Improving India’s Education System
Should the education system in India be improved? How would one feel if he or she walked miles and miles to school knowing there are obstacles in almost every corner to discover there is no teacher present? About 57 percent of students walk to school (Tetali, et al 11). 10-year-old Sarvan is one of these many children who walk every day to school. The time spent traveling is about one and half hours. The time taken is one of many problems for this young child. Sarvan receives burns and blisters on his feet daily due to the long distance and heat from the sun. This is the least of his worries: it’s the travel back home that is the most challenging (“School Journey”). Although a student goes to school to learn he often does not comprehend much. India indeed has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, and it is known to run the largest national school system in the entire world. It is estimated to have one-third of the world’s poor, and it is not often recognized for its quality. While education being fundamental to human process as one of the most crucial aspects of development of an individual as well as in intellectual knowledge. India is in urgent need to implement teachers with higher skills like active learning, active learning is a form of learning in which students are asked to engage in the learning process much more directly than in other methods. As a result it increases their effectiveness in the classroom as students are more motivated, promoting successful learning. Improving their teaching methodology is not the only concern when gender discrimination is taking place. Although the constitution of India grants men and women equal rights, gender divergences persist interfering in girls education. Not only are they suffering gender discrimination but they also suffer from caste-system discrimination at schools. In India, caste system discrimination is at an all-time high. As a result, the drop out and suicide rates are unbelievably increasing. The lower caste students are treated differently compared to their peers from the higher caste. Not to mention the harming infrastructure in all their surroundings. Infrastructure is a persistent problem in India’s society, which plays a prominent role in their education system. This includes but is not limited to, proper facilities to learn. The lack of school facilities which are one of the most basic component necessary to ensure access to education, only becomes a bigger conflit. Improving India’s education system begins with establishing active learning methodology, acknowledging that there is gender discrimination, as well as a corrupt caste system in which both need to be diminished and recognizing the lack of infrastructure in the rural areas of India.
Children of India are in need of teachers that are trained in active learning in order to improve their education. Teachers are inadequate to teach because they did not receive prior knowledge of active learning. Anurag Behar the CEO of a non-profit organization, Azim Premji Foundation which focuses on education systems in rural places such as India, states, “the average school teacher in India does not get adequate pre-service or in-service education, nor does she get the support to overcome these problems.” Students are not the only ones struggling, teachers are too. The poor teaching teachers received effects the way they teach and sadly they unable to educate themselves. Indian teachers have no guidance, there is no one there to explain the best teaching methods. Additionally, according to the article “ ‘Needs Improvement’: Despite Progress, India’s Primary Education System Has a Ways to Go” reports, “[that in] 2008-2009, on average, 45% of these teachers had not studied beyond the 12th grade”. The number 45 is significant that is almost half the school teachers. The number signifies no additional learning was necessary to become a teacher. This continues the statement that the teachers are inadequate to teach simply because they did not receive a proper education. A real-life example is how “primary school teachers in rural India often try to educate students by making them repeat sections of text over and over again” (Jhingran 3). Jhingran has experienced over two decades in primary education because he works in Indian administrative service. Students need a new method that is beneficial so they can understand a passage instead of reading repeatedly. Active learning can help enhance the learning experience of children as they feel more engaged. This method is helpful because of “Active learning shifts the focus from the teacher to the student and from the delivery of subject content by the teacher to active engagement with the material by the student. Through appropriate inputs from the teacher, students learn and practice how to apprehend knowledge and use them meaningfully” (Bonwell and Ellison 12). Students are more engaged when they can freely ask questions and are able to use their mind and body to better understand the topic. Not only are the students more engaged, but they “have the opportunity to remember up to 50% of the content of each class session” (McManus 15). The amount of knowledge obtained without using active learning is 10%. If students have the opportunity to remember the majority of what is taught in class, they should be using the right method. Also, “research has made it abundantly clear that the quality of teaching and learning is improved when students have enough opportunities to clarify, question, apply, and consolidate new knowledge” (Abhiyan, et a1 11). People naturally learn from mistakes so if they speak up about what they believe the topic is mainly about and are told it is incorrect, the teacher can guide them to the correct answer. The cycle of poor teaching in India can be broken if the teachers in India are taught a new method of teaching: active learning.
Gender discrimination exists within the primary education system, with girls more likely to not be enrolled in school, culture beliefs regardless of social backgrounds need to be re-established by policy initiatives to empower girls. Having the highest rate of child marriage in the world, where one out of three girls are forced to become child brides. Another issue Indian girls are facing is the unfortunate belief of families who consider them to be more productive at home, as they can take care of the younger children and conduct housework. Of course educating their daughters is therefore seen as less of a priority than educating their sons. These are only some of the major factors behind inequalities. According to an investigation, 44 percent of the girls are being married before they are of legal age (The Lancet). Due to the chronic poverty, many parents arrange early marriages for their daughters in hope of better lives for them, and to reduce their perceived economic burden. But marriage in many cases means deprivation, to the right of education. 82 percent of boys are literate while only 65 percent of the girls can read and write (Urvasi,). The disparity between boys and girls is clearly visible, the absence of girls is proven by the low literacy rate. Social barriers prevent expansion in academics among girls, as they are restricted from achieving an education. If parents left aside culture beliefs, it would give girls the equal right of education. Marriage is not always a way out of poverty on the other hand education is, as further education presents multiple opportunities which could actually lead out of poverty. “I felt that I was too young and that I shouldn’t marry, I wanted to get an education and become a teacher” said Monika (The girl who sabotaged her own Wedding). Monika at the time was a 13-year-old girl from India, who had her wedding arranged to an older man who she had never even met before but Monika completely opposed to this. She made her calls and had the sufficient support to stop her own wedding the day off. She knew she didn’t want to live a life of isolation, she instead wanted to get an education and become a teacher and so she did. Education can be one of the most influential tools to enable girls to avoid child marriage and fulfil their potential without any barriers (Girls Not Brides). “”Child marriage not only puts a stop to girls hopes and dreams. It also hampers efforts to end poverty and achieve economic growth and equity,”” said Quentin Wodon. Putting an end to this practice is not only the morally thing to do but also the economically smart thing to do (Quentin Wodon 1). Overarching and reinforcing child marriage can begin by girls refusing marriage, they have to understand and ‘own’ their rights, and ofcourse be able to support their own decisions. These girls are increasingly aware of their rights but maybe if the governments demonstrated their commitment to end child marriage by developing powerful laws and policies, and putting the money and institutions in place to enforce them this would lead to empower girls (Girls Not Brides). Gender inequality wouldn’t persist as an unrecognized human right violation in India’s society today, especially for lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Diminishing caste-system discrimination in India by teaching the same information to all students will help with education. ”). Dalits’ are the lowest of the caste system in India but are more commonly known as the “untouchables”. Dalits’ Access to Education has been collecting data: ”the dropout rate for the Dalit children is generally high, especially at the elementary level. Indeed, according to UNICEF the dropout rate among Dalits in India is 44.27% in primary school (2006: B)”. Students in the lower-caste are constantly dropping out of school from as young as primary school to high school due to the disrespect they receive from peers and teachers. The teachers do not make their students in this caste feel safe instead they treat them like a rag doll. Teachers will often physically abuse Dalit children because teachers claim it is the only way these children can learn (“Dalits’ Access to Education”). Girls in this caste system receive the lowest education and “in one such country literacy levels are lowest among Dalit girls, at 24.4 percent, compared to the national average of 42.8 percent for the female population. In the Mushahar Dalit community, barely 9 percent of women are literate” (Dalits’ Access to Education). It is unjust for people’s education to suffer simply because they were born into the wrong caste system. This number is sadly low and unfair to punish a child for things they cannot change about themselves. All children must be given equal treatment and not discrimination about the caste they were born in to. Louis-Georges Arsenault, a school representative in India states, “Students are still dropping out, not for labor, but because they are not learning anything in schools”. Dropout rates can be avoided if all students are receiving an education. Halting the mistreatment gives the opportunity for Dalit’s to stay in school longer and further educate themselves. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) offers “free and compulsory education is guaranteed for all children aged between six and 14, and the most recent figures for primary school enrollment stand at an impressive-sounding 98%” (“Why girls in India..”). Most Indian children are unable to attend school because parents cannot afford to pay. The free schooling up to age 14 avoids the amount of dropout rates at a young age. To lower discrimination, students must be given an equal education and given respect. Diminishing lower-caste discrimination is a huge factor in education. When children are offered the same education as one another it helps students respect each other.
Infrastructure contributes to slower growth and development in education. Investing in infrastructure such as establishing adequate facilities, and learning materials will lead to further education. India being a poor country, they do not invest wisely nor efficiently in its education system. This causes students to suffer from a lack of basic amenities and infrastructure in educational institutions. Children in the rural areas sometimes have to walk 2 to 3 hours in order to attend school because there are no facilities near their homes (Educate a child). This acts as a huge barrier for most students, especially for girls as it is a danger to be walking far distance alone, exposing themselves to higher risks. The lack of facilities is not the only problem they face, by other means in the few facilities that do exist, remain in unsanitary conditions. 34 percent of the school toilets are either in unusable or extremely unstable conditions, not to mention 11 percent of the schools do not have toilets and more than 2 percent do not have toilets for girls (Live Mint). Around 32 percent of the schools do not have access to safe drinking water (Live Mint). A primary aim of these studies is to identify statistical evidence of the poor conditions these students face day to day with these being only some of the infrastructures. There is an urgent need to set priorities, of course with education being at the top. Ideally using the income available to invest adequately in their infrastructure. If the proper facilities are provided along with the necessary material and equipment to learn, this will drastically improve the educational system. Studies conducted in the United States, by 21st Century School Fund in 2010, found positive results which are extremely significant between school infrastructure and the learning development in many parts of the country. Hanushek in 1995 introduced the positive results of 34 different studies which involved production functions in developing countries that analyzed the relationship between facilities and learning mostly found a positive outgrowth (The importance of having a good school infrastructure). Vélez, Schiefelbein, and Valenzuela in 1993 also point positive results between infrastructure and learning, this based on a review of nearly 70 models of functions of production carried out during 20 years in Latin America (The importance of having a good school infrastructure). Existential evidence infers that there is a close link relationship between school infrastructure and educational performance, and that investments in infrastructure contribute to improve the quality of education. Optimize investments in educational infrastructure, it is essential in order to achieve a favourable environment for students growth, classrooms, libraries, sanitary restrooms, materials etc. are all important for the holistic development as the quality of education itself.
Given all those challenges in India, how many children are not enrolled in school? There are “50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to school” (“Education is Every Child’s Birth Right”). The number is significantly high which means those children do not obtain the knowledge of reading and simple math problems. Although there are obstacles for a better education, Sarvan, the child who walks to school for one and half hours is willing to do anything to further educate himself. On the path back home, he must cross through three barbed wire fences and hotter sand. A fence that is meant to keep animals out will not stop Sarvan’s determination. Improving education in India first starts off with what they are learning in school. Students must be taught an effective learning method such as active learning to fully understand classroom discussions. Active learning helps keep students stay engaged with learning and helps with memorization. Gender discrimination and the caste-system can be diminished by offering all students the same education and respect they do higher caste children. The basic physical infrastructure helps keep schools maintained and parents happy. Most parents are not comfortable sending their children to a filthy, falling apart school. Keeping facilities clean and having restrooms for both genders helps parents become more comfortable. India definitely faces many challenges, but with your support it will get there one day. With the recent educational achievements seen, it has generated much optimism. As obvious it might take some time but nothing’s impossible.
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