Falling government school enrolment is alarming and it needs to be addressed soon

Source: Indian Express

Relevance: Articles highlight the need for reforms in India’s education system.

Synopsis: Need reforms on governance, performance management, and English instruction to strengthen public education in India.

  • The proportion of India’s children attending a government school has now declined to 45 percent.
  • Whereas this number is 85 percent in America, 90 percent in England, and 95 percent in Japan.
  • This enrollment decline happened despite higher teacher salaries, teacher qualifications, and government spending.
  • This needs to be addressed because a quality, free and regular school education represents our most potent infrastructure of opportunity, a fundamental duty of the state.
Challenges and Issues
  1. There is an issue of a huge dropout ratio and poor learning outcomes. For instance, only 50 percent of Grade 5 children being able to read a grade 2 text.
  2. There are too many schools and 4 lakh schools have less than 50 students. Whereas China with a similar total student has only 30 percent of our school number.
  3. Only 26 per cent of kids studies in English. Though, English has remained a significant factor for higher education pathways and employability.
What needs to be done?
  1. Performance management, currently equated with teacher attendance, needs evaluation of scores, skills, competence, and classroom management. Scores need continuous assessments or end-of-year exams.
  2. Teacher competence should be evaluated on child interaction, knowledge, planning capacity, communication, feedback abilities, and collaboration.
  3. Classroom management needs assessment by classroom observation of learning, physical set-up, instructional differentiation, and communication.
  4. Governance must shift from control of resources to learning outcomes. It includes learning design, responsiveness, teacher management, community relationships, integrity, fair decision-making, and financial sustainability.
  5. Apart from reading, writing, and arithmetic, our education system should stress the need for competency and English awareness.
  6. Currently, Education Policy is into Lists I (Centre), II (State), and III (concurrent jurisdiction). This fragmentation needs to be revisited because it tends to concentrate decisions that should be made locally.
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