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 Poonam Singh,
Director, Jaks Srichand Foundation
The number of children who DO NOT attend school in India is estimated to be over a 100 million. Rural India accounts for an overwhelming majority of this figure. This extremely disturbing statistic is further skewed by the fact that boys form much higher percentage of children in rural India who gain a high-school diploma, making the girl child, especially ignored, and denied of a basic education.
 

As the country leapfrogs into a new millennium, there is constant talk of us finding our place among the powerful nations of the world.However can we really attain a place in the top without ensuring qualified skilled and educated young work force? What is the currenet scenario in the country? Lets take the example of Uttar Pardesh the most populous state in the country.

 

As many as 47.2% children in Class 1 of Uttar Pradesh rural schools cannot even read letters of the alphabet, says the 13th Annual Status of Education Report (Rural)-2018.The report also says 32.3% of class 1 children in the state’s rural schools can recognise alphabets only, while only 9.4% of them can read words.

In UP, the report covered 70 districts, surveying 82,470 children, 2,100 villages and 41,984 households.

Likewise, 15.1% class 3 students cannot even read letters, 27.2% can read letters but not words and 15.7% can read words, but not class 1 level text or higher, the report adds. Only 14% class 3 students can read class 1 level text but not class 2 level text, and 28.1% can read class 2 level text, the report says.

The report also indicates that 9.5% class 3 students cannot even recognise numbers 1-9, 33.2% can recognise numbers up to 9 but cannot recognise numbers up to 99 or higher, 30.7% can recognise numbers up to 99 but cannot do subtraction, 15.2% can do subtraction but not division, and 11.4% can do division. Only 32.4% children between the age of 8-10 years, 60.1% children between the age of 11-13 years and 74.8% children in the 14-16 group can read class 2 level books.

What are the issues that are crippling our rural education system?

 

  1. Dearth of adequate number of schools:The rural parts of India are already struggling a lot when it comes to local transportation. This problem poses a huge threat to education in rural India due to limited or no schools in the vicinity. The problem in transportation coupled with schools located at a great distance in rural areas compel parents not to send their kids to the schools, thus keeping them devoid of education.

 

  1. Lack of pocket-friendly educational institutions:Residents of rural India usually come with little income sources which are usually consumed in the basic survival, making education out of their realm. The lack of government schools in the local areas discourages parents more to spend on their kids resulting in no education being imparted.

 

  1. Inadequate infrastructure:The schools in rural India have really poor infrastructure. There is a huge lack of teachers, especially well-trained ones which disturbs the student-teacher ratio extensively. This leads to very poor quality of education being imparted, hardly fulfilling the need of education.

 

Rural-urban divide

 

Even though we are one nation, we still continue to have a rural-urban divide in every aspect and education also falls in that sphere. There are a number of studies which have demonstrated a wide gap coming in between rural and urban education. The gaps can be witnessed in various ways.

In urban India, the number of schools is way higher in number as compared to rural India. Almost all the patches of the city have schools which makes education more accessible.

The way of teaching also differs in urban schools. While the teaching methodology in rural schools is still primitive, the urban schools are keen on adopting modern ways of teaching like concept learning and focus on development of each student.

 

 

How to change the status quo

 

As we have already discussed, there are various shortcomings that rural educational institutions have.

The solution to improving the rural education is introducing modern and better techniques to the education system which can help rural students come on par with the urban students.

 

  1. Set up more schools: The parents in the rural India can be promoted to send their kids to schools only if there are enough schools near their homes and at a very minimal cost. To those who come from very low financial background, the government must provide for their textbooks, library and laboratory facilities so that they are not left with any reason for not attending the schools.

 

  1. Amalgamate technology with education: It is very important for rural schools to lay emphasis on technology, especially basic computer knowledge so that they are not left far behind. Also, in the digitally growing world, it is very important for every child to be aware of basic technologies and their usage.

 

  1. Focus on conceptual learning: Gone are the days when rote learning and facts learning were sufficient in order to be educated. Modern day education system required people to be aware of what they learning with the know-how of its application and this can be done only when basic concepts are cleared right from the beginning of their schooling.

 

  1. Move outside classrooms: If we want to make education engaging for students, it is really important to start taking class lessons beyond the classrooms. It is very crucial for kids to be well aware of the world around them and this can be done only when they are being taken out and shown around. This will also help them understand the concepts practically and will remember them for longer.