Primary education is often referred to as elementary education. The framers of Indian Constitution did not initially include ‘Education’ as one of the fundamental rights.
However, the Right to Education has later been included as a fundamental right in India. The Right to Education Act (RTE) came into force on 1st April, 2010. Every child aged between 6 and 14 years are entitled to free elementary (primary) education.
Background: As far back as in 1993 in a public interest petition, the Supreme Court passed the judgment that the government cannot shirk its responsibility of providing free and compulsory primary education and the court opined that primary education was a fundamental right.
Article 21A was inserted in Constitutional Amendment of 2002 to include education as a fundamental right. It also specified the necessity of a separate legislation to deal with the implementation process of right to education. A draft bill was proposed in 2005. The bill was finally passed in 2009. The Act came into force on 1st April, 2010.
Present Status: The condition of elementary schools have improved during the recent years. However, some of the government or semi-government controlled primary schools are located in the far interior corners of the districts. The condition of buildings and infrastructure are poor. Though the teachers posted there get good salary, there are instances of irregularity of teachers in schools.
The government should allocate more funds towards elementary education, which is the key to building the future of the nation. If additional funds are allocated towards primary education, then surely the requirement of primary education could also be attended to in right earnest.
Thus primary education has been bifurcated into the two classes:
- Well-equipped, well maintained and well-set public schools for the rich and
- The primary school for the poor.
Private Primary Schools: It is the privately run public schools which are rendering excellent service in this field, but then the fee-structure in these schools is so high that it is beyond the reach even of the middle classes.
Drop-outs in Government run schools: The main reason for the drop-outs from primary schools has been the engagement of children in child-labour. Though child labour is prohibited by law, the government has yet taken sufficient measures to punish the offenders who engage child-labour. The families find their children working as a source of additional income.
The government run schools have less facilities to attract children. The percentage of drop-outs in states such as Rajasthan, Bihar, etc. has been found to be very high. There still exists many schools which has insufficient class rooms, no facility for drinking water, and no toilets and no furniture in the classrooms, if a classroom existed.
How to make primary education programme a success? To make primary education programme worthwhile and successful, the basic need is a motivated teacher. Such a teacher needs no classroom; he can even teach under the shade of a tree, but he/she must have the urge to teach; be devoted and dedicated to his job. This would reflect directly upon students for whom the teacher should be a play-mate, a guide, an ideal companion. He could teach while playing with the children and if this national character could develop among teachers—no matter, no other facility exists, the primary education sector would find a tremendous achievement.
What we find at the present is that even in the general common high schools or Intermediate colleges, run by the government or run with the aid of the government, teachers have begun getting a substantially rich pay-packet, but they still are found bunking classes for days and days.
The onus falls on the teacher’s conscience; if that is not there, no system can work, no planning can succeed. There should be accountability which should be duly rewarded or punished.
Role of Private Schools: The condition of private schools in India are satisfactory. The Private Schools are doing their best and if we are having good engineers, qualified medical men, able administrators, scholarly researchers we would find that they are mostly and generally the product of a private schools. The reason is the only one, along with a congenial, quiet disciplined general atmosphere, the teacher there cannot be found gossiping on the road-side sipping tea at a restaurant during school hours.
Conclusion: Somehow, such a vast country as India is, with so much to give to the world in the shape of religion, culture and moral values, suffers such a neglect at the most important part of a civilized nation – Primary Education. Kerala has shown remarkable results in the field of total literacy. In contrast, Bihar is a state where the literacy rate is below expectation.
India is a Democratic country. Every adult citizen of India have equal voting rights. Educated people are capable of choosing the right candidate during elections. Elections are held with the help of symbols because many of the voters are not educated. They don’t know to read and write. Voters who cannot sign their names are not expected to take an intelligent part in the activities of the people whom they vote to the legislatures.
As a nation, India has to advance ahead, but education is the field which prepares the youth of the nation to take the nation forward. Education at all level need a close look and should be taken as much with a priority as the defence of our frontiers. The army within is as important as the army without and proper education alone can prepare the soldiers of this army within.