Although India is amongst the ten fastest growing economies in the world, it also has the largest number of illiterates by far, close to 40%. According to a UNESCO report (Education for All Global Monitoring Report), India is placed among the 21 countries that are facing an extensive learning crisis. The greatest challenge that India faces now is the failure to educate its citizens, especially the poor.
Education is the only way for India to develop. For this very reason, the Right to Education Act was implemented in the year 2009 enforcing free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14 years of age.
It is important for the Indian government to intervene in the area of education because education institutes driven by profit motives cannot benefit the masses. But the condition of government schools in India is pitiable and terrible. Apart from a state or two, all Indian states have poor educational statistics. Yes, it is true that more Indian children are in schools that ever before, but the quality of the government schools is really low. The children in these schools come from the poorest of families — those who cannot afford to send away their kids to private schools elsewhere.
Even though many children attend schools, they remain ill-equipped. As a part of my research for this article, I visited a few public schools in Yerwada, Pune. There I interacted with the teachers and also sat in classes and observed how the teaching was being carried out.
From the teachers I found out that most kids studying in that school belonged to extremely poor families, who could barely afford the fee. Most kids’ mothers were working as domestic helpers and fathers worked as daily wage labourers. There were also cases where the father was unemployed.
Source- Hindustan Times
When I sat in the classes while the teacher was teaching, I realised that while a lot of children were sitting in the class, a lot of them could not even read or write or perform basic arithmetic. These are 6th and 7th standard students we are talking about. What’s worse is that the teacher couldn’t care less. I mean, there was a girl who didn’t even understand what addition was and the teacher was teaching her diameter and area of circles. There were many more like her.
The attitude of the teachers here towards the plight of these children is callous, inhumane and indifferent. The teachers in these schools are teaching (or barely teaching), simply because at the end of the month they’ll have a salary in their hands. The motive isn’t to impart good education, rather it is to simply get paid, regardless of whether the former is being done or not. “These children are already very weak. So, no matter how much time and effort we put into them, they never learn”, said a teacher. From further interaction, I also learned that the teachers aren’t being paid a lot. Their salaries are meagre and it doesn’t give them enough incentive to actually teach efficiently.
Also, there is an acute shortage of teachers, let alone good teachers, not only in Pune, but also in other parts of the country. There also exists a longstanding neglect, insufficient public institution funding and accountability and a lack of motivation among some teachers to pay special attention to poor children, as is mentioned in the novel History of Education in India by Ram Nath Sharma and Rajendra Kumar Sharma.
So, we can see that the rate of development of education in government schools is very slow and inefficient. Besides these issues, it is also important to focus on the curriculum of the students. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his book Essays including Essays (1st and 2nd Series), “We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation -rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.” It is important to update syllabus with changing times. But this is seems like a far-fetched dream right now, considering the fact that there are children who don’t even go to school, let alone focus on the curriculum.
On paper, the number of government schools and colleges is increasing. But as has been mentioned in Malcom X-Black Liberation by Jack Barnes, “And just because you have colleges and universities doesn't mean you have education.”
By Swati Singh