1. Discuss the problem of poor education quality in India – ASER, university rankings, etc.,
2. Highlight the reasons for poor standards
3. Provide necessary solutions
India’s demographic dividend depends on the learning level of students. The quality of education has a direct bearing on any economy. Although, India has made rapid economic progress over the last three decades, one area that has not received enough attention is the quality of education. The ASER report by NGO Pratham shows the prevalence of learning deficit and the poverty of basic reading and arithmetic skills among students in Indian schools.
Following are the issues and challenges which has impeded the quality of education system in India at all levels i.e. be at primary or higher level are:
Expenditure on Education:
o The expenses on education as a percentage to GDP, India lags behind some developed/ developing nations.
o Dilapidated structures, single-room schools, lack of drinking water facilities, separate toilets and other educational infrastructure is a grave problem.
o Another challenge for improving the Indian education system is to improve the student teacher ratio.
o In India, this ratio is very high as compared to certain comparable countries in the world. For example, while in developed countries this ratio stands at 11.4, in case of India, it is as high as 22.0.
Corruption and leakages:
o The transfer of funds from the central to state to local governments to school leads to involvement of many intermediaries.
o The fund transfer is drastically reduced by the time it reaches the true beneficiaries.
o High rates of corruption and leakages plague the system, undermine its legitimacy and harm the many thousands of honest headmasters and teachers.
Quality of Teachers:
o Lack of well trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers which provide the foundation for a high quality education system.
o Teacher shortages and poorly qualified teachers are both a cause and effect of poorly paid and managed teaching cadres.
o The teachers are overburdened with senseless reports and administrative workload. This eats into the time which is necessary for teaching.
o A study by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA) revealed that teachers spend only around 19 percent of their time teaching while the rest is spent mostly on non-teaching administrative work.
o Teachers are paid miserly salaries which affect their interest and dedication to work. They will look for other avenues like tuitions or coaching centers and coax the students to attend it.
o This has dual effect, firstly the quality of teaching in schools drop and secondly, the poor students are forced to spend money despite constitutional provision of free education.
o Absence of teachers during school hours is rampant. The lack of accountability and poor governance structures add to the woes.
Lack of Accountability:
o School Management Committees are largely dysfunctional. Many exist solely on paper.
o Parents are often not aware of their rights and if they are it is difficult for them to make their voice heard.
High drop-out rates:
o The drop-out rates in schools, especially girls, is very high.
o Many factors like poverty, patriarchal mindset, lack of toilets in schools, distance to schools and cultural elements lead to children dropping out from education.
o Many schools are closed to low student strength, lack of teachers and infrastructure. The competition posed by private schools is also a major challenge to government schools.
A systemic approach to reforming education system in the country needs the following:
A new systemic approach to reforming education is now emerging in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana etc.
o It involves aligning all stakeholders and orienting their collective efforts towards following a single and “comprehensive transformation road map” towards better learning outcomes.
o Academic interventions involve the adoption of grade competence framework instead of just syllabus completion.
o Effective delivery of remedial education for weaker students like after-school coaching, audio-video based education.
o Administrative reforms that enable and incentivize teachers to perform better through data-driven insights, training, and recognition. Example: Performance based increments in Salary.
o Together with human enablement, a seamless ecosystem or a system enabler (often a technology platform) is also set up.
o It is also important to track the performance of the schooling system on a regular basis to course correct where needed.
o This involves frequent real-time, data-enabled review meetings at the block, district, and state levels.
o These states have also developed user-friendly dashboards that assist education officials and the state leadership in decision-making.
o Create a single-window system for infrastructure and mainstream fund-flows: In Bihar, only around 10 percent of the schools fulfils infrastructure norms. A study revealed that files for renovating schools often go on a two-year journey through various departments.
o The same can be applied for teacher salaries and school funds. These can be transferred directly from the State to the teachers and schools.
There is no need to involve the District or Block in this process.
o Leveraging the audio-visual edutainment to make education more interesting and easier to understand for the children. This will improve the quality as well as reduce the drop-out rates.
o Implementing bio-metric attendance for teachers and students for every class can help reduce absenteeism.
Empower School Management Committees-
o To develop a system that facilitates School Management Committee members by fostering democratic accountability.
o Social audits should also be carried out for effective functioning.
Better pre-service teacher training coupled with transparent and merit-based recruitments is a lasting solution for teacher quality.
Improve the quality of teacher education by making teacher training mandatory. Example: National Council for Teacher Education Act amendment bill, Diksha portal to train teachers.
Increase the public spending on education to 6% of GDP as recommended by many committees like the recent TSR Subramaniam committee.
Teachers are rarely reprimanded for non-performance, while there are recommendations for removal of non-detention policy. The blame is squarely on the children, such an attitude must be wiped out.
Education policy in India is focused on inputs rather than learning outcomes; It has a strong elitist bias in favour of higher education as opposed to primary or secondary education. This needs a change by coming out with a
It is time that India began viewing school education as a critical strategic investment and gave it the status of a vital infrastructure project. As all in-country efforts have failed, we should go in for a radical overhaul of our educational infrastructure with the help of countries that have an amazing record in providing quality school education — Finland.
Providing universal quality education depends not on the performance of teachers alone but is the shared responsibility of several stakeholders: governments, schools, teachers, parents, the media and civil society, international organisations, and the private sector.