The constitution of India had envisaged free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years. The target was to be fulfilled by 1960 i.e. within 10 years of the adoption of our constitution. But 60 years since independence India’s children have little to celebrate. 63 Million Of them are still out of schools. And if the present trend continues, we are still 50 years away from reaching the goal.
Although percentage of literacy has gone up but the net number of illiterate people has gone up year after year. In India the total number of illiterate people at present is about 50 crores which nearly equal to the entire population of sixty’s. In the younger age group also the position of illiterate is no better. Nearly half of the adolescent girls’ population is illiteracy. How low is the priority given to education in our country can be evidenced from the average period of schooling by an India citizen? Indian citizen, on an average, spends nearly two years in school, whereas a Chinese spends five years, a Sri lanka seven years and a Korean about nine years.
To have such a huge number out of school is a great tragedy. Education is the basic and primary need for the progress of a society as also a fundamental right of every citizen. Lack of education is the cause of inferiority complex among Indian society. The belief that illiterate parents are not interested in sending their children to school is not true. This was an excuse involved by the foreign rulers. They proclaimed that the mass of the lowest classes was ignorant, superstitions and unambitous and not care for education. The perception is still popular. It was agreed in the August 15 1997, issue of the Times of India as, “Illiterate and ignorant parents see no reason to send children to school”.
But this no more true. Investigations reveal that most of the illiterate parents are keen to see their children educated.
It is also said that children are unable to go to school because they have to work at home. But this is also country to facts. Children of poor families and labor class do help their parents in their work but not as whole time workers. If facilities for schooling be given to them they have sufficient spare time for that. After all when there are no facilities for the children, what else should they do? Hence lack of facilities is the cause and work its effect, not the vice versa.
The main obstacle in the way of spreading literacy is the lack of educational facilities and the financial burden it impose upon the poor parents. Further, the quality of schooling in India at primary level is for from satisfactory. The physical structure is awe fully inadequate. If the entire child population were in the schools as they are meant to be, school buildings would burst at the seas. At many places there is no infrastructure, worth the name.
Even under the present circumstances when we claim that the number of school going children is for below the stipulated number, the number of teachers does not compare with the pupils. At certain places there are more than 100 pupils for each teacher who has to just watch the children as a flock of sheep and gets little time to teach them. Then he has to have to teach more than one class at a time. How can this be possible? Quite a number of schools percent one man show and the school can well be termed as a glorified child detentun center.
Teaching aids are practically unknown in remote country schools. There are no black boards, no tables, no chairs and no sitting mats even.
The existing schools thus provide no attraction and no incentive either for the children or for their parents as they develop the feeling that sending of children to school is to waste their time and energy.
Hence it is the sacred duty of Government to pay more and more attention towards primary education and make proper allotments in their budget for this. Unfortunately elementary education continues to receive low priority from those in power. While the parliament discusses travel issues a constitutional amendment bill aimed at making education a fundamental right gathers dust. It is waiting to be discussed but ignorance has not that much patience and the wave of illiteracy continues to rise.