Just as a face is the mirror to the heart of a person, level of education reflects the status of a nation. Since independence India has marched much ahead in the field of science and technology. We are among the six nuclear powers of the world. In information technology we are second to none. We have our own satellites orbiting the earth launched from our own launching station and manufactured indigenously. We are self sufficient in food production and the position of balance of payments is more than satisfactory. But the social face of India is from satisfactory. In the two major segments of social face i.e. education and median age in India, we have not performed up to the mark and have thus adversely affected the social performance. Hence to rape the real fruits of growth and achievements of the country the issue of education shall have to be dealt with an all seriousness.
The importance of education for the development of a country must not be underestimated because education is the tool which alone can inculcate national and cultural values and liberate people of false prejudice, ignorance and representations. Education provides them required knowledge, technique, skill and information and enables them to know their rights and duties towards their family, their society and towards their motherland at large. Education expands their vision and outlook, provokes the sprit of healthy competition and a desire to advance for the achievements of their consciousness regenerating truth, and thereby capability to fight ignorance, injustice, corruption, violence, disparity and communalism, the greatest hazards to the progress of the nation. Education is thus a means to stir up the consciousness of the people against injustice, violence and disparity, generally resulting in unrest and violence.
From the British rule of more then two centuries India inherited grinding poverty, ignorance and above all illiteracy percentage at the time of transfer of power was eight. Even after sixty years of independence nearly 35 per cent of our total population lacks basic literacy. More then 50% of Indian children drop out of the schools at primary level, majority of the drop-outs coming from the population segment living below subsistence level. Hardly seven out of 100 youths in the age group of 17-23 years get an opportunity for higher education. Those potting for science are less then 20%, 7% go for engineering and technology while 3.3% are enrolled in Medical colleges, Number of students of basic science is decreasing and hence standard of research in the universities is on the wane.
It is evident that our government has failed to provide compulsory primary education to the masses. India shares 34% percent of the world’s illiterate population. Under the circumstances how can the nation reap the fruits of development? The Major factor responsible for this situation seems to be the lack of will and commitment on the part of central and state governments. During the year 2005-06 total expenditure by the centre and state governments was Rs. 9900 crores, hardly 2.8% of country’s GDP whereas Kothari Commission’s recommendation was the provision of at least 6% of GDP towards education meaning thereby that provision is less than one half.
We are now entering into XI plan and allotment for education continues to be 3% of GNP whereas in the common minimum programme of the government public expenditure on education it should be six percent of GNP. In accordance with in the approach paper for XI plan it has been stressed that public spending on education must be raised to 6% of GDP so that constitutional obligation of providing free and compulsory education of good quality to children of all sects irrespective of caste, creed and color may be fulfilled.
Social face of India is poor and dark. A healthy and happy population are the basic components and indicators of development and progress of a nation. Undoubtedly India’s GDP is rising and touching the level of 9% but there is no reflection of this rise in the standard of living of nit only in rural population but urban people as well. Gulf of disparity is widening every day. This shows lack of coherence between economic growth and social progress meaning thereby that overall development of our economy is yet to be achieved. Economic progress not accompanied by social progress is of no use for a nation. There are countries having lower per capita income than India but much better placed in matter of literacy only for the reason that public expenditure in those countries is around 50% of the amount required by India in order to enhance the existing state of adult literacy.
A lot has to be done for India’s large young and blooming masses which constitute nearly seventy percent of country’s total population. Median age comes to about 35 years. How unfortunate it is that countries having much lower median age are far better than India. There are many countries having much lower median age but having life expectancy of more than sixty years.
In order to improve the social face of a country Education must be job-oriented. Education is a means to secure employment hence there is need to encourage and expand avenues for vocational training. Our percent education system is going a long way towards widening the gulf of disparity among the rich and poor students as also between students from rural and urban areas. Education in technical branches has become so costly that poor parents of most talented students cannot even think of getting their wards admitted into such institutions. We need a system of education that can provide equal opportunities to all rich and poor, education that can contribute towards development and can promote growth not only in terms of GDP but may also bring about all out development and growth such that may uplift the poor and the deprived and such that may alleviate poverty and may narrow the gulf between the rich and the poor. We need education system that may eradicate illiteracy and may provide the common man an access not only to basic education but also to higher and technical education.