Revamp primary education to build better India

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Children getting education at Government school
Quiet often we raise concern over Indian universities not making it to the list of top level institutions in the world, but nobody even bother to have a look at ailing primary education system in our country. The recent findings in UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report on out-of-school population has thrown light on stark reality of our primary education system.

According to the findings, India, with 1.4 million children, is among the top five nations with kids aged six to 11 out of school. This even as the 2010 Right to Education Act makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14. But, due to several lapses, the Government has not been able to provide free education to all children. Reasons like poor infrastructure at Government schools, low teacher-student ratio and a sense of extending a helping hand to their parents contributes to poor turnout at primary level. There is no denying the fact that in India, more emphasis is laid on making the higher education world class and very little is done to improve the sorry state of education at primary level.

The UNESCO report also attributes India's woeful performance to, among other things, the largest cuts in aid to basic education effected by any country. Its aid to the sector fell by a massive $278 million between 2010 and 2012.

Education at primary level needs a revamp:

The fundamentals of education and a student's basic understanding take shape at the primary level. If that is not taken care of, then for a majority of students who cannot afford private school fees, world-class or modernised higher education will be of no use. Hence, improving conditions at primary level should be on priority list of the newly-elected Government.

What facts say:
The higher education (public) is highly subsidised with the best faculties and best infrastructure whereas primary education is for free but the quality of teachers is sub-standard and physical infrastructure is no better.

According to data of Planning Commission in 2012-2013, only 40 per cent of primary schools in the country have an electricity connection. Bihar has the lowest percentage of primary schools having electricity connections at 2.5 per cent.

1.4 million Indian children aged 6-11 out of school

7.32 per cent Government schools in India don't get text books from the Government. 6 per cent of primary schools in the country don't have drinking water facility. 25 per cent schools don't have girls' toilets. Only 22 per cent and 57 per cent of the schools have computer learning facilities and playgrounds respectively.

Among other issues like less qualified teachers and poor student-teacher ratio, teacher absenteeism, lack of basic infrastructure are responsible for degrading educational standards in the country. For instance, lack of inadequate number of teachers has hit the beginning of the academic year in Medak district of Telangana. According to education department, as many as 100 schools have commenced their academic year without teachers.

Plans failed to deliver results:

The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was launched with the aim of achieving the objective of universal primary education. The Government of India launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aimed at the universalisation of elementary education. India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Right to Education Act came into force in April 2010. A number of schemes were announced to deal with the issue but they failed to deliver results.

During his campaign trail, Narendra Modi, as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, had expressed his agony over, among other issues, the state of education in India. Now, as his Government has taken charge at the Centre, Modi must understand the urgent need of revamping the education sector, mainly at primary level and focus should be laid on bringing the children to the school and thereby, increasing literacy level in the country.

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