Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Equity in education matters


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Equity in education and impact of digital education on it

Fairness and inclusiveness are two important aspects of education system. Growing shift toward digital education in India has implications for these two aspects. The article suggests ways to make the education system fair and inclusive.

Knowledge economy in India

  • The new National Education Policy (NEP) as well as other factors have lately brightened up education landscape in India..
  • The rise of education technology (ed-tech) incorporating VR, AR, ‘gamification’, 3D immersive learning, etc, is contributing to the knowledge economy’s potential for large market size, calling for requisite policy support.

Barriers to equity in education

  • The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) defines two dimensions of equity in education.
  • First is “fairness”, which means ensuring that personal and social circumstances do not prevent students from achieving their academic potential.
  • The second is “inclusion”, which means setting a basic minimum standard for education that is shared by all students regardless of their background.
  • The barriers that make equity difficult to foster in India are varied and complex.

Loss of learning during Covid pandemic

  • The latest Annual State of Education Report (ASER) reveals that 20% of rural students lacked textbooks.
  • Only one in ten students had access to online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Survey provides a glimpse into the levels of learning loss that students in rural India, particularly in states like Bihar, West Bengal, UP, and Rajasthan, are suffering, resulting in sharp digital divides in education.
  • Unless remedied with urgency, the digital split may disrupt learning, and jeopardise our hard-won gains resulting in large scale school drop-outs, particularly of adolescent girls.

How to remove barriers to equity?

  • To remove these barriers we need to look at several aspects like monetary resources, academic standards, academic content and support.
  • Apart from inequality in internet access and access to devices, even the quality of connection and related services and subscription fees exacerbate the digital divide.
  • For education to be availed as a social good, access at an affordable cost and reasonable quality is a precondition.
  • The availability of content in vernacular languages is yet another issue.
  • In digital education along with demand-side issues, supply-side issues need fixing, such as training of teachers in ICT, new learning devices and handling the evolved curriculum.
  • Teachers and academic institutions need to ensure that the content they are using is lucid, appropriate, fact-based and relevant.
  • Access to education loans from banks and financial institutions are a great support in the cause of education, particularly higher education.
  • Education is on the Concurrent List. A cooperative and collaborative spirit will thus be critical to realise the goals.
  • The Centre has a task well cut for building consensus on NEP2020.

Consider the question “Fainess and inclusiveness are two important dimensions of equity that should be pursued by any education system. However, push towards digital educations threatens these two dimensions of the education system in India. Comment” 


With strong corporate commitment, states’ support, backed by strong policy push and intent by the Centre, and value addition by other stakeholders, the roadblocks on the path of equity and inclusiveness in education, though daunting, could be addressed.



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