Every now and then, our country has been making several efforts to cope with the problem of illiteracy. Though our economy is among the fastest-growing economies in the world, it has a long way to go on education front. Some of the facts depicting the peculiar condition of education in India are;
- As per the global education report-2004, India was positioned at 106 out of 127 countries in the education sphere.
- India has the largest number of illiterates by far, contributing around 34% to the total number of illiterates in the world.
- It is among the ten fastest growing economies in the world, but still has one-third of the world’s illiterates.
Even after sixty-nine years of independence and with large number of its population being under 18 – India is still confronting the perils of its failure to educate its citizens, notably the poor. Numerous reasons lead to adverse condition of education in our country. One of them is a huge gap between the education in government and private schools. The topic – government schools vs private schools has always been a subject of discussion.
Generally, private schools are considered superior to government schools in terms of quality of education, facilities, teaching-learning environment, and infrastructure. But the importance of government schools cannot be neglected either.
Significance of Government Schools
Government schools do hold a significant position in making education available to the masses. They have several benefits over private schools which cannot be denied; such as,
- Government schools are affordable.
- These schools provide education without any discrimination.
- Policies like ‘Free and Compulsory Education’ and ‘Education to The Girl Child’ are made possible only in the government schools.
- Salaries of government school teachers are considerably high.
Government schools vs private schools has been a topic of debate since time immemorial. Which schools are better and on what grounds, further add to the discussion. Usually, the comparison is done in consideration with the factors like type of facilities, batch size, quality of teaching, budget, etc.
We have done a detailed analysis of the major aspects to present a clear picture of the condition of schools in our country. So, here is our analysis based on following parameters.
Lack of basic facilities adds to the plight of education system in India. The situation worsens as we move from urban to sub-urban and rural areas. Though the elite schools of the country offer best of the best facilities and infrastructure, they are very few in number. Most of the schools in the country lack even the basic facilities like classrooms, separate toilets for girls & boys, and clean drinking water.
A report by The Times of India states that nearly 27,000 (36%) of 75,489 schools in the Karnataka state, including private ones, have three or fewer classrooms. Worse, 2,083 schools have just one classroom. The reason prescribed by the state government is that the number of classrooms must be based on the number of teachers in a school. In this context, VP Niranjanaradhya, fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU says, “It’s unfortunate that the government doesn’t realize that there should be one classroom for each standard, not one for each teacher.”
The Right to Education Act (RTE) stated that there should be one teacher for every 35 students. It is further specified that the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) should be 30:1 for primary and 35:1 for upper primary. However, the norms like ‘Free and Compulsory Education’ and ‘Education to All,’ under RTE itself, act as a hindrance in maintaining the specified student-teacher ratio. According to RamChandra Dabas, secretary general of the Akhil Dilli Prathmik Shikshak Sangh (an association of primary school teachers in Delhi), the schools have the ratio of 1:60 instead of 1:30.
A statement by a senior teacher of Molarbund Government Boys Senior Secondary School in South Delhi’s Badarpur further claims- “See, we don’t even have enough rooms to take classes. So we have to take them in the corridors. The school has over a 100 students in many classes, and we are just 120 teachers for the 7,000 students. Plus, the guest teachers haven’t joined yet.” The burden on schools due to lack of teachers and maximum enrollments further aggravates the issue. Though the facts on paper give a different view, the problem of batch size in school classrooms is still persistent.
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Quality of Teaching
Low level of motivation, absenteeism, and lack of interest among teachers have been the major factors contributing to low teaching quality. It has been observed that in 2008-2009, on an average, 45% of the teachers had not studied beyond 12th grade. Anurag Behar, CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, an educational non-profit organisation, pointed out that “the average school teacher in India does not get adequate pre-service or in-service education, nor does she get the support to overcome these problems.”
Further, the National Education Policy (NEP) draft prepared by the TSR Subramanian committee proposed independent Teacher Recruitment Commissions, and formulation of transparent and merit-based norms and guidelines for recruitment of teachers and principals. It suggests teacher training, recruitment, school management, and improved pedagogic techniques.
Private schools are sound enough to meet their financial requirements. They charge hefty amounts from the students and thus are able to maintain a huge budget. While on the other hand, government schools face problems due to lack of finances. Budget problems also contribute to inadequate availability of teachers in government schools.
The New Education Policy-1968 called for increasing the spending on education to 6 percent of the national income. However, the highest amount spent by India on education, till date, is 4.45 percent (approx..) of the total GDP, in the year 2014.
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Lack of teachers; Both in Terms of Quality and Quantity
There is a huge gap between the demand and supply of teachers. To realize the norms laid in the Right to Education Act, a lot of teachers need to be appointed.
According to a statement by the former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, in 2010 there was a lack of 12 lakh teachers. However, there were only 5.23 lakh vacancies in the year.
‘Lack of qualified teachers is also a big part of the problem — only 15 per cent of the candidates managed to clear the Teachers Eligibility Test, an essential criterion for teacher recruitment started in 2011,’ says R Govinda, Vice Chancellor, National University of Educational Planning and Administration.
The deplorable facts about the shortage of teachers in Indian schools represent the pitiful condition of education in the country. Another obstacle in the process of implementation of policies under Right to Education Act (RTE) is unqualified teachers. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that almost 20 percent of all the teachers appointed in the country do not fulfill the norms of the National Council for Teachers’ Education (NCTE), the apex body for teacher education, training, and research in the country. It is not only the quantity but also the quality of teachers, which is a great concern.
No doubt, the gap between private and government schools has led to uneven growth of education in the country, but the nub of the problem lies somewhere else. Moreover, a report by Azim Premji Foundation– 2014 states that the literacy rate in the country has shown a remarkable growth from 18.38% in 1950-51 to 65.38% in 2000-01 (74% in 2010-11). However, the problem of illiteracy is still persistent in the country.
Even today, a substantial number of children do not attend school. Disparities in schooling levels across rural and urban areas, across genders, and marginalized communities like SCs and STs are the reasons for these contradictions. Consequently, education at school level is at a heart-rending condition in our country.
Even after the great strides made by India in escalating its education system, a lot is still undone. There exists a variance in the facts on paper and actual condition of education prevailing in the nation. For instance, the norms and standards scheduled under RTE Act are still unmet. Therefore, India needs to make concrete efforts to reduce this gap to have an actual upliftment of education in the schools as a whole.
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