Posted by: lidcblog | February 3, 2015

India’s broken education system

Boys in school assembly, Palanjogihalli, India. By Waterdotorg on Flickr

Boys in school assembly, Palanjogihalli, India. By Waterdotorg on Flickr

Sudha Vijay

The quality of India’s education system is abysmal.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), published by Pratham in January 2015, showed that although school enrollment had increased, students’ learning levels had comparatively regressed since the previous year.

The study also revealed that students had difficulty with reading texts and solving arithmetic problems from lower year levels. For example, only a low percentage of students from year eight could do basic division. This decline in learning is particularly apparent in government-funded schools.

It is well documented that students who attend government- funded schools perform worse than their private school counterparts. Studies from different states in India (e.g. Uttar Pradesh and Andra Pradesh) lend support to this finding.

My dissertation, looking at secondary school students’ aspirations and factors that impact upon them, also found similar discrepancies between the school types. These findings can be attributed to the lack of availability of resources (e.g. books and teaching material) and poor infrastructure, in government-funded schools. In contrast, students from private schools are more advantaged with access to, for example, clean bathrooms, drinking water and resources such as the ready access to the Internet. Adding to this, there is a lower percentage of teacher absenteeism and a higher level of teaching activity, which could affect student’s performance in schoolwork.

Children from private schools are more likely to come from advantaged backgrounds, with parents possessing higher levels of educational qualifications. I believe that these parents may also feel more comfortable with helping their children in academic tasks and interact in ways that positively influence their children. This is as opposed to parents with no or low levels of qualifications. Studies in India have shown that parents of children in government-funded schools do not feel capable of helping their children in their education. Therefore the absence of adequate parental guidance and support, in conjunction with the poor government-funded education system, may negatively augment children’s education and career aspirations.

In order to bridge the gap in attainment, a system must be created where the discrepancies between private and government-funded schools are accounted for, including having adequate support outside of school. Students’ academic progress can only improve if there is greater focus on pedagogy, quality and presence of motivated teachers and, in conducting rigorous assessment of conditions in schools (e.g. infrastructure) and their learning levels. As education is the foundation of a nation, India cannot grow if it’s children continue to receive poor education.

Strengthening education strengthens a nation.


About the blogger: Sudha Vijay recently completed her Masters at the UCL Institute of Education and is passionate about development issues particularly those relating to education, gender and disability. She is currently working as a part-time researcher and is volunteering with LIDC to help organise a symposium on “Gender Violence, Poverty and Young People”. She is interested in gaining experience in the international development sector.


These are the views of the author and not necessarily those of LIDC


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