Primary Education in India – An Introduction
Primary school is the preferred term in United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations
whereas elementary school is the preferred term in North America. It is a stage
of learning which a child undergoes after preschool and before secondary school.
Children of the age group of five to eleven undergo such an education. Soon after
attaining independence in 1947, the entire concerned Government departments took
up the task of providing basic education to all children. The requisite amount of
resolve, resources, responsibilities, efforts and actions were initiated by both
by the concerned international bodies and by the statutory legislation of the Indian
Government to ensure that every child irrespective of race, gender or status were
able to complete primary school.
Primary Education in India - Demographics
Today, 18 crore children are taught by 57 lakh teachers in 12 lakh primary and upper
primary schools in the country. Over 98% children have access to primary schools
within one kilometre of their habitation and almost 92% to an upper primary school
within three kilometre of their habitation. There has been a significant reduction
of school drop outs from 8 million in 2009 to 3 million in 2012. Private schools
have also contributed in increasing universalisation of education mainly in the
urban areas. Though astounding success on the quantitative front has been accomplished
the qualitative front has been a disaster. The Annual Status of Education Report
(ASER 2012) for rural India released recently by PRATHAM an NGO exposes the qualitative
hollowness of the primary education system of India.
The National Council of Education Research and Training is the apex body for school
education in India. The respective state governments through their education departments
also are responsible for the primary education. The evaluation of the students are
conducted by the institutions themselves and up gradation decided by the merits
achieved by them.
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Primary Education in India - Future
Basically for a knowledge society it is the quality that matters and not the quantity.
It is unfortunate that the thrust of primary education in India is taking a quantitative
dimension rather than qualitative. It is basically the planning and judicious deployment
of resources which determines the inclusiveness and expansion of both these aspects.
There is no doubt that the reach of primary education in India should be increased
and expanded to include one and all, but it is also essential that we create a knowledge
oriented human resource capital base, which is one of the main sources of our economic
The resource in this regard in the hands of the government is limited. It would
be appropriate that avenues for resource augmentation in the matter be explored
and implemented. The appropriate avenues existing are:-
- Inviting aid from foreign donors and institutions.
- Inviting foreign institutions to open establishments in the country.
- Inviting private players in the field.
- Granting incentives to corporate sector for deploying their CSR funds to this sector
either directly or through a pooled fund with corporate control and accountability.
- The government should basically direct its thrust in rural areas due to the reach
of its establishment and inclusion of the needy masses.
It is obvious that primary education in India with the adoption of quantitative
inclusiveness and qualitative refinement will provide a stepping stone for creating
a new generation of global knowledge citizens.