The new education policy by TSR Subramanian has found that while there is a significant rise in the enrollment in primary school education, there are high instances of students dropping out of schools. There are gaps in the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education, and there is an alarming trend for those who have spent many years acquiring higher education but have not gained employment in relevant fields.
The report has come into being after extensive consultations with stakeholders in the education field, eliciting various views. According to TSR Subramanian, the committee examined over 5,000 responses and met with over 400 professors to get various points of view. The new exhaustive education policy highlights the issues that plague the current education system and before a framework is put into place, some of the glaring deficiencies of the system should be understood, and quality in the education system is grossly lacking, finds the report.
High enrollment but drop outs on the rise
According to the study, though there has been an increase in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), which at the primary levels (Class 1 to Class 5) stands at 100.1 percent, there are a large number of children who drop out of school before completing their primary education — four out of 10 children enrolled in Class 1 left school before finishing Class 7.
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)’s 2014 survey also found that nearly half of Class 5 students were unable to even read at Class 2 level. There is a remarkable disconnect between the GER — which is quite high — and the quality of education, in terms of what students are actually taking away from education. The report highlights the abysmal state of affairs in school systems, especially in government schools.
“ASER 2014 found that over 75 percent of all children in Class III, over 50 percent in Class V and over 25 percent in Class VIII could not read texts meant for the Class II level,” states the new education policy report. A disturbing revelation in the report is that these numbers have only been deteriorating from 2010. The report is abundantly clear on its findings that the biggest challenge for the Indian education system is the poor learning outcome.
The report asserts that social and income disparities are reflected in significant gaps in learning levels and these gaps are not shrinking, but in fact, are widening. Children from underprivileged and economically weaker sections and first generation learners are exhibiting lower learning outcomes. “Absence of teachers; lack of incentives; and low academic standards in government schools have contributed to the rise of the private sector in secondary school education,” states the report.
Higher education, lower standards
This level of misery in the primary school education has an effect on the child’s progress in the secondary and tertiary stages of education — the gap only seems to be getting wider. What we then have is a higher education that has incredibly poor outcomes.
The GER for higher education is just 23.6 percent in India. The report finds that higher education is not necessarily synonymous with employability of the students — most of them though having spent significant years in acquiring higher education have been unable to secure jobs within the respective fields. “There a clear gap between the focus and quality of education in academia and the actual skills required by industry,” the report highlights.
Accessibility and enrollment numbers have improved vastly, but there is a massive tumor that is threatening a sustained improvement in the quality of education — issues which have not been even “addressed adequately either in policy or in practice.” It is therefore evident that the new national policy on education must focus of improving the quality and not just the quantity.