State of Education in India – Issues, Schemes and Acts

State of Education in India – Issues, Schemes and Acts

This article deals with ‘ State of Education in India – Issues, Schemes and Acts  – for UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

State of Education in India - Issues, Schemes and Acts

Sustainable Development Goals and Education

Sustainable Development Goals and Education

Apart from that, education has an equalising impact as it increases employability, thus helping the person escape poverty. Hence, imparting education is important for achieving other SGDs, like removing poverty and achieving gender equality.


Timeline of Education in India

Data on Education

  • Pupil-Teacher Ratio: The Pupil-Teacher Ratio, i.e. Number of Students per Teacher, has been continuously improving from 34.0 in 2013 to 26.2 in 2022.
  • Gender Parity Index: It is the (No of Females / No of Males ) at any given level of education. Although gender disparity still prevails in higher education, it has improved substantially at primary levels through measures like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP). 
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio: The Gross Enrolment ratio has been continuously increasing. In 2021-22, the Gross Enrolment Ratio at the Secondary level has increased to 79.6%.
Trend of Gross Enrolment Ratio in India
  • Government Spending: Public spending on education is approx.—3.5% of GDP. But NEP 2020 aims to increase it to 6%. 
Public spending on education in India
  • Improving School Infrastructure: Basic facilities in the schools have been improving continuously, corroborated by the following data. 
Improvement of School Infrastructure in India

But even after that, India has the largest number of illiterates worldwide (approx. 28 crores).

Issues with Primary Education

Reasons for Poor Learning Outcomes in Primary Education

  • Input focus approach, which focuses just on inputs (like school buildings, classrooms, water and sanitation facilities etc.) and not outputs (like learning outcomes).  
  • Quality of teachers is low: Primary teaching is the least lucrative profession in India. Conversely, in Scandinavian Countries, teaching is the most lucrative profession. Even in its 12th Five Year Plan (2018-23), Bhutan has announced that teachers will provide salaries greater than civil servants of corresponding grades to attract talent to become teachers. 
  •  School Management Committees: School Management Committees (SMCs) consist of representatives from the local community, parents, teachers, and school management constituted under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2009 to oversee the school’s finances, maintain infrastructure, and improving the quality of education. But SMCs are not working properly due to political interference, lack of participation in the meetings and inadequate funding. 
  • No Detention Policy: The No Detention Policy was introduced in India in 2010 as part of the Right to Education Act. Under the No Detention Policy, students from classes 1 to 8 are not detained for failing to pass the annual exams. Instead, the policy required schools to conduct continuous and comprehensive evaluations (CCE) to assess students’ learning outcomes. But Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System (CCES) is not introduced in letter and spirit due to the lack of training of teachers to implement it. Detention Policy has become problematic in the absence of CCES. 
  • Overburdening of teachers with administrative responsibilities like election duties and government surveys
  • No Pre-School Facilities: A child’s interest in education starts from the early years. One cannot develop an 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.  The government spends just 3.5% of its GDP on education. 

Suggestions to improve Primary Education

  • Focus on Output: Use SEQI (School Education Quality Index) to measure the educational outputs (as recommended by Niti Ayog) 
  • Teacher Education: More programs like Madan Mohan Malviya Teacher Training Program should be implemented. Moreover, proper training should be imparted to implement Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System (CCES) properly.  
  • The School Management Committees should be made to work properly.
  • Reducing political activism among teachers Article 171 (3c) guarantees teachers representation in state legislative councils, and it has turned many teachers into politicians. This provision needs to be scrapped. 
  • Reap gains from the co-location of schools at all levels of schooling, which include
    • Improved utilisation of physical infrastructure – classrooms, science labs, computers etc. 
    • Improve the transition rate and reduce the dropout ratio while transitioning from primary to secondary to senior secondary. 
    • Single schools for siblings facilitate safe transport.  

Indexes about Primary Education

1. ASER Report, 2022

  • ASER (Annual Survey of Education Report) has been prepared and published by NGO named Pratham since 2006 
  • It is an annual survey aimed at knowing the status of education and learning outcomes among children in India.

Significant findings from the latest ASER-2022 Report (released in 2023)

  • Overall enrolment: The school enrolment of children aged 6 to 14 has been above 95% for the past 15 years. Contrary to expectations, the enrolment ratio has increased from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022 despite the closure of schools due to the pandemic. 
  • Paid private tuition classes: In a negative development, the number of Standard 1st to 8th students taking private tuition has increased from 26.4% (2018) to 30.5% (2022). It points towards the issue with the quantity and quality of teachers in the schools. 
  • Foundational skills in reading and arithmetic (learning levels): Covid has negatively impacted the children’s learning outcomes. In both public and private schools, the reading and arithmetic ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels. E.g., only 25.9% of Class 3 students were able to do simple subtraction (which was 28.2% in 2018).

2. PISA Report, OECD

  • PISA, or Program for International Student Assessment, tests the Maths, Science and Reading abilities of 15 years old students.   
  • PISA is an initiative of the OECD.
  • India decided to participate in the PISA in 2009 but was ranked at the bottom. Hence, India boycotted PISA since 2012, complaining about questions being set “out of context” with the Indian socio-cultural milieu. A decision was reached to join it again, but India didn’t participate in 2022 due to the impact of Covid on education. 

3. SEQI, NITI Aayog

  • SEQI, or School Education Quality Index, is an initiative of NITI Aayog to rank States on education quality.
  • It has the following features
    • Focus on outcomes (rather than inputs)
    • Provide objective benchmarks 
    • Encourage state-led innovations to improve quality.
  • Currently, SEQI ranks the states based on 34 indicators, with the highest weightage given to learning outcomes.

National Education Policy, 2020

NEP 2020 was launched in July 2020 to lay strong foundations for the Atmanirbhar Bharat, transforming the education sector and making it more accessible, equitable, and inclusive. It aims to increase public spending on education to  6% of GDP. It has replaced the NEP 1986.

The main objectives of the policy are to:

  • Promote universal access to quality education. 
  • Emphasize multilingualism and encourage students to learn in their mother tongues. 
  • Equity and inclusiveness: NEP aims to reduce the disparities in the education system by making it inclusive and providing equal opportunities.
  • Encourage vocational education with a focus on preparing students for the job market
  • Strengthen the use of technology in teaching and learning.
  • Promote research and innovation with a focus on interdisciplinary research.
  • Improve teacher training and quality. 
  • Ethics and human & constitutional values like empathy, democratic spirit, scientific temper etc., should be imbibed into students. 

Issues with NEP 2020

  • Funding: NEP talks about spending 6% of GDP on education. But the policy does not elaborate on how to raise this fund.  
  • Excessive stress on vocational education: Stress on vocational training from the preparatory stage, many fear, would lead to students from marginalized backgrounds dropping out early to take up jobs.
  • Multilingualism: With inter-state migration for employment, and India’s large diversity of languages, regional language will hobble some students’ learning.  
  • Federal Setup: In a federal system like India, where education is a concurrent subject, any educational reform can be implemented only with support from the States.
  • Fear of coaching classes: The NEP suggests that admission to all higher education programmes should be based on standardized test scores conducted by the National Testing Authority. It may encourage coaching classes and rote memorization

Right to Education 

RTE rests on 3 Pillars

Right to Education  Act

Important Points to note from (Prelims Point of View)

  • It covers Private Institutions ( 25% of seats are to be reserved) 
  • It doesn’t cover – Boarding Schools & Minority Institutions 
  • Admission to age appropriation class 
  • Nobody will get failed – No Retention Policy 
  • Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) – Evaluation throughout the year

Evaluation of Working of RTE Act

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

1. 25% Reservation in Private Schools

  • Private schools to keep 25% of seats reserved for children belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS)
  • But, there are lacunae.
    • Children from EWS still struggle to find their seats in schools, as 18 states show zero schools implementing this provision.  
    • States have to notify per-child costs to pay the private schools=> only 14 states have notified per-child costs. 
    • Lack of awareness in ordinary people about provision.

2. No Detention Policy (Section 18)

  • Under the No Detention Policy, students from classes 1 to 8 are not detained for failing to pass the annual exams.
  • The rationale of the No Detention Policy: If children fail, chances of dropping out increase. 
  • No Retention policy is also a failure because 
    • It led to a lack of motivation to study.  
    • Parents have become less concerned about child’s studies.
    • When students are moved to a higher class without prerequisite knowledge, it leads to lower learning outcomes. 
  • Problems are not in No Detention Policy but somewhere else. No Detention Policy wasn’t the alone provision of RTE. It was suggested as a package with a Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System (CCES) & upgradation of educational infrastructure.
  • Hence, an amendment was made to No Detention Policy in 2019. RTE was amended with a provision that there will be regular examinations in the 5th and 8th standards. If the student fails, they will be granted an opportunity for re-examination within 2 months. If they again fail, then the school can hold back the children. 

3. School Management Committees

  • School Management Committees (SMCs) consist of representatives from the local community, parents, teachers, and school management constituted under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2009 to oversee the school’s finances, maintain infrastructure, and improve the quality of education. 75% of the members of this committee are Guardians of Students. 
  • It was an innovative step as it made parents a stakeholder in school administration. But SMCs are not working properly due to political interference, lack of participation in the meetings and inadequate funding. Additionally, the majority of schools haven’t formed these Committees. 

4. Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System

  • Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation System (CCES) means individual assessment by teachers of both academic and co-academic areas throughout the year and accordingly devote time to students to raise in those areas where he is lacking. It aims to reduce the emphasis on rote learning and memorization.
  • Geeta Bukkal Committee & Yashpal Committee has favoured Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation System.
  • But there are problems in implementing this provision.
    • There are not enough teachers in schools.  
    • Teachers are not trained to evaluate students using CCES.

5. Financial Crunch

  • It suffers because there is always a financial crunch
  • Even the Right to Education Act has no financial memorandum attached to it.

New Schemes

1. Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA)

  • Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan was started to implement the provisions of the Right to Education Act.
  • Sub-Programmes under Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan include:
    • ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ (PBBB) 
    • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (RAA) 
    • Vidyanjali 
    • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas – in educationally backward blocks to promote girls’ education.
  • Apart from that, there is a 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.

2. Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyaan

  • Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyaan provides mentoring by institutes like IITs/ IIMs/ IISERs  
  • The Aim is to motivate children of age group from 6-18 years in Science, Mathematics and Technology (STEM)

3. Vidyanjali Scheme

  • It is 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 government schools. The volunteer’s responsibility is towards the overall development of the child, not academics.  

4. 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 

5. PM SHRI Scheme

  • PM SHRI, or Pradhan Mantri Schools for Rising India, aims to develop 14,500 schools as Model Schools in line with New National Educational Policy (2020). These schools will include old and new schools.
  • These schools will follow a holistic learning approach. Assessment in these schools will be based on the conceptual understanding of real-life situations.
  • Such schools will be equipped with modern infrastructure such as laboratories, gymnasiums, libraries etc.
  • These schools will emerge as exemplary schools over a period of time
PM SHRI Scheme

6. National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

  • Under National Curriculum Framework (NCF), the 10+2 System will be replaced with the 5+3+3+4 System.
National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

7. Nipun Bharat 

  • Nipun Bharat, or National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN), aims to achieve universal FLN by 2026-27.
  • The Rationale of Mission: Foundational learning is the basis of all future learning for a child. Not achieving basic foundational skills of reading comprehension, writing and performing basic mathematics operations leaves the child unprepared for the complexities of the curriculum beyond grade 3. 
  • The mission will target children from preschool to Grade 3 to acquire Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) skills. Children in Grades 4 and 5 who don’t possess the required FLN skills will be provided individual teacher guidance to acquire the necessary competencies. 

8. Pilot project of Balvatika

  • Project Balvatika, also known as Preparatory Class, was launched in 49 Kendriya Vidyalayas in 2022 with the goal of developing students’ cognitive, affective, and psychomotor abilities as well as early reading and numeracy skills.

9. Mid-Day Meal Scheme

  • Under the provisions of the Scheme
    • Class 1 to 8 students are given cooked food 
    • Coverage: Government schools, Government Aided, Madrasas 
    • The minimum content of 300 calories of energy & 8-12 grams of protein per day for a minimum of 200 days. 
  • Accountability is ensured through Social Audit, food sampling, interactive voice response system (IVRS) etc.

10. Swayam Prabha (TV)

  • Swayam Prabha (TV) provides high-quality educational content through 32 DTH (direct-to-home) Television Channels.

11. National Academic Depository

  • It is the digital depository of academic awards and certificates.

Samagra Siksha Abhiyan

  • The government has decided to treat school education holistically without segmenting it into pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary, and senior secondary levels.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) are to be merged into a single scheme called Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • The step has been taken based on Anil Bordia’s committee to reform Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan.

Main provisions of the scheme

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

3 thoughts on “State of Education in India – Issues, Schemes and Acts”

  1. Great art of work , exceptionally presented

    • Thank you. And please apread the word


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