The Concept And Phenomenon Of Modern Education Education Essay

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INTRODUCTION

The concept and phenomenon of modern education in India is a result of westernization. In India modern education started under the British. Gradually a new educational organization came up which classified education into primary (vernacular), secondary school and college/university. The British encouraged higher education in English medium and neglected primary education since it was being taught in Hindi. Thus only rich and the upper caste had access to this modern higher education system. After independence government tried to spread primary education in villages and to the masses.

In this project , I have mainly focused on the causes of lower school attendance and drop outs at elementary level (age 6-14 years) and discussed some of the plans that are adopted by the government in this context and have given some suggestions based on my limited knowledge of the problem to minimise drop outs.

CURRENT SITUATION

The Directive Principles of State Policy in our constitution directs the states to ensure free education to all but for decades enrolments in school remain low since the state did not take many actions on providing free education to all. However, "the elementary education in rural India began to change rapidly due to the new thrusts given by the government's New National Policy of Education (1986) and the Programme of Action (1992), which aimed at improving access, reducing dropouts and improving learning achievements for all children between 6-14 years of age. Some of the major initiatives which had a deep impact on status of primary education in India were Operation Blackboard (1986), Non formal Education Scheme (1986), the Shiksha Karmi Project (1987) , Mahila Samakya (1989) , Lok Jumbish (1992), the District Primary Education Programme (1994), the Mid Day Meal Scheme (1995) and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (2001), which aimed at completion of eight years of schooling by all children between 6-14 years ,by 2010." [Social Context of Elementary Education in Rural India by Azim Premji Foundation] Even after these schemes the attendance rates in schools remained low even though the enrolment rates increased. Statistics show that the learning achievements have also been low and most of the students have low achievement scores which shows that the amount of learning that is taking place is little.

Table: Drop-out Rates at Primary and Upper

Primary Levels, 1999-2000 to 2004-05

Stage

1999-2000*

2000-01*

2001-02*

2002-03*

2003-04*

2004-05*

Class I-V

Boys

38.7

39.7

38.4

35.9

33.7

31.37

Girls

42.3

41.9

39.9

33.7

28.6

24.82

Total

40.3

40.7

39.0

34.9

31.5

28.49

Stage

1999-2000*

2000-01*

2001-02*

2002-03*

2003-04*

2004-05*

Class I-VIII

Boys

52.0

50.3

52.9

52.3

51.8

50.10

Girls

58.0

57.7

56.9

53.4

52.9

50.76

Total

54.5

53.7

54.6

52.8

52.3

50.39

Source: SES, MHRD * Provisional

CAUSES FOR LOW ATTENDANCE AND DROP OUTS

It has been widely acknowledged that the socio-economic conditions in rural India have constrained the process of primary education and the social inequalities of caste, class and gender have been identified as the major causes of educational deprivation among children in India. A large proportion of children from the economically poor and socially disadvantaged groups and girls, especially in rural areas, are either denied access or are failing to complete even five years of basic education. So, the focus has now shifted from enrolments to primary school completion in rural areas.

Table : Reasons for Dropouts in age group (5-14)

Reasons

Total(%)

Male(%)

Female(%)

Children Not Interested in studies

37.2

33.1

31.3

Parents not interested in studies

12.5

7.8

17.4

Unable to Cope

16.4

1.7

8.1

To work for wage/salary

2.5

1.0

1.0

Participation in other economic activities

6.1

7.2

5.0

Attend to domestic duties

3.7

0.8

6.7

Financial Constraints

11.2

12.0

10.4

Other Reasons

7.9

0.9

9.8

Source: Usha Jayachandran calculation from NSS 52nd round data

On the basis of class, Large Scale Survey-based statistics reveal that the majority of in-school children are from economically better off sections, while the majority of out of school children belong to poorer sections. Analysis of enrolment patterns for different income groups from the NFHS data show that only half the children in the bottom 40% households were studying in schools as against more than 90% in the top 20%.In India, gender gap has persisted in primary schooling, right since independence. Though the situation continues to improve, girls still have had lower enrolments, lower attendance rates, as well as higher dropout rates as compared to boys. Census, NSSO and NCAER data all show that members of Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, who have been historically disadvantaged socially, economically and educationally, have had lower school participation in terms of enrolment and retention compared to general population. Surveys have also shown that Muslims as a religious minority are at a religious disadvantage educationally with only 61.8% being enrolled compared to Hindus (72 %). NFHS II data on the level of education by background characteristics shows that Christian, Sikh and Jain women have substantially higher literacy compared to Hindu and Muslim women. So, the results as brought out by surveys and census clearly demonstrate the continuing role of income, caste and gender disparities in school participation and completion. So, in the next part of the report the focus will be on how the above mentioned factors bring out disparities in enrolments and drop outs at elementary level.

To reach the grassroots of the subject of elementary education in India, it is very important to understand the overall socio-economic environment in which a person or a group lives. This includes the family and the extended kin group ,the caste hierarchy, the economic conditions and class relations, the religious beliefs and practices and the social demography of the region. The educational decisions are governed by family/household decisions. As Jean Dreze puts it aptly, "Literacy achievements in India depend crucially on the social context." So ,broadly the factors on which elementary education in India is dependent can be classified as follows:

Economic Factors: mainly dealing with poverty, child work, schooling costs .

The socio-cultural factors: such as marriage and kinship patterns resulting in gender disparities in education; caste hierarchy and discrimination leading to educational deprivation of certain low castes; the role of religion in educational attainments.

The socio- demographic factors: such as the health status of children, their birth order in the family, age at marriage, family size, migration, etc.

ECONOMIC FACTORS

The role of economic factors and their influence on educational decisions of families is widely acknowledged. According to the Probe Report, "Education is treated as an investment" (Probe Report 1999).Especially in rural context, under conditions of socio-economic deprivation, costs and benefits of this 'investment' are rationally analyzed in terms of two aspects:

Expectations of benefits, which may be economic and non-economic in nature.

The ability of families to sustain both the direct and indirect costs in schooling.

The absence of any of these could lead to a situation of educational deprivation characterized by non-enrolment, irregular attendance and discontinuance. Available evidence from studies and statistics reveals that the large majority of in-school children come from economically better off households. The following are some of the economic indicators positively associated with schooling:

Percapita Income : Enrolment rates are lower for low- income families, while greater household wealth enhances school participation of boys and girls.

Land Owing Patterns and Enrolment: Land owing status, which is the main determinant of economic position in rural areas, as can be seen by higher enrolments among families with larger land holdings.

Nature of Occupation: The main occupation of households in rural India also affects school participation in rural India. Studies show that non - agricultural households have a greater chance of children attending school compared to agricultural families. Within the agricultural groups, the children of labourers are least likely to get enrolled and studies have found a high degree of illiteracy amongst them.

Parental Motivation for Son's Education: The reason for the high parental interest in son's education is 'economic.' This refers to the economic returns to the family which they may get after son's employment. Indian families prefer to invest in the son's education since returns of this investment remain within the family. In contrast, returns of the investment in daughter's education typically flow into her husband's family (World Bank Report 1997).

One of the factors which is regarded as a constraint on school going of rural children in India is 'poverty'. While traditionally it had been assumed that poverty hindered enrolment and completion of primary schooling by children, recent research, based on surveys and studies shows a positive trend of high enrolments even among the poorer sections in rural India. Regular attendance and completion of primary schooling still remains as issues.

Poverty leads to educational deprivation, because children, from poorer households, find it difficult to access school, attend it regularly, and continue and learn for sustained period of time. This happens due to two reasons :

Children are engaged in domestic or productive work in the household or family farm thereby contributing economically. Thus, the poor families cannot spare their services.

The direct costs of education are unaffordable for poor families.

The NCAER survey shows that states or regions, which are poorer, have a larger number of out of school children, such as Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Assam ,West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, this disparity in enrolment rates between high and low income groups is wider in states with poor enrolment rates and with greater number of poor.

In rural India, poverty is essentially linked to the nature of agriculture, which is the main source of livelihood for people. Being rain dependent, it is characterised by low productivity and uncertainty of returns. Land distribution is unequal, with concentration in the hands of a few. Majority of the people possess small and marginal land holdings, while others are landless labourers. Studies show how the context of poverty and deprivation in poor households is characterized by instability, uncertainty, indebtedness, food insecurity, short term survival strategies, engagement of children in work and illiteracy in the family(Jha and Jhingran 2002).

Such a set of economic conditions significantly affects the lives of children in rural India. Jha and Jhingran point out that since hiring labour for agriculture activities proves uneconomical for families with small land holdings, family labour is utilised. Children in poor families are thus engaged in a variety of economic activities for their family- domestic chores, sibling care, cattle grazing, farm work, etc (Jha and Jhingran 2002). The implication is that they are unable to attend full time school regularly.

The economic role of children in the rural Indian family has been a part of ancient Indian culture and tradition. Among the agriculturists, who then and also now form the majority of our population, children were given specific tasks such as keeping a watch on crops, while older children helped out in looking after younger siblings. Children of artisans and craftsmen learnt the skill of the craft through training imparted by family members. So, child work is an important cause for the educational deprivation in rural India.

Poor families depend on their children for their survival and hence the opportunity costs of schooling a child are high. 'Opportunity costs' refer to the 'value' of the time in terms of economic benefit that is lost when children have to go for labour and attend school. There are various aspects of the opportunity costs of a child time.

Gender: A number of empirical studies show that the multitude of tasks out of school children are engaged in, is governed by the division of labour. Engagement in working for their own household is more common for children, than working for wages. Studies reveal that, in the Indian context, girl children begin to work in the household from a very early age. Almost all the studies recognize girl child as the invisible child labour at home. Studies show that girls spend twice or even sometimes thrice as much time working than boys, mostly on domestic duties. Some studies reveal that the birth order determines the educational chances of the girl child. The eldest daughter is often the biggest loser, as she has to take over the responsibility of household work. By doing so, young girls release their mothers for work and hence this activity is an economic contribution to the household. These household duties are performed by the girls all the year round and may not be easily reconciled with schooling.

Age: Empirical studies also show that the nature of work done by children differs according to age. While the younger boys(6-9 years) are utilized for cattle grazing and collecting forest produce, the older boys(9-13 years) are utilized for seasonal work on their own farm, or for agricultural wage work. Younger girls were involved in sibling care and household work and in forest produce collection and older girls(9-13 years) also worked on the family farm and were involved in agricultural farm work with their mothers (Jha and Jhingran 2002). Thus there is work for every age group at elementary level which causes less attendance at schools.

Seasonality: A feature of farming and small land holdings is that it becomes uneconomical to hire paid labour, and hence most families perform all agricultural operations themselves. Studies show that in many families there is a high dependence on full time child work during peak agricultural activity, during which time children are withdrawn from school and hence leading to educational deprivation.(Jha and Jhingran 2002)

Economic Uncertaininty: Studies have highlighted though families may have high interest in education, they may not be able to translate them into action because of the context these poor families find themselves in. This can be understood as follows, in Raichur district of Karnataka, the area being rainfed and underdeveloped, is characterized by economic uncertainity and instability. This often forces family to opt for short term survival strategies to supplement their family income, and creates ambivalence in their minds in committing children to full time schooling. Since, parents are unsure about the long term returns to education , keeping children away from work appears a risky proportion for them.

Research has also shown that even when poor children manage to enroll and attend school, they do not escape the burden of work resulting from poverty.The implication of this phenomena on primary education was that

Most children did not get sufficient time to revise their books/lessons, especially older girls on whom the major work responsibility fell.

Their poor nutritional status also compounded the problem, by lowering energy levels, and affecting concentration levels.

Another Factor which is hindering the goal of UEE is the 'Direct Costs of Schooling.'

The direct costs of schooling refers to the actual amount of money to be spent by poor families on primary education. It is widely believed that since government schools do not charge tuition fees, elementary education at the primary level is free in India. However, there is evidence to suggest that elementary education is actually quite expensive in government schools, since it involves expenditure by parents on various items such as note books, stationery, uniforms, tuitions and cash payments like exam fees, sports fee, etc. which can all add up to substantial amount.

Average Cost of Sending a Child to School(Rs./year at constant 1996-97 prices)

Primary Level

Rs

Probe Estimate,1996

318

Elementary Level

NCAER estimate,1994

478

(Excluding clothing expenses)

Source: Probe Report 1999

While on the face of it such direct costs of schooling appear negligible, they can become a major burden on poor families with several going children.

Since schooling is thus found to be expensive, many families tend to adopt strategies to divide their limited resources amongst a large number of children. Poverty influences parental choice of how many children go to school and up to what level. The same household may send a few and retain others at home. Gender is a determining factor in parental- decision making and researchers have noted that parents discriminate between girls and boys in choice of schools. Despite the rapid growth of private unaided schools, the proportion of girls in govt. schools is higher.

Thus it can be said that poverty has affected the schooling of children in which opportunity costs of educating boys and girls and direct costs of schooling play a vital role in discouraging role in primary schooling of children.

Surveys have revealed three prominent reasons for lack of schooling

High Schooling Costs, referring to hidden costs of books, stationery and clothes.

Lack of interest in studies which could stem from number of reasons, from an in conducive home environment to a poor quality schooling system.

As far as work is concerned, it could be possible that children are withdrawn because they are needed to contribute to the household income.

SOCIO-CULTURAL FACTORS

After having a look at the economic factors which have affected primary schooling in the country, let us see how socio-cultural factors affect schooling in country.

Social behaviour is governed by the norms and values of the society, which are a crucial component of its cultural traditions, continuing over generations. Thus 'Socio Cultural Factors' refer to the social behaviour of individuals and groups, as governed by their culture.

The socio cultural factors which affect the schooling are:

Gender : Although this has been discussed in economic context in the report that boys are thought to be economic assets to the family so girls' schooling is often neglected. There are social factors too which enhance the chances of girls not attending schools.

The onset of puberty introduces dramatic changes in the life of a girl in rural India. It signifies that she has crossed the threshold of childhood. Many studies have shown what implications the onset of puberty and early marriage has for the schooling of girl children. It has been found in a number of studies that girls are withdrawn from school at the onset of puberty and the parents are reluctant to send daughters outside the village for education if there is no school within.

Menarche is directly linked to the practice of early marriage, which becomes a preferred option for parents. Since they have to preserve the girls' purity till marriage, they are in a rush to marry her off as soon as possible. This compulsion of early marriage makes schooling a poor option for girls, not only because they are withdrawn at puberty but it also becomes unlikely that they can make financial contribution to their parental house.

The practice of child marriage in some parts of the country also prevents the education of girls in India.

Another feature of the North Indian kinship system which plays a role in reducing parental interest in female education is the emphasis on hypergamous marriage and dowry systems. According to this practice, a girl is supposed to be married into a family of a higher social status than her own, and the higher that status, the larger the amount of dowry to be paid by her parents. Thus a well- educated daughter could actually become a serious problem for a poor family which has to find a more educated groom and thus pay a higher dowry.

Studies reveal that parents have lesser confidence in the girls' ability to earn equal wages and have equal freedom as boys. This resulted in poor families prioritizing boy's education over that of girls.

It is also important to note that gender inequality is reinforced in the classroom itself. Research studies show how girls conform to sex role stereotypes, indulging in 'feminine' behaviour (such as being quiet, reserved and non-participative) which is expected of them by teachers. This restricts their classroom performance and academic achievements and hence less interest in studies motivating drop out.

Caste : A major source of social inequality in Indian society is the caste system, which has divided the society into endogamous groups, arranged in a hierarchical order in a particular region. Educational attainments in terms of enrolments and retention generally correspond to the hierarchical order in rural areas. While the upper castes have traditionally enjoyed these advantages, the schedule caste and backward caste children lag behind in primary education.

Data from the Census, NSSO and NCAER surveys, all suggest that school participation of SC children is lower than it is for children of the general.

Vimala Ramachandran's review of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) states, found that backward caste families enrolled children at a somewhat later age, compared to higher caste groups, as a result of which the proportion of 6 years olds who have not entered school was higher among them. Field research throws up the fact that there is a clear divide in the villages, along the caste lines, regarding access to schools. Evidence from Vimala Ramachandran's study showed that almost all well off/ forward caste children attended the private aided schools, while the SC and backward caste children attended the government schools. This phenomenon is termed by her as 'hierarchies of access.' This takes place because it is the poor who access government schools, and SC populations are among the poorest. The causes for this variation in treatment of higher and lower class children can be:

Income and Caste: Income and caste are typically correlated with lower castes having lower incomes and higher castes having better endowments in terms of land, income and other resources. Thus as Dreze and Saran say, caste and class inequalities tend to reinforce each other and thereby impact the schooling process of lower caste children.

Parental Illiteracy: Studies have shown that SC children fare badly when it comes to parental literacy. The overwhelming majority of scheduled caste parents are illiterate. This is seen as a major reason for non-enrolment and discontinuation among SC children across the various states surveyed (Vaidhyanathan Nair 2001). Many SC children who thus enroll are first generation learners, who come from illiterate families. They, thus, have to single handedly deal with school life, mastering language and cognitive skills without parental help and guidance.

Segregation: In all villages, irrespective of religions, dalits face physical segregation and live in separate clusters/colonies on the periphery of multi caste villages. Such physical segregation affects access to schools. Even if the school is situated at a reasonable distance, it may not be socially accessible. If it is located in an upper caste settlement, it may lead to feelings of alienation or fear of caste tensions, making SC children reluctant to attend school (Jha and Jhingran 2002,Probe Report 1999).

Caste Discrimination at School: Children from the disadvantaged castes are also discriminated within the school environment. Geeta Nambissan highlights the "hidden curriculum" that underlies school processes, i.e. the message of social inferiority conveyed by the teacher and peers to such children. They were spared physical punishment for fear of pollution and were refused drinking water. Class biases against SC children and negative stereotypes on the part of teachers are common phenomena in schools. Teachers look down upon the mental abilities of dalit children, and even regard them as uneducable. Social discriminations against SCs in the community over a long period has led to a hesitation and collective diffidence towards education. The adverse learning environment affects the overall confidence and esteem of these children, leading to lower aspirations and consequently lower achievement levels amongst them(Jha and Jhingran 2002).

Tribe: The distinguishing feature of tribal society is that the majority of tribals live in small, scattered habitations in remote and inaccessible settlements, in hilly areas or forests. Tribals are thus physically isolated from other communities. The causes for backwardness in education among tribals are as follows:

Cultural Discontinuity: Tribes have a distinct cultural identity of their own, which often leads to a discontinuity between the tribal culture and the formal schooling system. The socialization of children in tribal society presents them with a lot of freedom and interaction with nature. In schools, on the other hand, children are expected to be highly disciplined, follow rigid timings and be confined in the classroom. This conflict between the norms of the school and the socialization at home results in resistance and an unwillingness on the part of the children to attend school.

Language as a medium of instruction: It is a known fact that the language /dialect of tribals are an integral part of their cultural identity. Though the government of India's policy permits instruction in the local language, in reality teaching often takes place in the widely spoken regional language, which may not be properly understood by the tribal children. This inability to establish communication links with the teacher, could lead to low attendance and high drop out rates among them(K. Sujatha 2002).

The Content of Education: Many research studies have shown that the content of education taught in schools is far removed from what tribals are familiar with. Thus modern education is often seen as irrelevant to the life and needs of the tribal people (Dreze 2003).

Religion: In the Indian context, religion has a sway over people's minds and exerts great influence over their behaviour. The motivation and attitudes of the people towards education are also moulded to a large extent by their religious beliefs.

In determining educational achievement of Muslims, religion has played an important role.

Role of Islam: The Muslim women have an illiteracy rate of 61% in India. Their educational status is lower as compared to the other religious communities of India. Authors have found that poverty among Muslims is the actual reason for their school non enrolments or drop outs. They prefer madrasas, because they are absolutely free and more flexible compared to formal government schools. There are also some indications which show that Muslims often send children to madarasas due to the 'high perceived employment linkages'(where they can be absorbed as religious teacher).

SOCIO DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS

Besides economic and socio-cultural factors, there are socio-demographic factors as well that have affected enrolments and dropouts.

Socio-demographic phenomena refer to the relation between the general socio-cultural factors on the one hand and the population processes on the other.

Socio Demographic Factors such as family size and seasonal migration among others have had an effect on school attendance and educational attainment.

Health and Nutritional Status of Mother and Child: It has been found that poor health and low nutritional status of the mother and child can actually prove to be a barrier to children's school attendance and educational attainment. Low health awareness among women and increased work load has led to poor health of mothers and low birth weight of babies. The nutritional status of children affects their school participation. Hunger is seen to be a major limiting factor responsible for children remaining out of school and low levels of learning within the school. It is noted from NFHS-3 data that states with a higher percentage of severely mal-nourished children than the all India average, such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh are the most educationally backward. And conversely , states with a low percentage of under nourished children such as Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had high literacy levels. Malnutrition dulls the motivation and curiosity among children and thus it restricts their psychological development and hence they are less interested in their studies which enforces them to drop out.

India has a sex ratio of 933/ 1000 according to Census 2001. Sex Ratio adversely affects the status of women in India which in turn leads to lower literacy level among the women.

Family Size: Household family size of a poor family often affects the schooling of some children in the family. In general, the trend is such that the elder ones drop out at an early stage in order to take care of younger ones or involve in work so that the schooling of younger ones can be done.

Seasonal Migration: Seasonal Migration is more prevalent in the under-developed areas, rain development areas, where low returns from agriculture compel people to migrate in search of alternative sources of employment, for the economic survival of their families. Children, in most cases have to migrate with their parents since there is nobody to take care of them and also if there are younger siblings, they need to take care of them. The seasonal and temporary migration though has led to economic gains to the family but has affected the children education adversely.

SOME STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT :

After seeing the causes which affect the drop outs, attendance and enrolments in school at primary level, we can have a look at the steps that have been or are being taken by government and other institutions to rectify the problem:

Mid Day Meal Scheme: The Mid day Meal scheme is the popular name for school meal programme in India. It involves provision of lunch free of cost to school children on all working days. The key objectives of this programme are :

Protecting children from classroom hunger.

Increasing school enrolment and attendance.

Improved Socialisation among children belonging to all castes.

Addressing Malnutrition.

Social Empowerment through provisions of employment to women.

This scheme has been successful in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat. In Kerala, The government has made it computerized, so all the dealings and payments are computerized. Also, there has been an active participation of the private sector in the implementation of the scheme. One of the successful of the ventures is Akshaya Patra, which started with leadership from ISKCON in the Bangalore community. The Foundation gets a corpus from the State government but meets a major share of its costs with donations from private corporations and individuals in the city. Companies like Infosys, Bharti and Jindal are the major donors in the programme.

However in states like UP and Bihar the condition is not so good, there have been various scams reported involving Mid-day meal scheme. For ex.

In December 2005, the police had seized eight truckloads of rice meant for primary school children being carried from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns in Bulandshahar District of UP to North Delhi. When the police detained the trucks, the drivers claimed, that the rice was being brought all the way to Delhi to be cleaned at a factory. However according to guidelines, the rice has to be taken directly from FCI godown to the school or village concerned. Later it was found that the rice was being siphoned off by a UP based NGO, Bharatiya Manav Kalyan Parishad(BMKP), in connivance with Government officials(Wikipedia).

In December 2006, The Times of India reported a scam involving government schools that siphon off food grains under the mid-day meal scheme by faking attendance.

So although the scheme has been successful in some parts of the country, the existence of corrupt elements in the society has haulted its progress in other parts of the country.

One of the recent announcement of the government is over one lakh meritorious students from economically weaker sections would be awarded Rs 6,000 per annum scholarship at the beginning of their class ninth session, till class 12.(announced on 5th September 2008)

Child Centered Approach: A warm, welcoming and encouraging approach, in which all concerned share a concern for the needs of the child, is the best motivation for the child to attend school and learn. A child-centred and activity-based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage. First generation learners should be allowed to set their own pace and be given supplementary remedial instruction. As the child grows, the component of cognitive learning will be increased and skills organised through practice. The policy of non- detention at the primary stage will be retained, making evaluation as disaggregated as feasible. Corporal punishment will be firmly excluded from the educational system and school timings as well as vacations adjusted to the convenience of children (Reorganisation of Education at different stages, Ministry of HRD).

School Facilities: Provision will be made of essential facilities in primary schools, including at least two reasonably large rooms that are usable in all weather, and the necessary toys, blackboards, maps, charts, and other learning material. At least two teachers, one of whom a woman, should work in every school, the number increasing as early as possible to one teacher per class. A phased drive, symbolically called- OPERATION BLACKBOARD will be undertaken with immediate effect to improve Primary Schools all over the country. Government, local bodies, voluntary agencies and individuals will be fully involved (Reorganisation of Education at different stages, Ministry of HRD).

Non Formal Education: A large and systematic programme of non-formal education will be launched for school drop-outs, for children from habitations without schools, working children and girls who cannot attend whole- day schools. Modern technological aids will be used to improve the learning environment of NFE centres. Talented and dedicated young men and women from the local community will be chosen to serve as instructors, and particular attention paid to their training. Steps will be taken to facilitate their entry into the formal system in deserving cases. All necessary measures will be taken to ensure that the quality of non-formal education is comparable with formal education (Reorganisation of Education at different stages, Ministry of HRD).

Role played by Christian Missionaries: The Christian Missionaries have played a significant role in spreading the education in India. The three groups, which have traditionally suffered educational disadvantage in India, have been women, tribals and the oppressed and lower castes. The pioneering role of Christian missionaries in the spread of education in the tribal dominated states of the North-East has been widely recognized. In Mizoram, they set about developing the Mizo alphabets based on Mizo Phonetic(study of sounds of human speech). Mizoram stands first among the North Eastern states with the highest literacy rate and has also closed the gender gap in literacy. Researchers have noted that where the Christian population is large, non -Christians have also become more literate. It appears as if the school network created by the Christian missionaries has had a positive influence on other communities as well. Christianity has promoted education by transforming it into a social value.

These are some of the plans that have been implemented or will be implemented in the future in order to minimise dropouts. All the plans that the government has implemented or will be implementing are more focused on school environment and facilities, which are of course necessary for retention in school but in order to minimise drop outs rapidly it is required to look more closely into the problems of gender bias, caste discrimination and poverty, minimisation of which will automatically effect the problem of drop outs drastically.

Observations:

After seeing the causes, due to which the drop out problem is still persisting in the country, despite of some major initiatives taken by the government one can see that the major problems of the country like poverty, unemployment, low productivity of agricultural land, Caste discrimination and gender bias are strongly linked to the drop out problems in school.

Where poor children do attend school, studies show that poverty often puts a double burden on children who have to combine school and household works which often affects their schooling.

Also, if some steps are taken by the government, the intermediate corruption that exists in the society plays its game and the plans are not implemented effectively.

The process of elementary education has been impacted by a complex configuration of social determinants. In other words, social reality has to be understood in terms of the combined role of multiple factors operating in such a way that one follows the other. Focusing on any one factor or determinant in isolation will not suffice.

Focusing on the above point in northern India in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh we come into ruinous caste hierarchy, patrilineal kinship patterns loaded in favour of son, low status of women and feudalistic land ownership patterns creating large economic disparities. Thus class, caste and gender have combined to create an adverse impact on the educational advancement of rural children.

It has been observed in tribal areas of North East ,due to the efforts of Christian Missionaries, despite a large proportion of people living below the poverty line , these states have high literacy levels. Gender disparities are low, with the status of women being high among the tribals. Tribal society is relatively egilatrian contributing to a positive sense of tribal unity and identity. Thus this homogeneity in the society has counterweighted the effect of poverty in educational attainment.

Some Suggestions to minimise drop outs:

Although school drop outs is a phenomena which is governed by several factors seen above, in which gender bias, poverty and caste discrimination play a major role, but assuming that these problems keep on existing, here are some suggestions that might encourage retention in school:

Most of the teachers impose learning processes on child. The teachers themselves are badly taught and so they viciously follow the cycle. Learning is a joy. The children should feel that it is like a joy ride. To get to that level, children should be taught how to learn. For example, they should be told as many as stories. Exercise to the kids on this would be to tell many more stories to other children. Children must be formed into a group of 5-10 and then teacher must guide each group. This is basically a process of peer review. They can source the new stories from parents, neighbourhood, friends, relatives etc. And in fact, children are natural at creating their own stories. Songs and dance are very natural to them and TV, mobiles, competitions, etc can help in this regard.

Children are exceptionally talented to learn multiple languages at their very early ages. Most children in rural India struggle with the grammar rules and in turn they start to hate the language itself. The trick is to make them learn spoken language first and then to turn to Grammar but not the other way around. This has also been mentioned by Gandhiji in his 'Hind Swaraj' in the chapter on Education.

Maths is a very critical subject and children are very natural at it. However the astounding ability to learn the subject by the children is harmed by the incompetency of the teachers in turn to result that Maths is regarded as the most hated subject by a minimum of 1/3 of the all children. I think children should learn it through games. Classes 1-6 should only consist of a variety of games. All exercises should be again to play at home with other kids at neighborhood areas.

Missionary schools should be more promoted in the country as they have had a positive impact in North East. The environment that exists in the school has helped in retention of children in the schools in North East.

Teacher to student ratio is very less in rural areas, so more teachers should be enrolled in rural schooling with better qualifications.

Students at Undergraduate and Postgraduate level in good colleges in various parts of the country should take up the initiative of non formal education in rural parts in their localities. This is being done by IITK students in' Shiksha Sopan' at Barasirohi village as a part of their NSS work. One can even extend the programme to teach adults as well in rural areas since adult illiteracy is also a major factor in enhancing dropouts. Parents knowing the content of what their children are studying might help the children to regain interest in it.

In order to retain girls in school, the government can introduce the scheme of giving money to the parents after a girl's 12th class completion. This can release the worries of parents about the economic problems they might face if they send their girl for education. And if teaching is made more interesting in schools, it is possible that girls after enrolling in school do not lose their interest in studies and gain benefit from schooling.

Conclusion

India is still seen to be lagging behind in the field of primary education, characterized by irregular attendance, high dropouts and non completion of primary education among children. The reasons for these lie in the socio economic conditions of rural India, marked by caste, class and gender inequalities.

Poverty has impeded primary school attainment. Poverty is a hindrance to schooling because of the costs involved in educating children, which are of two types opportunity costs and direct costs.

Recent research studies have countered the theory of the 'opportunity costs' of children with data on time utilization of children. This finds small children spending a negligible amount of time on work and opportunity costs becoming high, only as children grow older and become capable of more productive work. All the studies have however recognized the importance of opportunity costs for the girl child in hindering her educational attainment.

The direct costs of schooling, which refer to the actual amount of money spent by families on primary education are found to be significant in many parts of the country.

Lack of interest in studies by parents and children has also been major reason for high drop outs.

Some scholars hold the view that child work and child labour should be considered the same and the government is to be blamed for it.

The girl's participation in schooling is lagging significantly behind that of boys. Low parental motivation for sending the girl child to school, and sustaining it, is due to the superior position accorded to the son in the prevalent patrilineal system.

The hierarchical caste system has historically created unequal educational access so that backward castes and SCs have been excluded from participation in school.

Tribes in India have been traditionally marginalized from the mainstream and factors that have severely impeded the spread of education among them is cultural discontinuity.

Christian Missionaries have played an important role in spreading education among the tribals especially in the North East.

Religious beliefs have also impacted schooling of certain religious groups.

Poor health and nutritional status of children and seasonal migration have also affected the school participation of children.

The dull or even hostile environment in school has played a huge role in lack of interest in studies of the children.

Social inequalities on the basis of caste, class and gender have affected education adversely and if removed will significantly improve dropout rates even if poverty persists. People need to widely acknowledge education as a fundamental right of all citizens.

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