Free Education Schemes in India v/s Student Dropouts: Education aims at giving us the knowledge about the world around us and changing us into something better. It is a fierce tool that gives us the power to compete with this fast growing world. It is also essential for the development of any country. Our constitution sees this as a fundamental right and therefore RTE (Right to Education) exists.
The RTE Act provides for the:
- Right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
- It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the six to fourteen age group. ‘Free’ means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.
- It makes provisions for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age appropriate class.
- It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
Keeping the fourth point in mind, India has launched various free education schemes. Some of the schemes are:
1)Samagra Shiksha: This scheme proposed to treat school education with a holistic approach rather than segmenting it grade wise. It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been, therefore, prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes. It subsumes the three Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
2) Mid Day Meal Scheme: This scheme aims at providing every student a meal that can cover some nutritional aspect. The students are served a prepared meal that contains 700 calories and 20 grams of protein. This is a great initiative that encourages students to attend school. Most students come from poor families and cannot afford to have a nutrition filed meal or any meal at all. This scheme ensures that students attend school so they can consume a proper meal.
3) Scheme for Infrastructure Development in Minority Institutes (IDMI)-This scheme aims at creating and strengthening infrastructure and expand facilities for the minority groups. This scheme aims at the covering the whole country as a whole but preference is given to the minority communities. These facilities will cater for the needs of girls and children with special needs as well.
4) Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM). The sPQEM aims at bringing about qualitative improvement in Madrasas to enable Muslim children attain standards of the national education system in formal education subjects. Some features of this scheme are:
- To strengthen capacities in Madrasas for teaching of the formal curriculum subjects like Science, Mathematics, Language, Social Studies etc. through enhanced payment of teacher honorarium.
- Provide regular training to teachers and installing science labs and computer labs.
- Creating linkages between Madrasas and NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling)
- The NIOS linkage will be extended under this scheme for Vocational Education at the secondary and higher secondary stage of Madrasas.
5) Saakshar Bharat: This programme does not just aim at reading, writing and arithmetic. It focuses on creating social awareness of social problems and disparities and what is it like to be deprived. This programme was formulated in 2009 with the simple objective of achieving 80% literacy level at national level, by focusing on adult women literacy seeking – to reduce the gap between male and female literacy to not more than 10 percentage points.
6) Kanya Saaksharta Protsahan Yojna – The basic objective of this scheme is to reduce the dropout rate & to increase the interest of Tribal Girl Students to continue their study. These students are given an incentive to continue studying. Rs. 500 is given to those girls who continue study in class VI, Rs. 1000 to girls who get admission in IX & Rs. 2000 to girls who gets admission in XI.
These schemes are made for the benefit of the students and the country. But like most things in our country, these schemes have loopholes or fail at achieving their goals. They have bad documentation/records or lack at monitoring how these schemes are operating. This is also because India is a highly populated country which only worsens the problem at hand.
Even after these free education schemes, a serious problem continues to prevail. The problem of students dropping out of schools. This is sometimes a voluntary choice or could be the result of terrible circumstances. Education is the basic foundation of a successful future and these children lose out on something monumentally important. Accessibility, Poverty and Availability are some of the main reasons as to why students drop out. A single classroom is allotted to students from the 1st grade to the 7th grade, this creates chaos and poor learning. Some schools are located very far and lead to dropouts of primary students and girl who cannot make the commute. Our country lacks transport facilities, making these schools inaccessible.
Some schools lack infrastructure and good teachers. These teachers aren’t trained, lack experience or don’t have the skills to cater to large groups of children. The curriculum does not match what the students are taught or need to be taught. Another major reason is the lack of interest. This is because they refuse to learn certain subjects or lack attention. If a student finds a certain subject hard or boring, it is only natural that they would not pay attention. It is the job of the teachers to keep the students intrigued and well rounded. Another reason could be the academic pressure from the parents or school.
Supporting the family often come in the way of acquiring an education. These students start helping with domestic chores, in the field or provide to the family income.
The student’s attitude and outlook towards education also creates an impact. Their values may differ from that of the school and this creates a hindrance. They may also feel that education is not necessary and is merely a waste of time. Other reasons for this are, schools are not safe for the girls, lack of female teachers, child marriage or pregnancy, do not get admission or any kind of physical/mental problems.
India has 47 million youth of secondary and higher secondary school-going age dropping out of school, according to a report by the Montreal-based UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Global Education Monitoring.
Girls in the age group 11-16 years in MP, UP and Rajasthan are more likely to drop out of school as compared to boys. In MP, 28% of girls in the age group 15-16 years were dropouts, compared to 19.4% of boys. In Gujarat, 22.5% of girls were dropouts compared to 16.3% of boys.
The graph below also shows how the enrollment of students, decreases after primary school when compared to any other developed nation.
This drop out rate is causing a major set-back in the development of our nation. A severe obstacle that needs to be enrooted from the entire education system.
Article prepared by: Damini Aggarwal, Intern, Talaash Association
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