The recently declared Census data shows that between the time span of 2001 and 2011, the number of students grew by 38%. In actual figures, they grew from 229 million to 315 million, as opposed to the 18% growth in over all population.
Interestingly, the maximum growth was witnessed in the age group of 15-19 years, which grew by 73% (44 million to 76 million). This signifies that there is an increase in the number of students at senior secondary and post-school higher education, and the same can also be attributed to the growing number of girl children studying.
“There is a deep hunger for education in India today that never existed at this mass scale earlier. Education is seen as a sure path towards economic well being,” explained Jayan Jose Thomas, professor at IIT Delhi who has been studying education and employment in India. “The question looming in front of us now is whether suitable jobs can be given to all these educated people,” he added.
However, the data also shows that nearly 1/5th of all seven-year-old children haven’t yet entered school. That equals around 4.8 million children. Interestingly, even though this figure had come down to 7%, by the age of 13 years, it still means that 1.6 million children never went to school, signalling a worrying opposition to the otherwise healthy trend.
Thomas has analyzed the data coming from NSSO to see how exactly this student population explosion happened between the Census years of 2001 and 2011. He attributes this growth to the period of 1996 and 2004-05, driven primarily by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and various other directives regarding the mid-day meals. He also concluded that the gap between rich and poor in terms of education for the whole 5 to 24 years age group has come down over the years. This means that the poorer sections are also eager to get educated and may be willing to make economic sacrifices in order to get their children educated, as far as possible.
Despite such encouraging data, imbalances remain. For example, this growth is not uniform across the country as Kerala has an enrollment rate of 83% between the age groups of 15 to 19 years, as opposed to Odisha which has only 43%. In another surprising revelation, West Bengal and Gujarat also do not fare well, with 53% and 51% enrollments in the same category. This might be reflective of the availability of higher education options in the state, as more urbanized and industrial states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Haryana are among the states with higher student shares.
One thought on “Student Population grew 38% in last decade”