Maddipatla Foundation believes education is a fundamental right of every citizen
Despite a major improvement in literacy rates during the 1990s, the number of children who are not in school remains high. Gender disparities in education persist: far more girls than boys fail to complete primary school.
The literacy rate jumped from 52 per cent in 1991 to 65 per cent in 2001. The absolute number of non-literates dropped for the first time and gross enrolment in government-run primary schools increased from over 19 million in the 1950s to 114 million by 2001.
90 million females in India are non-literate But 20 per cent of children aged 6 to14 are still not in school and millions of women remain non-literate despite the spurt in female literacy in the 1990s. Women are not learning. On top of that women’s participation in school is particularly poor—a fact which does not bode well for women’s standing in society or the job market.
Several problems persist: issues of ‘social’ distance – arising out of caste, class and gender differences – deny children equal opportunities. Child labour in some parts of the country and resistance to sending girls to school remain real concerns.
A persistant child labor problem exists. In India, an estimated 11 million children work as child laborers. It is an unacceptable truth that it is both a cause and by-product of India’s continuing cycle of illiteracy.
School attendance is improving: more children than ever between the ages of 6 and 14 are attending school across the country. The education system faces a shortage of resources, schools, classrooms and teachers. Girls belonging to marginalized social and economic groups are more likely to drop out of school at an early age.
But at the same time critics say simply raising enrollment isn't the answer. Most individuals unfamiliar with India’s education crisis would expect that a lack of school access is the primary problem. However, although 96.5% percent of children are officially enrolled in school, half of them cannot read.
Even the literate are lagging. Even India’s literate children continue to struggle and lag behind acceptable learning levels. In many cases, they're attending, but just not learning.
Teachers are falling short. In addition to low student attendance, in many regions teacher attendance is very low. Furthermore, many schools have only one teacher per classroom, and far too many children per teacher.
There are also concerns relating to teacher training, the quality of the curriculum, assessment of learning achievements and the efficacy of school management. Given the scarcity of quality schools, many children drop out before completing five years of primary education; many of those who stay on learn little.
With one upper primary school for every three primary schools, there are simply not enough upper primary centers even for those children who complete primary school. For girls, especially, access to upper primary centers becomes doubly hard.
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