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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Unique Challenges & Opportunities in Education in Rural India

A country as big as the European continent with more languages spoken than all their dialects, a population which is one seventh of the entire global population and has the largest number of people under thirty-five years of age, pretty much defines India. This summary is also a reflection of the complexities and dynamics of a young nation which is aspiring to be a global power. India takes pride in having one of the best educational institutions, the biggest democracy, among a few nations capable of launching satellites and ICBMs in the space, a military power of more than a million and combat power few can match.

If we look at the other side of the coin the picture is far from encouraging. More than the 70% of the population lives in the villages where the basic level of sanitation and hygiene, clean drinking water and electricity is not available. The purchasing power is below USD100 for the vast millions thus the survival of many is at stake. India is still an agrarian economy and the farmers are dependent on the vagaries of weather. One year there is a flood and in the following year, there is a severe drought thus leaving the tillers of the land at the mercy of weather gods. Despite having attained independence almost seven decades ago, the efficient network of canals, linking the rivers is almost non-existent.

The other socio economic factors, existing levels of literacy, a preference of a male child over female one, prevailing patriarchal system, dowry and many more social evils take a toll on the growth and educational system.

With this back drop of unique challenges, the education in rural India takes almost a back seat when it comes to serving the nation. With low levels of income, the parents can ill afford to spend on the education of children. The mid day free meal is hardly an incentive to spur any interest in the young children. The teachers are generally ill equipped and rarely able to evoke an intelligent discussion. The conditions in class rooms is hardly an encouraging one and the absenteeism is fairly high. In most of the rural and government schools, the children are promoted till the class X almost automatically, thus leaving huge gaps of knowledge which reflect when these children have to compete with their peers in the latter part of the college and professional education. As most of the rural families have more than three children at home and very constrained financial means, the parents are keen that the moment children grow strong enough, they could serve as earning hands to augment the family income,

These problems are just the tip of the iceberg and many which have a profound impact like open defecation, security of girl child, archaic laws that need imminent change need to be discussed at length to bring about a meaningful change.

There is an old adage that 'when going gets tough, the tough get going'. Thus taking these challenges 'head on' is the only alternative. A few credible steps that have been taken can change the situation dramatically compared to the lethargy with which the reforms happened earlier. The pace of technological advances like the entry of internet in every village, mobile internet and smart phones, tablets, availability of vernacular software user interfaces can bring in a revolution. The linking of scholarships to the deserving children using 'Aadhar cards' is also a step in the right direction. There is a crying need to focus on 'skill development' rather than an emphasis on conventional education. The burden on educational institutions will be reduced to an extent to dole out degrees that have little value to the industry.This will also help in improving the quality of education for those who sincerely want to pursue higher education. Building sanitary conditions and toilets in every school and villages, providing safety to girl child and incentives to raise the girls is a slow process but will surely yield a positive result. If we are able to sincerely devote resources in this direction the results would be visible in the near future.

14 comments:

  1. Completely in agreement with your thoughts Rahul Ji ! The biggest problem the country is facing is the uncontrollably burgeoning population which has now reached mammoth proportions ! Population control is the prime need of the hour !

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  2. Good to see you back Rama! What you wrote is perfectly true!

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  3. Education for all is so important!

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  4. Hi Rahul, I agree that sanitation and education are big challenges in India. We need to ensure that we are able to provide both.

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    1. Rachna, unfortunately the basic things continue to be elusive!

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