination results, learning achievements, ability to apply learned knowledge in practical life– exhibit the quality of an education.
For some, “Quality of education” means value addition in education (Feigenbaum 1951); excellence in education (Peters and Waterman 1982); for others, fitness of education outcomes and experience for use (Juran and Gryna 1988). For a society, “excellence” and “value” are most appropriate indicators for quality education. A generally accepted definition of quality education does not exist and different end users adopt different criteria for determining the quality of education. In this study we measure the quality of primary education on the basis of student learning achievement (i. e. , ability of read, write and do mathematics).
PRIMARY EDUCATION :UNIVERSILITY VS QUALITY: The universal declaration of human rights (1948) considered primary education as the basic human right of all people. Accordingly, all nations prioritized universal access to education. The developed and developing countries have attained universal or near universal access to primary education. Now the focus is on the quality of student learning. The quality concern is not uniform across the nations. The developing and poor nations are still striving for expansion of educational access. It has been established that access to education and its quality are not sequential elements.
At the sub-regional meeting of South Asian Ministers in Katmandu in April 2001, quality education was unanimously identified as a priority area. All participants were in agreement that there was an urgency to develop the quality of education to meet the intermediate target and education for all by 2015. Because how well pupil are taught and how much they learn can have a crucial impact on how long they stay in school and how regularly they attend. Further whether parents send their children to school at all is likely to depend on the judgment they make about the quality of teaching and learning.
Based on this perception parents decide whether attending school is worth the time and cost for their children and for themselves. The World Bank (1997) suggested that ‘the best way to improve access is to improve quality which would make coming to school or staying in school a more attractive option from the perspective of parents as well as children. Moreover, efforts to improve quality will tend to increase the efficiency of the public expenditure and will encourage parents to contribute children education’. In the year 1950, when the Constitution of India was adopted, education was recognized as a basic individual right.
Directive Principles of State Policy, Article 45, states that “the state shall endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years” (The Constitution of India). In line with the commitment of the country to provide elementary education to all children, educational facilities have got tremendously expanded during the post independence period, especially in primary stage. The number of primary school in India has increased from 2. 2 lakhs in 1950-51 to nearly 7 lakhs in 2004-05.
In addition, there are at present nearly 3 lakhs non-formal education centres providing primary level education to out-of-school children in the age group 9 to 14. This expansion has definitely helped in making primary level education more easily accessible to a large section of children. As a result, the illiteracy rate and drop-out rate at school stage have come down. The national literacy rate has increased from 52. 21 per cent in 1991 to 64. 84 per cent in 2001. The drop-out rate has also declined from 64. 9 per cent in 1960-61 to 29 per cent in 2004-2005.
Although the literacy rates for both males and females have increased, the latter still continues to lag behind the former. However, there has been a narrowing of the male-female gap in literacy from 24. 8 percentage point in 1991 to 21. 7 percentage point in 2001(Selected Educational Statistics 2004-05). Primary education is the first stage of formal education. The main objective of quality primary education is to inculcate basic knowledge about reading, writing and arithmetic among the children. It is expected that after the successful completion of the primary level of education, a pupil should be able to read, write, and solve simple arithmetic problem.
A study conducted by the Teamlease Services has revealed a very disappointing scenario of primary education in India. The study was conducted in primary schools in all the States of India (excluding Union Territories, Mizoram, Sikkim) to measure the learning achievement (quality) of students in language and mathematics. This study found that in India after completion of primary level education, 11 per cent student were not able to recognize anything, 14. 1 per cent can recognize only letters, 14. 9 per cent can read a word, 17 per cent can read a paragraph of a story and only 42. 8 per cent can read the complete story (Table 1).
School Children who can read-standard-wise (IV) (in per cent) |State |Nothing |Letters |Word |One-Para of the |Complete story | | | | | |story | | |Andhra Pradesh |8. 8 |10. 5 |15. 6 |17. 7 |47. 35 | |Arunachal Pradesh |7. 2 |13. 5 |21. 6 |13. 3 |44. 4 | |Assam |10. 8 |15. 5 |20. 2 |21. 2 |32. 3 | |Bihar |14. 9 |15. 2 |12. 8 |14. 8 |42. 3 | |Goa |6 |6. 1 |12. 9 |24. 2 |56. 2 | |Gujarat |7. 2 |12. 4 |18. 9 |18. 6 |42. 9 | |Haryana |8. 5 |12. 1 |12. 7 |16. 1 |50. 7 | |Himachal Pradesh |3. 5 |14. 9 |11. 8 |14. 5 |55. 35 | |Jammu & Kashmir |3. 4 |10. 2 |26. 5 |20. 8 |39. 1 | |Karnataka |5. 4 |12. 1 |17. 7 |19. 0 |45.
9 | |Kerala |3. 2 |3. 7 |10. 7 |11. 3 |71. 1 | |Madhya Pradesh |15. 7 |15. 3 |15. 5 |17. 1 |36. 5 | |Maharashtra |7 |12. 1 |13. 0 |17. 4 |50. 45 | |Manipur |10. 6 |10. 7 |18. 7 |15. 7 |44. 4 | |Meghalaya |9 |8. 9 |22. 0 |8. 9 |59. 5 | |Nagaland |3. 1 |16. 5 |21. 7 |255. 6 |33. 2 | |Orissa |12. 4 |15. 0 |13. 5 |15. 05 |44. 2 | |Punjab |8. 9 |15. 3 |15. 1 |17. 85 |42. 8 | |Rajasthan |15. 8 |13. 2 |12. 7 |14. 95 |43. 6 | |Tamil Nadu |10. 3 |11. 4 |17. 5 |17. 3 |43. 6 | |Tripura |1. 0 |7. 3 |11. 7 |16. 8 |63. 4 | |Utter Pradesh |16. 8 |19. 2 |14. 6 |14. 8 |34. 6 | |West Bengal |4. 3 |12. 3 |13. 8 |24. 6 |44. 9 | |Chhattisgarh |7.
3 |16. 0 |15. 0 |15. 5 |46. 4 | |Jharkhand |13. 8 |16. 9 |15. 5 |15. 4 |38. 5 | |Uttaranchal |6. 8 |13. 0 |11. 2 |13. 3 |55. 7 | |All India |11. 0 |14. 1 |14. 9 |17. 0 |42. 8 | Source: India Labour Report 2007 The condition of students learning achievement (quality) is extremely poor in mathematics compare to language. This study found that after the successful completion of the primary level education, 18. 6 per cent children could not recognize the numbers, 26. 7 per cent children can recognize the numbers but not able to do addition or subtraction, 23. 9 per cent children only can do subtraction, and only 30.
7 per cent children can do addition, subtraction as well as division. Table 2 contains data relating to mathematical learning achievement (quality) in all Indian states. IMPROVING QUALITY OF PRIMARY EDUCATION For improving quality, the concerned authorities need to emphasis on the following issues,Early childhood education is extremely important and must be universalized. Aelevant curriculum. Accurate assessment of learning outcomes. Participatory management of education system. Engaging local communities,. Using ICT in teaching learning process Training of teachers and administrators of ICT.
,District Institute of Education and Training (DIETs) and State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) need to be more strengthened and undergo structural changes. ,Establishment of a National Primary Education Assessment system like National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for Higher education. ,Strengthening the teacher training institution. Reform in examination system. Proficiency in English is widely perceived as an important avenue for employment and upward knowledge, which also greatly facilitates the pursuit of higher education.
English should be incorporated into the curriculum of primary schools as a language subject. CONCLUSION It appears from the empirical study that quality of primary education has been compromised for its universality in India. Operation Black Board, District Primary Education Project, National Literacy Programme, Sarvha Shiksha Abhiyan—all aim at universalizing. It is time that the nation pays heed to the quality dimension. As it has already been pointed out, quality indirectly helps in making the quantity. As a result, quality improvement programmes need to be devised for all levels—national, state and district.