Rural education in India
March 15, 2013
by Ramandeep Kaur
Majority of India still lives in villages and so the topic of rural education in India is of utmost importance. A survey named called the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), shows that even though the number of rural students attending schools is rising, but more than half of the students in fifth grade are unable to read a second grade text book and are not able to solve simple mathematical problems. Not only this, the level of maths and reading is further declining. Though efforts are being made, they are not in the right direction. The reason cited for this problem in surveys is the increasing number of single classroom to educate students from more than one grade. In some states attendance of teachers and students is also declining. These are a few reasons why schools have failed to educate rural India.
Quality and access to education is the major concern in rural schools as there are fewer committed teachers, lack of proper text books and learning material in the schools. Though Government schools exist, but when compared to private schools then quality is a major issue. Majority of people living in villages have understood the importance of education and know that it is the only way to get rid of poverty. But due to lack of money they are not able to send their children to private schools and hence depend upon government schools for education. Above that, in some of the government schools there is only one teacher for the entire school and if they don’t show up at work, then it is a holiday. If the quality along with number of teachers and, that too committed teachers can be improved in these schools, then aspiring rural children and India can fulfill their dreams of doing something great.
Some government schools in rural India are overly packed with students, leading to a distorted teacher- student ratio. In one such remote village in Arunachal Pradesh there are more than 300 students in class X which makes nearly 100 students in each classroom. In such a situation it is impossible for teachers to pay full attention towards each and every student, even if they are willing to help.
Every village is not provided with school which means that students have to go to another village to get education. Owing to this parents usually do not send their daughters to school, leading to a failure in achieving rural education in India.
Poverty is another setback. Government schools are not as good and private schools are expensive. This results in a very low number of students actually clearing their secondary education and taking admission in a colleges for further studies. So the drop-out-rate at the secondary level is extremely high in villages. Only parents who can afford college education send their kids to secondary schools. If parents are not able to send their wards for higher education then all their previous efforts get wasted as completing just secondary education means a low paying job and the person is again struck in the same never ending cycle of money, life and poverty.
Most textbooks are in English and since people in rural areas either speak their native language or Hindi, but not English that defeats the purpose. This results in lack of their interest in studies. Though some of the students from villages are really brilliant, as they have a wealth of practical knowledge and know how to survive even in very harsh conditions of life, difficultly in understanding their textbooks, lack of facilities and their poverty are a hurdle in their education.
Quality related issues are far powerful than poverty. Students are not at all encouraged to think but they are asked to memorize pre-defined questions for exams. So for many students clearing examination at the end of the session, passing their exam becomes more important than gaining knowledge. Also as per the new CBSE rule, every student is supposed to be promoted to the next class irrespective of marks in their examination. Hence majority of students do not bother to study, which means a decline in their education level . Neither students nor teachers take any interest in studies which is why the level of education is declining in India despite many efforts.
The foundation to turn India into a strong nation has to be laid down at primary and rural levels and so the quality of education right from the beginning should be excellent. Education and text books should be made interesting. For rural students textbooks related to their culture, their traditions and values should also be there so as to create their interest in studies.The reasons behind so many drop-outs in spite of free education should be found out as this is a hurdle on the road to progress. Improvement in the condition of government schools, education quality, committed teachers and more salaries to these teachers should be part of development.
There is a difference between city and village student not in terms of brain or development but their initial environment, skills, learning ability, availability of infrastructure, and access to different facilities. All of these must be considered while making the curricula which should not be different but how it is going to be taught would make the difference. Encourage the genuine rural students who are interested in education and make them competent. There are many examples of success in rural education in India like the Barefoot college, 8 Day Academy and Gurukul School in Bihar. These are innovative and successful examples of schools running in rural India. It is the time to replicate such efforts as our country and its rural population is very vast which means one of two stories of these kinds won’t make any difference. Instead of this large number of such schools are required in rural India. It is also absolutely mandatory to evaluate the success of the schools and students at each and every level. Timely assessment will throw light on present problems and achievements. Let us try to build a solution around these problems which will resolve the overall issues of rural education in India.
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