Issues relating to Education

Table of Contents

Issues relating to Education

This article deals with ‘Issues relating to Education.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Sustainable Development Goals and Education

Goal 4 : Ensure Inclusive and Equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all



Ancient Times

  • 700 BC : Taxila University (Chanakya, Panini etc associated with it)
  • 400 AD : Nalanda University in Bihar (Mahayana) & Vallabi University in Gujarat (Hinayana) 

British India

  • Dealt in detail in Modern History (to read, Click here)

Independent India

Jawahar Lal Nehru Started Kendriya Vidyalaya , IIT, UGC etc.
1968 National Education Policy – I started under Indira
1.10+2+3 system started
2. 3 language formula given under this.
1976 42nd Constitutional Amendment => Education  shifted to Concurrent List (from State list)
1986 National Education Policy II started under Rajiv Gandhi
1. IGNOU was started  after this.  
2. Decided to promote Private schools (root cause of many ills in Primary education)
2002 86th Amendment with following provisions
1. Article 21 A added
2. Article 21 A makes free and compulsory education from 6-14 years as Fundamental Right
2009 1. Right to Education Act passed by Manmohan Singh led UPA government to implement Article 21-A
2. Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyaan to improve high school infrastructure .
2016 Draft New Education Policy came out 
July 2018 HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) replaced UGC  

Part 1 : Primary Education

Issues with Primary Education

  • Input focus approach which focuses just on inputs and not outputs. 
Input 1. Number of Schools
2. Classroom
3. Student : Teacher Ratio
4. Water and Sanitation facilities in schools
Output Focus Learning Outcomes
  • Quality of teachers is low : Primary Teaching is the least lucrative profession in India (In Scandinavian Countries , teaching is most lucrative profession)
  • No Detention PolicyContinuous Comprehensive Evaluation System (CCES) is not implemented along with No Detention Policy.
  • Overburdening of  teachers with administrative responsibilities of schools 
  • No Pre-School Facilities : Interest in education starts from early years. One cannot develop interest in education at the age of 6.  3-year-old should be subjected to play-based learning
  • Lack of funds due to low budgetary allocation
  • Shortage  of  IT based  teaching  aids

Suggestions to improve Primary Education

Focus on Output (instead of input)Use SEQI for measuring outputs (Niti Ayog’s recommendation)

(More about SEQI is explained below)
Teacher Education More programs like Madan Mohan Malviya Teacher Training Program should be started to train the teachers   .
School Management Committees School Management Committees should be made to work properly    
Increase Resource allocation Primary education should receive more resources.
Reducing political activism among teachers Article 171 (3c)  guarantees teachers representation in  state legislative councils and it  has turned many teachers into politicians Scrap this provision  
Co-location of schools at all levels Reap gains from  co-location of schools at all levels of schooling like
1. Improve utilisation of physical infrastructure – classrooms, science labs , computers etc
2. Continuity for students and improve the transition rate 
3. Single school for siblings  facilitate safe transport   

Indexes for Primary Education

1 . ASER Report

  • ASER = Annual Survey of Education Report
  • Prepared by NGO named Pratham since 2006

ASER Report, 2019 (released in Jan 2020)

  • ASER Report 2019 focuses  on the “early years”
  • It tries to check performance of Children in early years (up to 8 years in age) on 4 parameters -Cognitive Development, Early Language, Early Numeracy, and Social and Emotional Development and results were quite bad.
  • (Just remember one data for mains answer) 40% of Class 1 students weren’t able to even recognise letters.
  • Private schools performed better than Government Schools.
Issues relating to Education

2. PISA Report by OECD

  • PISA = Programme for International Student Assessment
  • Test Maths, Science and Reading of 15 years old students 
  • In 2009, India participated but was ranked at bottom. India boycotted this since 2012  complaining about questions being set “out of context” in relation to the Indian socio-cultural milieu

2017 – India decided to be part of exercise from 2021 .

3. SEQI by NITI Aayog

  • SEQI = School Education Quality Index
  • It rank States on  education quality
  • Released by NITI Aayog
  • Focuses on
    • shift  focus  from inputs towards outcomes,
    • provide objective benchmarks 
    • encourage state-led innovations to improve quality .
  • Currently the index has 34 indicators and 1000 points, with the highest weightage given to learning outcomes (600 out of 1000 points).
  • Latest report came in (October) 2019 and Kerala was ranked at the top while Uttar Pradesh was ranked at the bottom.

Analysis : Right to Education 

One of the most important provision regarding primary education is Right to Education provided under Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution. We will analyse it in detail.

RTE rests on 3 Pillars –

  • Quantity (enrolling more students and opening more schools) 
  • Quality (improving quality of Public and Private schools)
  • Equality (by 25% Reservation in Private Schools)
Right to Education

Important Points to note from (Prelims Point of View)

  • It covers Private Institutions ( 25% seats are to be reserved)
  • Doesn’t cover – Boarding Schools & Minority Institution
  • If Children don’t have Birth Certificate , he still will be allowed to get this right
  • Admission to age appropriation class
  • Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) – Evaluation throughout the year

Evaluation of Working of Right to Education Act

To evaluate the working of Right to Education Act , we have to look at working of various features of Right to Education Act and evaluate their impact and their shortcomings

Right to Education Act

1 . 25% Reservation in Private Schools

  • Private schools to keep 25% of seats reserved for children belonging to EWS

But , there are lacunae

  • Children from Economic Weaker Section (EWS) are still struggling to find their seats in schools. 
  • 18 states show zero schools implementing 
  • States have to notify per-child costs to pay the private schools=> only 14 states have notified per-child costs. 
  • Lack of awareness in common people about provision.

2. No Detention Policy (Section 18)

  • No detention policy means no children is to be detained till class 8th
  • Rationale –  if children fails, chances of drops out increases
  • No Retention policy is also a failure because
    1. Led to lack of motivation to study 
    2. Parents less concerned about studies
    3. Student moved to higher class without perquisite knowledge => lower learning outcomes (as shown by ASER reports)

Problems are not in No Detention Policy but somewhere else

  • No Detention Policy wasn’t alone provision of Right to Education . It was suggested as package with Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation & upgradation of educational infrastructure.

Possible outcomes of removing No Detention Policy

  • 2016  NITI Aayog Study in Punjab concluded that bringing back detention would increase dropout rate especially among poor & Dalit
  • Failure causes stress & trauma (&  suicides)

Jan 2019 : Right to Education Act was amended => There will be regular examination in 5th and 8th standard and if child fails , s/he will be granted opportunity for re-examination within period of 2 months. If s/he again fails, then school can hold back the children.

3. School Management Committees

  • School Management Committees  were formed under the provisions of Act => 75% of the members of this committee are Guardians of Students 
  • Innovative step as it makes parents a stakeholder in  school administration .
  • Issue – But majority of schools haven’t formed these Committees.

4. Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System

  • Geeta Bukkal Committee & Yashpal Committee has favoured Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System
  • It means individual assessment by teachers throughout the year and accordingly devote time to student to raise in those areas where he is lacking.
  • But there are problems in implementing this provision
    • Not enough teachers in schools 
    • Teachers are not trained for this

5. Financial Crunch

  • It suffers because there is always financial crunch
  • Even Right to Education Act doesn’t have any financial memorandum attached with it.

Schemes for Primary Education in India

1 . SamagRa Siksha Abhiyan

  • Union Budget, 2018- 19 :  treat school education holistically without segmentation into preschool, primary, upper primary, secondary to Senior Secondary levels.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) is to be merged into single scheme
  • Done on the basis of Shri Anil Bordia committee to reform SSA

Main provisions

  • Pre School : Strengthen pre school education through greater convergence with ICDS program
  • Integrated School: All the levels of schooling from pre to Class XII to be available at one place 
  • Equity and Access :  school will be accessible within specified distance.  
  • Better Curriculum 
  • Use of ICT technologies and aids
  • Vocationalisation of Education : Inclusion of  practical subjects
  • Teacher training

2 . Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA)

  • Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan  implements Right to Education Act
  • Sub-Programmes under Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan:
    1. ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ (PBBB)
    2. Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (RAA)
    3. Vidyanjali 
    4. Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas – in educationally backward blocks to promote girls’ education

Apart from that , there is provision of EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) and AIE (Alternative Innovative Education) for out of school children in areas where constructing schools isn’t possible. Such children are provided non-formal education by the government.

3. Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat

  • This program works on 2 Track approach
    • 2.5 Hours X 200 Days = for Reading, Writing and Comprehension
    • 1.5 Hours X 200 Days = for Mathematics

4. Vidyanjali Scheme

  • Aimed at boosting the education system by delivering volunteer teachers (like NRIs, retired teachers, government officials, defence personnel, professionals, etc.) to government schools. 
  • It will not replace the regular and professionally qualified teachers in the government schools
  • Volunteer’s responsibility is towards overall development of the child, not academics. 

5. Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyaan

  • Mentoring by institutes like IITs/ IIMs/ IISERs 
  • Motivate  children of  age group from 6-18 years in Science, Mathematics and Technology (STEM)

6. Mid Day Meal Scheme

What and where

  • Class 1 to 8 students given cooked food
  • Government schools, Government Aided , madrasas
  • Minimum content of 300 calories of energy &  8-12 gram protein per day for minimum of 200 days.


  • Social Audit , food sampling , interactive voice response system (IVRS)

7. Swayam Prabha (TV)

  • Providing  high quality educational contents,  through 32 DTH (direct to home) Television Channels

8. National Academic Depository

  • It is digital depository of academic awards and Certificates

Part 2 : Secondary Education

Issues with Secondary Education

In 2018, ASER emphasised on secondary education & highlighted it’s issues 

  • Low learning outcomes : 57% of 14 to 18 year student cant do simple division 
  • No Vocational Training imparted : Only 5% students from 14 to 18 years got some vocational training
  • Large female dropout ratio while moving from primary to secondary (distance factor) .

Other Points

  • Poor infrastructure of schools
  • Low density of secondary schools compared to primary schools.
  • Secondary Education is not covered under Right to Education .

Scheme : Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan  (RMSA)

  • Launched in 2009
  • Objective : Enhance accessibility to secondary education and improve it’s quality

Part 3 : Higher Education

Issues with  Higher Education in India

  • Accessibility : Cost of education is high
  • Lack of research  funding for research meager by global standards. 
  • Lack of faculty : Pupil to teacher ratio in the country (30:1), which needs  to improve  compared to USA (12.5:1), China (19.5:1)
  • Employability of pass outs is a major issue .  
  • Low Autonomy : Higher Education System is regulated by many bodies thus reducing the autonomy of Universities.
  • Lack of Interdisciplinary focus
  • Locational Disparities : There is regional disparity in college density (number of colleges per lakh eligible population) which varies from 7 in Bihar to 59 in Telangana 

Way forward

NITI Ayog has provided a  Higher Education Action Agenda which includes following steps

  • Designation of  Institution of Eminence – Identify 20 universities (10 Private Create world10 Public) to be free from regulatory regime  to convert them to World Class institutions
  • Replace UGC with Higher Education Commission of India 
  • Establish a system of project and scholar specific research grants like used by USA, EU etc
  • Dual German model classroom instruction plus apprentice training 

HECI – Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018

It will repeal UGC Act :-

  • Earlier , UGC acted as regulator as well as decided the grants to be issued by Ministry.
  • New body HECI will  focus only on academic matters and grants would be issued by the ministry.

Provisions of the Bill and differences with University Grants Commission (UGC)


Critical Analysis of HECI :-

Points in favour of HECI

  1. Fund-granting process of the UGC was plagued with allegations of corruption and inefficiency. Hence, transferring it to Ministry is welcome step
  2. Separation of grant functions will help HECI to focus only on academic matters.
  3. Marks the End of “Inspection Raj”. HECI will specify norms and standards to establish, commence or wind up academic operations of Higher Educational Institution. Only way to submit application is online  . 
  4. If Higher Educational Institution is not complying with standards, it’s license can be revoked (earlier UGC can stop grants only)
  5. Professor Yash Pal committee and Hari Gautam committee recommended such reforms earlier
  6. The advisory council with the head of all state councils for higher education as its members would also provide larger opportunity to States  in the formulation of higher education policy.

Criticism of HECI

  1. Transferring all financial powers from the UGC to the Ministry of Human Resource Development would amount to imposing direct state control over higher education institutions and impacting their autonomy
  2. Will lead to Commercialisation of Education & exclusion of students belonging to lower socio-economic background from higher education
  3. Drastically reduced the presence of teachers in the body members (earlier  10 members, while the HECI has only 2 teacher members out of 12 members)
  4. Government can remove Chairman and Vice-Chairman of HECI. Hence, regulator is not independent

Schemes for Higher Education

1 . Rashtriya Uchhatar Siksha Abhiyan

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme
  • Launched in 2013
  • Aimed at providing strategic funding to the eligible state higher education institution (so that they can improve their infrastructure)


  • Higher Education Financing Agency
  • set up with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore to augment research and related infrastructure

3. National Institutional Ranking (NIRF) Framework

  • National Ranking of Institutions. Like Times and QS Ranking of International Universities, Indian Government has come up with NIRF to rank Indian institutions based on parameters well suited for Indian conditions.
  • Latest such report was released in June 2020 and IISc was ranked best University followed by JNU.

4. Revitalization Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE)

  • For investments in centrally funded institutions like IITs, Central Universities and others such institutes
  • Funding will be provided through HEFA

5. Uchchtar Siksha Kosh

  • Creation of non lapsable Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh for higher education.


  • Faculty from 38 countries like Russia, Japan etc will  deliver courses in Indian Institutioms like IIT, IIM etc
  • Others can access on MOOCs platform 


  • Impacting Research Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT): a Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technological challenges. 

8. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  • Enable higher educational institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable growth.

9. Institutions of Eminence

  • 6 Institutions of Eminence have been identified (3 Public and 3 Private)
    • Public : IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and IISc Bangalore
    • Private : Jio Institute (Pune) , BITS Pilani and Manipal (Karnataka)

Benefits and features of Institutions of Eminence

  • UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) regulations, 2017 will govern all such institutions. These regulations will override all other UGC regulations 
  • Institutions of Eminence will enjoy administrative and financial autonomy in a wide range of matters, including faculty and staff salaries, student fees, course offerings etc
  • Institutions of Eminence will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over the period of five years under this scheme.
  • They will be multi-disciplinary and have both teaching and research focus
  • Faculty student ratio should not be less than 1:10 after three years of declaration
  • It should have student amenities comparable with that of globally reputed institutions. 
  • Institution should have reasonably large owned campus with adequate space for expansion .


  • No clarity on how reservation policy will be implemented .
  • Transparency: There is lack of transparency in the selection process as Reliance Foundation’s greenfield Jio Institute has been chosen
  • Further complicates classification system which already consist of Institutions of National Importance, Central, State, State Private, and Deemed to be Universities
  • Can make quality education inaccessible to students of lower socio-economic status. Hence, education will not be inclusive and equitable (SDG Goal 4)

Leave a Comment