Having spent a decade and a half in the education sector, I couldn’t resist from taking this opportunity on Blog Action Day to highlight the issue of The Right to Education.
Education is the fundamental human right and is the basis for the exercise of all other human rights. It provides freedom, independence and empowerment and helps in developmental benefits for the individual and through him to the nation and the world. Yet there are millions and millions of children who remain deprived of this basic right, mostly due to poverty.
Education is a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.
The Right to Education provides right of every person, every child to have access to quality education without any discrimination. Normative instruments of the United Nations and UNESCO lay down international legal obligations for the right to education. These instruments bear witness to the great importance that Member States and the international community attach to normative action for realizing the right to education. It is for governments to fulfill their obligations both legal and political in regard to providing education for all of good quality and to implement and monitor more effectively education strategies.
UNESCO’s educational objectives are to support the achievement of Education for All (EFA); to provide global and regional leadership in education; to strengthen education systems worldwide from early childhood to the adult years; to respond to contemporary global challenges through education.
As the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education, UNESCO’s work encompasses educational development from pre-school through to higher education, including technical and vocational education and training, non-formal education and literacy.
The Organization focuses on increasing equity and access, improving quality, and ensuring that education develops knowledge and skills in areas such as sustainable development, HIV and AIDS, human rights and gender equality. UNESCO works with governments and a wide range of partners to make education systems more effective through policy change.
It coordinates the Education for All movement, tracks education trends and raises the profile of educational needs on global development agendas.
The recent incident of Malala Yousafzai, who was attacked by Taliban for speaking about the importance of education for girls, is one that highlights an important issue: Terrorists, Militants and the likes, all flourish on the lack of education and can be uprooted by strengthening our children through education. Why were a group of militants worried by Malala’s speech on education for girls? It was purely because women who are a section of the society who are suppressed and oppressed will be strengthened and will become independent and powerful, which increases threat to such criminals who work merely on the fear factor that they create among the people.
In India, though the situation has improved in the past years, there’s still a long way to go. We have made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three quarters of the population. India’s improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of India. Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5% of all rural children between the ages of 6-14 were enrolled in school. This is the fourth annual survey to report enrollment above 96%. 83% of all rural 15-16 year olds were enrolled in school. However, going forward, India will need to focus more on quality.
Gross enrollment at the tertiary level has crossed 20% (as per an Ernst & Young Report cited in Jan 2013 in Education News/minglebox.com)
As per the latest (2013) report issued by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), there are more than 3524 diploma and post-diploma offering institutions in the country with an annual intake capacity of over 1.2 million.
The AICTE also reported 3495 degree-granting engineering colleges in India with an annual student intake capacity of over 1.76 million with actual enrollment crossing 1.2 million.
Capacity for Management Education crossed 385000, and post graduate degree slots in Computer Science crossed 100,000. Pharmacy slots reached over 121,000.
Total annual intake capacity for technical diplomas and degrees exceeded 3.4 million in 2012.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC) total enrollment in Science, Medicine, Agriculture and Engineering crossed 6.5 million in 2010.
Though there is massive improvement in the Education Sector, what needs to be addressed is the fact that two third of the population still lacks education. Poverty is the primary cause for lack of education.
The results of lack of education are multiple. I have stated a few important ones that came to my mind.
- Child Labour (which also results in child abuse)
- Female foeticide
- Increased crime rate
- Dowry system still prevailing and resulting in dowry deaths
- Lesser number of financially independent women
Quality and access to education is the major concern in rural schools as there are fewer committed teachers, lack of proper text books and learning material in the schools. Majority of people living in villages have understood the importance of education and know that it is the only way to get rid of poverty. But due to lack of money they are unable to send their children to private schools and hence depend upon government schools for education. In some of the government schools there is only one teacher for the entire school and if they don’t show up at work, then it is a holiday. If the quality along with number of teachers and, that too committed teachers can be improved in these schools, then aspiring rural children and India can fulfill their dreams of doing something great.
Talking of quality education, here is something I read in a recent report, Lack of quality education hindering India’s growth on LiveMint.
Come June every year, and Infosys Technologies, India’s second-biggest software services exporter, turns trainer for the nearly 30,000 students it recruits from top engineering colleges every year.Its training campus in Mysore, a two-hour drive from its sprawling headquarters in Bangalore, can house about 15,000 people. New recruits spend up to six months honing their skills as Infosys attempts to fill the gaps left by inadequate college education.