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Rural education in India

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The real India live in villages’, this saying is as true today as it was when the country got Independence 69 years back. As more than half of the population of the country lives in villages, rural development is an eminent factor in the development of our economy. The crucial motivating factor for the development of the economy in today’s time is education. Like in the body of human being liver is responsible for the proper functioning of the body, in the same way, education acts a backbone for the economy. To explore this significant role of education in India especially in rural India, this paper tries to explain the present condition of rural education, rural education v/s urban education failures and problems being faced by the rural education. It also focused the various initiatives been taken by the government and some of the suggestions for improving the education system in rural or remote areas.

That is a “land” that yield increase Unsought, That is no “land” whose gifts with toil are bought.

  • Thirukkural – 739
  • “The best, quickest and most efficient way is to build up from the bottom. Every village has to become a self-sufficient republic.”

  • Mahatma Gandhi

The World Bank has defined Rural Development “as a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people- the rural poor.” Half of the population lives in the villages. The contribution of rural India towards the economic development is not hidden from any of us. Earlier the people used to correlate rural development with agricultural development and thus focus was only on the increased agricultural production. But with the changing time, this misbelieve has also changed. Today the concept of rural development is fundamentally different than it was used to be 2 or 3 decades ago. Now rural development includes the development of improving the quality of life of rural people. It constitutes an improvement in their health and nutrition, education, safe and healthy environment, fairness in income distribution and no discrimination in gender.

The continuous growth of the Indian economy forces the Indian government to accelerate the process of developing all the branches of the Indian education system. As more than half of the population in India lives in villages, therefore the education system in a rural area also plays a significant contribution to the growth of the economy. Education has a desirable controlling influence over the development of the rural individual, family, community, and society that leads to reduced poverty and controlled unemployment. Functions of education include imparting social change, making rural people aware of their rights, improving the individual standard of living, providing employment and income opportunities to rural people and so on. The present system of education in India was introduced by the British in the 20th century. The system so given has a western style and content, ignoring traditional structures and so has declined. After independence, the Central Government has taken the responsibility of technical and higher education. The central government through the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Department of Education and the governments of the states formulated the education policy and planning.

National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey has pegged literacy rate in the rural areas at 71 percent and 86 percent in the urban areas in the year 2014.

It was revealed in NSSO’s 71st Round of survey on Social Consumption: Education which was conducted from January to June 2014. As per the NSSO survey.
As per the NSSO survey Literacy among the age group of 7 years and above Male literacy rate-83 percent, female literacy rate-67 percent.

Adult literacy (age 15 years and above) rate: It was around 71 percent. In rural areas- 64 percent, urban areas- 84 percent. The education level of graduation and above: It was 4.5 percent of males and 2.2 percent of females in rural areas. While in urban areas, it was 17 percent of males.

Primary level students: 72 percent in rural areas and 31 percent in urban areas. Upper primary level: 76 per in rural areas and38 percent in urban areas.

Present scenario of rural education in India

Rural education condition in India has been still improving. However, the rural school has to face a lot of suffering.

The school in rural regions are very few at different far off places and children residing in one village don’t prefer traveling, considering it as a waste of their time and money.

  • Not even the basic infrastructural needs are satisfied.
  • Many schools have only one teacher, who deals with all the subjects.

Schools in rural areas are promoted to raise the level of education and literacy in rural India. The main aim of running these types of schools in India is to increase the rates of literacy in rural areas. More than 40 percent of India’s population is illiterate and cannot read or write. And schools in rural areas are inadequate and often equivalent to being non-existent. Thus, the government’s initiative to set up schools in rural areas came into the picture. According to Just Indian Schools, the conditions of rural education in India is improving steadily and the government is also providing full support and providing with many initiatives. The fee structure in these schools is also very low so that every child can study and afford it. There are many initiatives taken by the government, but they are not implemented in the schools, so the present scenario remains the same.

Though there are very few schools in rural areas, children, and their parents are showing interest and availing school facilities in these remote locations. Children have to walk miles to reach their school. Rural schools pay special attention to children in these locations so that each child gets an equal and important opportunity. They promote reading and writing and enhanced basic education. These schools also provide study material to every student apart from, meals during school hours, uniforms etc. Rural village schools also have implemented library system, which provides books, newspapers, and magazine to children. They not only provide science kits and equipment for hands-on-learning but also notebooks, textbooks, and pencils to poor children. Apart from that they also give scholarships to deserving students regularly, who wish to study ahead. They create community awareness, about the need for education and world literacy. Many indirect benefits of a basic rural education include poverty reduction, disease control, enhanced employment opportunities and increasing rate of literacy. The curriculum includes English, Mathematics, General Knowledge, and Drawing. Apart from that they also provide Value Education and Computer Education. With the help of rural education, every family and child has excess to basic primary education. Individual’s special talents are recognized. The teaching methodology ensures that each and every student is exposed to educational experience in an active and dynamic learning environment so that they can achieve excellence. Teachers also encourage every student to express their views, observations, and experiences. The main objectives of rural school’s are to ensure that every child in rural India receives a quality education which prepares them to compete in the competitive global environment.

Rural education initiative has the following objective:

  • To provide free standard education to rural children.
  • Supporting children for higher education.
  • Guiding and Supporting Research scholars in Educational Development.
  • Implementing new teaching methodologies and Assessment system.
  • Promoting all schools in a stress-free environment.

Urban education v/s rural education v Computer education is given high importance in urban areas whereas very few schools in villages give computer training.

  • School education in urban areas is more advanced especially since there is a lot of computer-aided teaching.
  • Basic amenities like no drinking water is provided in some of the school in villages.
  • Apart from the course curriculum rural schools are not able to involve children in other activities like sports, co-curricular activities, and competitions.
  • Level of education in urban school is far advanced as compared to the basic level taught in rural schools.

Problems faced in rural education in India:

India is developing rapidly and many initiatives had been taken for the development of rural India, still much more have to be done. There are several problems being faced by the schools running in rural India. Some of these problems are stated below:

Lack of infrastructure: Many schools in villages lack proper infrastructure facilities. There are no proper facilities for sitting as sometimes children are even made to sit on the floor due to non-availability of furniture. The school building lacks doors and windows, and so the wind and animals enter unimpeded.

Low income: Teachers in the villages also get very less income in comparison to the teachers that teach in urban schools. As teachers are not satisfied with their income, they generally do not give proper attention to the students.

Lack of transportation facilities: This is one of the biggest problems being faced by the children going to village schools. As there are no proper transport facilities available children don’t like to travel for miles to come to school.

Less in number: In comparison to the number of schools present in the urban area i.e., cities or towns, there are very few schools in villages or rural areas.

Lack of basic amenities: Even the basic amenities like drinking water, clean toilets etc are also not available in many of the schools in villages.

Lack of extra-curricular activities: Apart from the course curriculum rural schools are not able to involve children in other activities like sports, co-curricular activities, and competitions. Such events and activities tend to help in the overall development of the children.

Deficiency of funds: One of the severe hurdles in the education system in rural India is the unavailability of funds. Some schools do not have funds even for purchasing benches, blackboards etc.

Reasons for the failure of rural education

  1. The teachers do not get any support from the parents in villages on the part of the curriculum. Parents in villages want that their children should be provided with education related to agriculture so that they can help them. This thinking act as an obstacle in bringing the children to schools.
  2. In several schools of villages, the premise of school is also not sufficient to accompany all the students.
  3. Lack of illiteracy on the part of the parents also acts as an obstacle in attracting the students in rural areas.
  4. As teachers in rural areas get very less salary in comparison to the teachers teaching in schools located in towns or cities, they do not give their 100%.
  5. Students in the rural areas are also not interested in education because it is not as appealing as any computers, laptops, internet facility made available for them.

Suggestions for improving rural education in India

Some of the suggestions that can be adopted for improving the education system in rural:

  • The curriculum of rural education can be updated and should accompany education related to farming, gardening etc.
  • To attract a number of students and creating enthusiasm in them for learning, visual aids like projectors, television etc. can be used to show some educational movies.
  • To motivate the teachers they should be made to feel proud that by teaching in the rural or remote area they are acting as a helping hand in the development of the economy.
  • Some special sessions or classes can be conducted for the parents to make them realize the significance of education for their children.
  • To appreciate the efforts of students, some type of scholarships either in the form of gifts or books can be given to them who perform well in the class.
  • The overall attitude of the people particularly the socially and economically backward towards the education of the girl child needs to be changed.

Initiatives were taken by the Government

For promoting the importance of education in India, Ministry of Law and Justice had introduced ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009’. It is an Act introduced to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of six to fourteen years. Several central and state level initiatives have been in operation since the early 1980s. The main objectives of all these initiatives include increasing girls enrolment, improving educational outcomes, strengthening community involvement, improving teaching and learning materials, and providing in-service teacher training in villages. Some of these initiatives are:

1. Shiksha Karmi Project:

The Shiksha Karmi Project (SKP) was implemented in 1987, with the assistance from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The project aims at universalization and qualitative improvement of primary education in the remote and socio-economically backward villages of Rajasthan, with the primary focus on girls.

Since teacher absenteeism has been found to be a major obstacle in achieving the objec¬tive of universal education, the project uses the novel approach of substituting teachers in dysfunctional schools with local youth known as ‘Shiksha Karmis’, who are provided with rigorous training and supervisory support.

2. Lok Jumbish Project:

Lok Jumbish Project was introduced in phases in Rajasthan. The first phase of the project was for a period of two years from 1992-94, with the expenditure shared between SIDA, Government of India and Government of Rajasthan in the ratio 3:2:1. The second phase stretched up to 1998, with the sharing modality remaining the same. The coverage of the project is presently extended to 75 blocks, covering a population of approximately 12 million.

Lok Jumbish has had a positive effect on the empowerment of locally-elected peo¬ple, especially on female representatives at the village level, who are often active members of the Lok Jumbish core teams or women’s groups. The Village Education Committees (VECs) carefully formed and trained though environmental building activities in the Lok Jumbish programme.

They were actively involved in school matters. Moreover, this project has also successfully welded together government agencies, teachers, NGOs, elected representatives and the other rural people in such a way that they now function as an interactive group, working towards promoting universalization of primary education.

3. Bihar Education Project:

Bihar Education Project was launched in 1991 with the aim of improving the ele¬mentary system of education in Bihar, quantitatively and qualitatively. This project lays greater stress on providing education to the deprived sections of society such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women. The project allows for local community participation in the planning and implementation of crucial ingredients in the educational system.

4. Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project:

The Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP) functions are based on a two-pronged strategy of improving classroom transaction by training teachers and giving a fillip to school construction activities. The project has trained an estimated 80,000 teachers in 23 districts and more than 3,000 teaching centers have become operational.

5.Operation blackboard:

This scheme was launched in 1987 with a motto for improving the school environment. For the sake of retaining and enhancing the learning skills of children, this has been started. This scheme has brought a remarkable improvement in primary education. Nearly 5,23,000 primary schools have been covered in the beginning.

6.District primary education program:

This programme was launched in 1994 with the objective of the universalization of primary education. Its main features are Universal Access, Universal Retention, and Universal Achievement. It aims that the primary education should be accessible to each and every child of school going age, once a child is enrolled in school he/ she should be retained there. The final step is the achievement of the goal of education. The main components of this programme are:

  • Construction of classrooms and new schools
  • Opening of non-formal schooling centers
  • Setting up early childhood education centers.
  • Appointment of teachers.
  • Providing education to disabled children.

The development of any country depends fully on the education of its people. Basic education is viewed worldwide as a human right. For this reason ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 came into the picture. All educational innovations require strong community support and participation. ‘People’s acceptance and participation’ can be used as an indicator for measuring the progress of the various programmes. Therefore to spread awareness among the rural people about the need and significance of education more efforts have to be taken by the government, educated youth of urban towns and cities, teachers, young scholars etc.

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