Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[op-ed snap] Still too many children out of school


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RTE Act, Rights of children

Mains level: The worrying condition of out-of-school children and ways to reduce their number


Data on out-of-school children

  1. The official numbers of out-of-school children in India are either out of date or contradictory
  2. According to the 2011 Census, the number of out-of-school children in the 5-17 age group was 8.4 crore
  3. However, according to a survey commissioned in 2014 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the number of out-of-school children in the 6-13 age group was only 60.64 lakh

Using NSS data to find a better estimate

  1. On the basis of the 71st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out in 2014 and taking into account the 6-18 age group, out-of-school children in this age group were more than 4.5 crores in the country
  2. The proportion of out-of-school children was higher in rural India (17.2%) than in urban India (13.1%)
  3. The proportion of children from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) was the highest, followed by Other Backward Classes (OBCs)
  4. Among religious groups, the proportion of Muslims was as high as 24.1% in rural areas and 24.7% in urban areas
  5. Out-of-school children came mostly from low-income, landless and marginal families

Reasons for dropping out of school

  1. The most important reason for boys to drop out of school was to take up jobs to supplement the family earning
  2. For girls, it was the compulsion to participate in household work
  3. There is also a prejudice against educating girls that is prevalent in India
  4. An important reason for drop-out is the socio-economic conditions of the parents of the children
  5. The most important social reason for drop-out is a lack of awareness of the importance of school education and of the fact that education is now a legal right

Reason for child labour too?

  1. According to the RTE Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, these out-of-school children fall under the category of child labour
  2. It is, therefore, not surprising that the largest number of child labourers in the world is in India

What can be done to bring more children to school?

  1. We would not have been confronted with this high proportion of drop-outs if all the provisions of the RTE Act had been implemented within the time limit prescribed in the Act (latest by April 2015)
  2. The Act provided for the availability of a school at a distance of 1 km from the residence of the child at the primary level and 3 km at the upper primary level
  3. If these provisions had been implemented, a major reason for drop-out (the distance of school) would have been eliminated
  4. Until an adequate number of schools at the prescribed distances from the children’s homes becomes available, it would be necessary to provide secure modes of subsidised travel to schools, particularly for girls
  5. Another important provision which ought to have been included in the RTE is financial support to poor parents, adequate to enable them to send their children to school

Way Forward

  1. It is a matter of serious concern that nearly 10 years after the enactment of the RTE Act, and 16 years after the right to education was elevated to a fundamental right, such a large number of children are out of school
  2. Education is a quintessential example of being vested with intrinsic as well as instrumental value — being both the means and the end
  3. Steps need to be taken to provide education to India’s potential demographic dividend
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