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Challenges in Indian Education System

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  • Difficulty Level : Expert
  • Last Updated : 23 Mar, 2022

Education is a tool that empowers individuals in all aspects of their life. It widens his knowledge, skills, techniques, and his vision of the world. It also helps in inculcating moral and ethical values. Apart from all this, employment opportunities increase to a great extent along with the higher income prospects. There is no doubt that the development of a country depends on the quality of its educational system. Adequate investment in the educational domain will help in increasing the efficiency and productivity of the manpower. Ultimately, well-educated people help in accelerating the pace of economic development resulting in the growth of the country.  

According to the Emerging Directions in Global Education (EDGE) report 2011, around 26,478 institutions provide higher education in India and account for the largest number in the world, whereas there were 6,706 higher education schools in the U.S. and 4,000 in China.

India’s modern education system was introduced by the British colonial Government. During the colonial period, the foundation of the Indian education system was built up by the Macaulay minute, Wood’s Dispatch, Curzon’s education policy, Sadler commission, and so on.

Provisions in the Indian Constitution on education:

  • Article 21A: 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 introduced Article 21A which made elementary education a Fundamental Right rather than a Directive Principle.
  • Article 45: It was amended to provide early childhood care and education to children below the age of 6 years.
  • Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: This Act was passed to implement Article 21A. It also provided essential legal backing for the implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been in operation since 2000-2001.

Major Issues and Challenges of the Education Sector:

India is known for its educational brilliance. However, the Indian education system is criticized for its failure to create required employability for its students in relation to the industrial requirements. Hence, there are a lot of challenges being faced by the Indian education sector that requires immediate attention. 

1) Teacher-Student Ratio: According to the UNESCO’s State of the Education report for India 2021, there is 11.16 lakh teaching positions that are vacant in schools. It clearly shows that there is a shortage of teachers in schools. Besides this, teachers are burdened with a lot of non-academic workloads which ultimately results in a divergence of their focus from teaching the students. According to a study done by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), teachers devote only around 19% of their time to teaching while the rest of their time is spent in non-teaching administrative work.

Apart from it, when it comes to the Government sector, the Government teachers enjoy a lifetime guarantee of job security irrespective of their performance which results in no accountability from their side.

2) Allotment of Funds: Funds are provided to the schools by the Central Government to the State Government. Every National Education Policy since 1968 has said that India needs to spend 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education. The 2019-20 Economic Survey showed that in 2019-20, 52 years since that recommendation, India spent only 3.1% of its GDP on education. This is the data collected from a website. In addition, many corrupt mediators are there in between who keep the money aside for themselves and only a small portion of the entire fund is provided to the schools. This hampers the functioning of the schools in a great way. The requirements of the schools like libraries, labs, and other infrastructural facilities cannot be managed appropriately by the schools due to the lack of availability of money. 

3) Expensive Higher Education: According to a survey by Assocham, there has been a 169% rise in inflation in primary and secondary education from 2005 to 2011. Specialized institutions and colleges are expensive in India. Higher education for some courses is beyond the reach of the common man. For example, IIM charges Rs. 2 lakh per semester for MBA classes. Privatization of advanced education into the hands of greedy entrepreneurs resulted in high drop rates in the field of unaffordable higher education.

4) Lack of Infrastructure: Lack of infrastructural facilities like poor hygiene, lack of toilets, drinking water facilities, electricity, playground, etc. is one of the major loopholes of the education sector. A survey was conducted in 2010 whereby approximately 95.2% of schools are not still under the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators. According to the 2016 Annual Survey of Education Report, only 68.7%schools had useable toilet facilities and around 3.5% of schools in India had no toilet facilities. 

5) High-Dropout Rates: In the primary and secondary levels, dropout rates are very high. Students between the age group of 6- 14 years leave the school before completion of their education. According to the ASER report 2012, enrollment in the 6-14 years of age is over 96% in rural India but dropout rates are very high. Various factors responsible for dropout rates are as follows- poverty, lack of toilets, long distance to school, child marriages, patriarchal mindset, and cultural factors.

6) Neglect of Regional Languages: In 2017-18, 14% of students who were enrolled in private schools in India’s rural areas and 19.3% in urban areas selected a private school with the English language as the medium of instruction. English is the main medium of language in education. Standardized publications in Indian languages are also not available. As a result, students who are from rural backgrounds, Government schools, and those who are not well versed in the English language face a lot of problems in gaining knowledge and understanding the concepts.  

7) Old Curriculum of Study and Lack of Practical Knowledge: Old education system in India was mainly based on bookish learning but nowadays with the use of the internet and experiential learning methods, a lot has been changed. The use of the abacus and Vedic Maths has added new dimensions to mathematics as a subject. New doors of learning and interesting methods of study came into existence.
Similarly, the old curriculum of education mainly focuses on cramming up the theories and concepts. No exposure is being provided to the students in the practical domain. Parents and teachers also focus on guiding the students for obtaining high marks in the subjects rather than practical knowledge and usability of the concepts. As a result, education has become a rat race. But, due to the introduction of the National Policy on Education 2020 things have changed. India had three educational policies so far. The first was in the year 1968, the second was in the year 1986 and the third one is in the year 2020. The main purpose of the National Policy on Education 1986 was to include the disadvantaged groups by providing them equal opportunities in the field of education. But the National Policy on Education 2020 is more holistic in nature. It aims at skill-based learning and providing employability to the students. All the loopholes of the previous educational policies are being catered by the New Educational Policy 2020.

8) The Problem of Brain Drain: Students if they don’t get opportunities and deserving posts in the country, they travel to another country in search of employment opportunities. This is known as brain drain. Because of it, we lose talented people of our country who could have helped in the development of the education sector or must have contributed towards the progress of our country. It was reported during 1996-2015 that more than half of the toppers of class 10th and 12th had migrated and were studying or employed overseas, mostly in the US. One of the initiatives taken by the Indian government in this regard is the National Skill Development Mission which aims to train approximately 400 million people by 2022 in India but it’s not enough to stop the movement entirely.

Solutions to Challenges: A way forward

  1. More importance should be given to the primary and secondary education of a child.
  2. Our marking system needs to be changed by the creativity of the students. It should not be based on cramming.
  3. Indian Government should spend more on building the infrastructure of schools and teachers’ training.
  4. Appropriate measures need to be taken up by the Government for providing quality education that is affordable for all. Like under National Education Policy 2022, the students are free to choose the language according to their own interests. In the education expenditure, from the year 1952 to 2014, the total GDP percentage increased from 0.64 to 4.13.

Note: Improving the system of education is the need of the hour. According to the report of ASER 2020, one out of three rural children is not able to learn at all. Government should strictly look after the proper training of the teachers and deal with the problems related to primary and secondary education in India. Instead of cramming, learning should be emphasized. Since education is a country’s lifeline, it should be learner-centric rather than mark-centric.


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