Since farming requires strength of hands and awareness of soil conditions, the rural folk were contented though illiterate.
However, with the vagaries of monsoon playing with their lives and rich landlords exploiting them, the need to be literate and get educated in order to improve their conditions of living is felt by them. Government and non-Government organizations run adult literacy campaigns.
However, they concentrate more on teaching the three ‘R”s than educating the masses about health, hygiene, farming, money matters, human rights and responsibilities.
This is the reason why villagers often succumb to leases and are exploited by politicians during elections.
Poor, Hungry and ignorant of the ways of the world, they vote for corrupt and wily politicians who bribe them with clothes, food and utensils.
Many plans for literacy and education have been initiated by the government in the last one decade but they don’t seem to have gained momentum.
The Ninth Five Year Plan treats education as the most critical investment in human development. The Prime Minister’s Special Action Plan (SAP) has stressed the need for expansion and improvement of social infrastructure in the field of education.
A “Mission Mode” was established in 2001 to universalize elementary education through ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (SSA) BY 2010. In 2002 Constitution — 86th Amendment Act — was formulated to make Right to Education a fundamental right. Bulk of allocation of the budget 2006 went to the HRD Ministry amounting to Rs. 22,268.14 crore to the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy.
With all bright promises and mega plans to universalize literacy and education in India why do we still have children dropping out of school and youth frustrated instead of being enlightened? The dropouts at elementary school are 52.79%, while at the primary level it is 34%.
Why do children shun school? In rural areas, many schools exist only in name. Television channels often relate stories of village schools run on open ground surrounded by filth. In schools that are housed in buildings, there are very few classrooms and too many students.
Even these classrooms are dark and upped. If there are blackboards, there are not enough at and proper ventilation. Many of the schools have pop toilets, drinking water or playground.
Even in cities, many of the schools are congested with students having little room to sit or write. Many of the secondary schools have no proper lavatories. Schools thus become a dreaded place for fun loving kids. Enclosed in dingy little classrooms, children are bound to feel claustrophobic.
As far as student-teacher ratio is concerned in these schools, it is dismal. In village schools, often you would find only one teacher running the whole school. Otherwise one teacher manages a class of hundred.
Thus with no proper roof or inspired teacher to impart them education, kids would rather stay at home! Many of the schools do not have qualified teachers to impart education to impressionable minds. The foot-rule becomes a tool for many untrained teachers to reprimand their innocent students.
Many of the teachers though qualified lack communication skills. Thus students find lectures boring and find excuses to miss classes or bunk school. This is especially true in nursery and kindergarten schools.
When the little ones enter school expecting teachers to replicate their mothers, they feel sorely disappointed, instead of imparting love and care, if their educators own and force them to read or write, they start hating school and education.
The syllabus too is a culprit in driving away children and school and studies. With numerous subjects to study luminous books to peruse, education becomes drudgery for them.
The lessons in text books too are outdated and compel the students to mug the lessons without understanding. Thus students pass out of school mastering the ability to memorise rather than improve their knowledge.
Right from the time the child steps into the secondary school, he has very little time to enjoy life. Home work and projects keep him busy most of the day leaving him very little time to play. No wonder, children today often fall sick and start wearing powered spectacles even before they cross the age of ten.
With education laying stress on the percentage of marks secured by the student rather than on his personality development, more and more children are undergoing severe symptoms of stress as they enter college.
Anxious to secure admission in engineering and medical colleges but unable to face the competition, students get frustrated. No wonder school and college students end up in counselor’s room or psychiatric clinic much before they realize their dreams.
The recent announcement by the Government to reform education system by introducing more practical work in class rooms is a welcome step. In order to successfully carry forth this programme, schools and colleges should employ well-qualified and trained teachers who are capable of making learning a delight
Also, schools have to be cautious about teacher- bias affecting a student’s performance. Plans of the government to introduce a variety of interesting subjects along with Science, Math, Social Studies and language.
Also worthy of commendation. Again, it has to be seen that the students are not overburdened while opting for vocational subjects and fine arts apart from the traditional subjects of study. The syllabus has to be planned in order to make learning a pleasure for the youngsters.
Also, the syllabus has to be relevant to the students. The lessons of study should reflect on life and help them, to mould their minds as well as develop their goals. Knowledge of Indian History, traditions and customs and progress of India from Independence should be highlighted in text-books to inspire the students to give back something to their country.
Along with schools and colleges, more Vocational Training Institutes should be opened for the benefit of youngsters desiring to hone their skills in a short duration and seek employment.
Today, the percentage of vocationally trained in India is only 5% as compared to Korea (96%), Mexico (28%) and other countries (60- 80%). This is the reason why 7.5 million youth enter the workforce every year in our country without the benefit of high school education or any skill for the job market. Such youth only end up indulging in unlawful activities.
The main cause of ‘brain drain ‘today is uninspiring education and high competition in India. From the time a child enters school and till the time he leaves college, he carries the burden of assignments, examinations and competitions in order to prove his success and gain acceptance from his parents and society. However when he crosses all these hurdles, he is not assured of accent job as per his expectations.
Our youth are the future of our country. We are lucky have a leader like Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who frequently interacts with school and college students and inspires them to realise their goal thus brightening their future prospects and that of their country we need more such leaders who instill courage in the youngsters to march ahead with their aspirations, unmindful of the hurdles on their way.
For this we need educated and enlightened politicians to lead our country During freedom struggle, youngsters were infused with patriotism as they followed the footsteps of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Today we have very few leaders like them.
We also need good teachers in our educational institutions as they only impart education and morals to children who grow up to be the future citizens of this country. To create model educators, the government has to give those proper incentives and training to make their vocation purposeful. Conducive environment for healthy student-teacher relationship should be created for a better future.
The recent efforts made by the government to give a boost to the quality of education in our country are laudable.
However, this should not remain in paper only. Affirmative action has to be taken to make education a pleasure to the students. Launching of EDUSAT, a satellite for purely educational purposes is a great leap forward in satellite education.
Print and visual media too should become tools to develop the personality of youngsters and inspire them to higher ideals. If our youth become enlightened then India can surely shine and smile in the future.