Access to education in India has been a challenge for the Indian government since its independence. Equality in accessing education is primarily affected by the social caste system prevalent in the Indian culture. The communities within the state point out various causes of the education problem that equally affect the education seeking behavior among the Indian families. Education is a necessity sought in early childhood, and it is pursued to adulthood. The knowledge gained through education at a tender age is essential in one’s growth and development. Although strategies are put to solve the problem at hand, few people show commitment urge for educating their children. Primary school education in India is my compelling issue of research because the country has a caste system and many mother tongue languages, with more than 20 official languages influencing primary education. With a caste system in place, it is obvious how primary education is difficult to access. Investigating the topic using credible sources will illustrate why it is a problem worth studying in the developing country such as India. While exploring diverse sources, the paper seeks to explain the problem of primary school education in India and the impact on international development.
Overview of Primary School Education
The majority of schools in India have poor primary education systems. Although the economy of India shows steady growth, the education system develops slowly. According to Sibal, there has been a marked increase in primary schools from the first 1,26,335 primary schools in 2008. The 0.17% increase in the number of primary schools reflects a comparative decrease in students to classroom ratio, while the percentage of independent state school is 62.94.
At the same time, 87.30% of the total 8,09,108 schools are located in the rural areas of India as compared to those in the urban areas. While the rural regions are highly populated, there are fewer schools present to cater for the number of primary school-going children, yet a majority of the people in the villages living below poverty line is spread over 600,000 villages. Although the growth of schools has been at a small percentile, the Indian government has involved itself in setting rural schools and the sensitization of institutions in teacher instruction. Setting up primary schools in the remote regions of India where the “untouchable” groups live fosters equality in the access to education. Since the government had not focused on this in earlier years, access was limited to many Indian children. A majority of Indians living below poverty line as illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1 shows a graphical representation of populations below poverty line depending on location. The graph shows that individuals living in urban areas have lower poverty levels as compared to those in rural areas. Even when summing up the economic levels of both groups, the rural’s was still high. Although there is marked poverty ranges between the groups, poverty levels decline as years progress. In the year 1973 the poverty level ranged between 49-56.4 % in correlation to 1999 when it was between 23.6 and 27.1%.
Historical Context of Education
Social stratification entrenched the Indian education system, and this influence stems from the social-economic difference. The government of India had a problem in primary schools because of the social effects of the ancient social caste system. The system led to some cultures suffering from the low levels of literacy due to the discrimination in access to education. The caste system history not only limits the access to primary school but also affirms the historical happening in India. The lack of a school system affects literacy levels and the social and economic levels of Indian citizens. Bottaro and Stanley explain the various cultures divided in caste system, such as the Dalits, that were continually denied education in the 1850s. The highest in the rank were the Brahmins followed by theKshatriyas, the Vaishyas, the Shudras, and the Dalits at the lowest level, as shown in Figure 3. All these levels had different ascribed roles in Indian society. Since the Dalits are the individuals receiving total cultural pressure of discrimination, they have opted to convert to other religions to have equality in education and social-economic status quo. The first three levels access education comfortably without discrimination.
Figure 2 shows the caste system that was classified into two major groups; the touchable and untouchables. The touchables had four subgroups of which at the top of the caste were Bhramin that were highly educated and most of its individuals were priests. It was followed by the Kshtryia that were warriors and kings, then the Vaishya that were mostly landowners, and finally the Sudra that were commoners. Resources in these classes were allocated according to the caste system. The Untouchables were out casts and were never allowed to access resources and services such as money and education respectively. It is the reason for the type of jobs each level is associated with.
Challenges Facing Primary School Education
Primary schools face considerable challenges that make children fail to access education 69 years after India gaining its independence. Although the government urges states to provide free education, there is a little turnover rate. Of the 80% of children that start school at first grade, approximately 50% of them continue to eighth grade. This fact indicates that primary schools face various problems due to the high dropout rate. Sood points out the lack of proper management in the running of Indian schools. Management influences the quality of education offered in rural and urban schools. At the same time, Majumdar and Mooij state that nearly half of the children are in inappropriate learning levels due to lack of parental and children understanding, and the lack of authority monitoring. Monitoring and evaluation are a hallmark in the provision of quality education.
Another problem of primary education is the issue of many languages in India. With 22 official and 1,500 mother tongue languages, offering primary education is a tough task. Training teachers to understand the official languages for communication and teaching purposes becomes critical if all children in the state are put into consideration. While the states think teaching the children makes them better placed in society and the education system, it creates diversities between the urban children preferring English as the medium of school and the rural children using mother tongue. The language issue continues to be a spanning factor into illiteracy levels as of a 2011 census. At the same time, there is a deficiency in the institutions offering teacher education in many states, which forces schools to hire less qualified teachers and it significantly affects the quality of education in primary schools. Ram acknowledges that the teacher shortage in primary schools is 689,000.
Impact on International Development
Education is the primary link to economic growth and international development. The presence of a functional and an apt school system solves the issues related to information technology, economics, health, and politics that collectively affect international development. According to Awan et al, the variations brought forth in the education system arise from illiteracy and poor genesis in the teaching at primary school. Education is essential in breaking the poverty cycle, strategic monitoring of programs geared to promoting equitable access to education, and the eradication of poverty. A growing economy is characterized by a strong workforce in a competitive employment. It is crucial in the growth of a country to be developed through infrastructure and other resources. Through education, the economy develops and it can take part in international development.
Since education and international development influence each other, the international community can set up systems such as policies that govern the education system. According to Sood, it can influence such policies as equal access to education for all Indian cultures, equality of genders, and proper allocation of the country’s resources geared at promoting primary education. It strengthens the efforts put into pedagogical approaches and skills that support development. More to say, people are educated on the importance of education, as they are sensitized on the demand of breaking up the illiteracy cycle. Scholars point out the importance of learning achievement in the principles of development education at individual and collective levels in the state. Using the international development to strengthen the Indian education system will improve education outcomes of developing countries in the elimination of extreme poverty.
The transformative power of education helps states realize visions essential in global development issues such as the economy, equality in education, and the millennium development goals. Sood maintains that education majorly influences international development; therefore, India needs to put up measures to increase the education access of all children irrespective of their residence and family income. Since education influences the international community through country sustenance levels, literacy level, conflict management, and economic growth, the international community in turn guides and offers policies, such as in gender equality in education, that support education in primary schools.
Primary school education in India faces considerable challenges since it is influenced by the history of the Indian culture of a caste system that dictates a person's place and position in the community as well as access to resources such as education. For instance, the Dalits were among the discriminated cultures that had no access to formal education. They were entitled to perform outcast activities like sweeping and washing latrines, which was different from the Bhramin who had access to everything because they occupied the top level of hierarchy. With India being a developing country, several factors interplay to influence the quality of primary school education. The economy of the developing state controls infrastructure such as institutions present for teacher training.
The knowledge acquired needs to be quality identifying with a common language, such as English, that is used in urban regions. Having an equitable system in India will help put up systems aimed at building up enough schools for education, thereby eradicating the challenges primary schools face. Since education starts at the primary level in India similarly to other countries, proper foundation in children' education is essential in a developing economy. A strong economy fosters international development for its cyclical growth. While the paper has explored the problem in Indian primary schools, it is evident that the culture, economy, and illiteracy levels in the population are the greatest challenges that hinder international development and equity in education access in India.