The role of education in an individual’s personal growth, skill development & democratic responsible behaviour, thereby contributing immensely to the overall prosperity of a nation, is irrefutable. India has a significant drop-out ratio with some BIMARU states exceeding 50% before standard 10th. Quality of education in government-run schools with a skewed teacher-student ratio is not appropriate. The lack of basic amenities like library, clean toilets, and playgrounds further adds to the drop out ratio.
In the current rural scenario, the government-run schools merely have a roof and solid walls, without any proper seating arrangement, clean toilets (or hardly any toilets whatsoever) and impaired connection to the electricity, thus leading to partial or no education at all. If we come to the teachers, they are hardly interested to even teach; also, where the students must be sitting in different grades, they all are being taught in a single classroom, by a single teacher. In fact, the teachers in a government-run school in a rural area, are merely paid substantially enough for them to be interested to teach.
The statistics however that come from the enrollment figures, show a completely different picture altogether indicating the success of the rural education measures. These data figures might present a rosy picture, but we need to investigate the dark corners of the Indian education system, particularly in a rural area. The 2 A’s of the rural education system point towards Access and Affordability, but in reality, they are pointing towards a rather bigger scenario. Access and Affordability have surely been conquered in today’s era, but these have led us to nowhere but a rather faulty but shiny picture. We have in fact moved further away from the basic aim of providing actual education to rural India.
Apart from the basic twin ills of Access and Affordability, which keep a significant child population at bay from school doors, we need to enquire about the level and quality of education one gets imparted with. Although India scored well in improving from mere 12% literacy at the time of independence to 74% as per 2011 census, it still lags behind the world average of 84%. Targeted programs at primary and secondary education like SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) have definitely proved beneficial to some extent but a lot needs to be done to truly educate India. Without paying any heed to innovative learning and practical aspects we are shrinking the magnanimity of academicians and researcher brains into small potholes of job-seekers. Degradation of talent in this vicious silent manner in the past few years has amassed a huge pool of degree-holder, unemployed youth in India.
If we begin with finding reasons, the first and foremost that will strike us is the lack of interest among the parents to educate the girl child. The current rural families always consider the girl child to be more of an ‘outsider’s property’ which has to be well-fed and properly kept until she is ready to get married. Hence, the idea of educating them never comes to their minds, and even if it does, they consider it to be an added responsibility over them and a waste of their time and energy.
Next, since there is a rather less amount of money in their pockets to merely suffice for a single meal in a day for their family, the rural people give much more importance to work rather than studies. An extra hand at work is a rather useful asset than their minds in books. Also, spending behind education is rather considered to be a liability and not an investment. Moreover, the exclusion of rural India from the mainstream society has made them disconnected from the changes happening in the present modern world, and due to this estrangement, they are being stranded from the increasing importance of at least the basic primary education in real life.
At last, even if we come over all the reasons, the lack of motivation still remains as the unconquered territory which tops all of them.
In this gloomy picture of education in India, the ICT (Information & Communication Technology) revolution has paved the way to introduce some breakthroughs in different spheres like banking, education, health and the like. The Indian IT sector organically or otherwise holds enough capacity and character to provide excellent digital content and supporting technological platforms. With the advent of several corporate giants like TATA, BSNL & RELIANCE in digital education and the subsequent money flow this sector is gearing up for some quality movement.
But innovation is one thing that has no end and therefore would always invite different stakeholders like Government, Content experts, Technology firms, Users, Teaching community etc. to come together to collaborate and invent cutting edge technologies and methods to facilitate this sector’s meaningful growth. Government and private players need to come together to bridge connectivity and accessibility issues.
Digital Education is a rather fitting medium for rural children to make them take an interest in studying and making them realise the importance of studies in their lives. But, if we are to provide them with basic education, we should rather change our aim of providing them ‘quality’ education to providing them education at least whatsoever. This is because, the current rural scenario does not hold the capacity to endure a medium of proper and quality mode of education, as is being done in private schools nowadays. However, we do agree that rural India has all the more and much better potential than we assume it has, the current picture doesn’t seem to be fit enough to hold the burden we wish to bombard them with. Starting from fulfilling their basic amenities and slowly and steadily moving towards a fitting environment, is something that will just do the trick and fulfil our major motto.
In this direction, however digital mode of education has come out as a better mode of studying, it is somehow still failing at the farthest and remotest of locations in India. Moving forward, we need to duplicate the current scenario of education in urban settings in a cost-effective and meaningful way. Currently, in the urban settings, after coming from their schools, the children are sent to private tutors where they replicate and revise whatever they studied in their schools and more personal attention is given to the student there. Making Digital Education as the secondary medium of study at first and then slowly moving towards compartmentalizing it as the primary medium, should be the mode of action to climb the ladder towards our bigger picture.
For this, volunteering seems to be a better choice and mode of action. There are many local organizations, NGOs and NPOs working in and around the rural areas of India. Partnering with these organizations to volunteer and increase awareness towards education, will a better way to initiate the process. If this work is already being done, we should see how can we increase the number of volunteers we already have so that it becomes easy enough to escalate towards the larger goal.
This is nothing but creating a ripple effect through our small efforts which at the end of the day, tend to create a bigger and much more acceptable change in the world. Rural sector needs our dire attention and it is the field of education and education itself that can help us to bring out the change and make the current rosy picture, actually rosy to be acceptable!