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Status of Education in India

1. Public expenditure on education is 3% of GDP. According to the World Bank, the world average in this regard is 4.7% of GDP.

2. Literacy rate is 77% (as per 75th round of NSSO).

3. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at primary school level is close to 100%, while at higher education level, it is 26.3%

Education & the Law

  • 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 shifted education from State list to Concurrent list.

  • 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right.

School Education

Current Situation

· The enrolment ratios for the elementary level are close to 100 %. In addition, the gross enrolment ratios (GER) for secondary education have also increased, even though the net enrolment ratio (NER) is still low.

· ASER surveys estimate that national attendance in primary and upper primary schools is 71.4% and 73.2 % respectively, with considerable differences across states.

· Learning outcomes - ASER household level survey (2016) in rural areas shows that among Grade V children, only 47.8% could read Grade II level text and only 26% could do Grade V level arithmetic.


· Inadequate public funding in the sector.

· Disproportionate focus on school infrastructure as opposed to learning outcomes.

· Challenges in governance and monitoring mechanisms for learning outcomes.

· Accountability systems in government schools.

· Inadequate teacher training, large number of teaching vacancies and rampant absenteeism.

· Limited options for vocational education in the school system.

· Inadequate support and counselling given to children in schools.

Way Forward

· Government spending on education as a whole (not just school education) should be increased to at least 6% of GDP by 2022.

· Revamped governance system to improve monitoring and accountability.

· School integration or clubbing of small schools (i.e. those with very low enrolment) could result in additional human, financial and infrastructure resources. States like Rajasthan have already initiated school integration programmes along with improved transport facilities for sparsely populated regions to achieve both higher quality and savings.

· states should codify the expected learning outcomes for each class and put greater emphasis on continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) to achieve the defined learning outcomes.

· Give children the option of branching into vocational courses from secondary school level upwards.

· Improved teacher training

Right to Education Act, 2009: Review

The Constitution of India guarantees free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 to 14 years under Article 21A. In this regard, to define the modalities of the right to education, government of India in enacted the Right to Education Act in 2009. It also defines the norms and rules to be followed by elementary educational institutions.

Improvements due RTE Act

· Increase in the Enrolment Rate - There is an upsurge in the percentage of the student’s enrolment from 84.5 % in 2005-06 to close to 100% in 2018-19.

· Improvement in the Students Teacher Ratio

· Reduction in dropouts rate - The dropout rate of children from public schools has declined from 5.62% in 2012 to 4.13% in 2015.

· Improvement in the quality of teachers - due to the requirement of qualifying for certain exams in order to teach in public schools.

Mid-Day Meal

· Launched in the year 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme

· It comes under the Education Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.

· Every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I- V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class), free of charge every day except on school holidays.

· The scheme covers all government and government aided schools and also Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

Higher Education

Current Situation

· India’s higher education GER (calculated for the age group, 18-23 years) increased from 11.5 % in 2005-06 to 25.2 % in 2016-17. However, we lag behind the world average of 33 % and that of comparable economies, such as Brazil (46 %), Russia (78 %) and China (30 %).

· Regional and social disparities continue to exist in higher education: GER varies from 5.5 % in Daman & Diu to 56.1 % in Chandigarh.

· There are only 22 Indian institutions in the top 1,000 list of QS World University rankings.


· Outdated and multiple regulatory mechanisms limit innovation and progressive change.

· Outdated curriculum results in a mismatch between education and job market requirements, dampens students’ creativity and hampers the development of their analytical abilities.

· Quality assurance or accreditation mechanisms are inadequate.

· There is no policy framework for participation of foreign universities in higher education.

· There is no overarching funding body to promote and encourage research and innovation.

· Public funding in the sector remains inadequate.

· There are a large number of faculty posts lying vacant, for example in central universities, nearly 33 % of teacher posts were vacant in March 2018; faculty training is inadequate.

Way Forward

· Regulatory and governance reforms - Ensure effective coordination of roles of different higher education regulators, such as the UGC, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).

· Allow foreign universities of global repute to operate in India, in collaboration with Indian institutions to offer joint degree programmes.

· Curriculum and pedagogy at all higher education institutions should be updated continuously through mandatory feedback from domain experts, faculty, students, industry, and alumni.

· All higher education institutions must be compulsorily and regularly accredited.

· Funding to higher educational institutions should be linked to performance and outcomes.

· There is a need to broaden the scope of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and tap their potential to provide access to quality education beyond geographical boundaries.

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