‘MODI’fication in Education

From being the neglected one in the educational race, secondary education in India is going through a transformation, somewhere for the better of the nation, other times for the party.

India is developing and improving in almost all the sectors every day. Our nation is seeing a revolution after the 2014 election, with digitalization, industrialization, demonetization and many more ‘tions’ adding onto the list. But what about Education?

Education is the key to unlock the door of growth and improvement for a nation and hence there came the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, wherein education became free and compulsory for all children between 6 to 14 years of age. But why did the whole compulsion stop at the age of 14?

Is the education ahead not important for them? Primary education in India is inclusive of classes 1 to 6 and Secondary education compiles of standard 7 to 12. As the government puts break after the journey of elementary education, children drop out of the educational drive. Sometimes, families indulge the kids in some labor so that they can start earning for their family while the other make them sit idle at home.

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Teacher helping a student at Hamari Kaksha, Chandigarh (Credit: Poorvi Agarwal)

According to the Unified District Information System for Education statistics, over 260 million children have enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in 2015-16 and 51.26 percent of the children enrolled from primary to the secondary schools. But none mentioned the percentage of dropouts or regular students. Absenteeism in the primary classes disturbs their base which makes it difficult for them during the secondary classes. The quality of teacher and school also adds onto this factor. Untrained and ill-equipped teachers at both primary and secondary level affect their education big time, especially in the rural schools. There is no massive gap in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of boys and girls in class 11 and 12 as it is 55.95% and 56.41% respectively.

When it comes to flagship programs, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), and other schemes have been majorly for the welfare of primary education. The umbrella scheme for Secondary education, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) aims to provide services like toilets, drinking water, computer facility, laboratory, along with vocational and classrooms knowledge. Modi government’s budget for 2017-18 allocated Rs 23,500 crore against SSA and Rs 3,830 crore for RMSA, an increase of 4.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. Arun Jaitley pledged to create an “innovation fund” to encourage local innovation and ensure universal access, gender parity and quality improvement of secondary education. According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India spends the least percent of its GDP on education amongst the BRICS members. In 2015-16, India spent 3% whereas Russia spent 3.8%, China – 4.2%, Brazil – 5.2% and South Africa – 6.9%.

The every family comparison with Sharma Ji ka beta peer pressurised the students who went under depression or attempted suicides. To tackle the situation, the system of examination and mark sheet was removed from CBSE till class 10 bringing in the CGPA grading system. Major changes in the syllabus and books are seen as Modi government came to power. Recently, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar made NCERT books mandatory for CBSE from the session 2017-2018 to standardise the curriculum across the country. The Rajasthan Board of secondary education will teach demonitisation to 12th from the next session.

ICSE is in a worse state as lacks specified publication or book by the council for the syllabus. When it comes to subjects like biology, the chapter ‘reproduction’ isn’t taught properly as the teachers skip many parts. This highlights the way sex education can never be a part of classrooms and blackboards. But MODIfication was seen in ICSE too. The 7th standard ICSE History book carried 8 out of 10 images of PM Modi in a single chapter. Many controversial changes came after Narendra Modi was elected as Prime Minister of India. A notification was issued in 2016 by the MP government to make lessons of the Gita compulsory in schools but due to strong protests, this decision was withdrawn. Also, former HRD Minister Smriti Irani replaced German with Sanskrit till class 8th in all Kendriya Vidyalaya, but this has been changed and third language is now made compulsory till class 10 in all schools.

The government policies seem to focus either on elementary education or higher education. Neglect of secondary education can have a devastating impact on the growth. To fix this broken ladder of education, serious thought should be given to secondary education and it should be made mandatory. Funds should be better allocated to revive secondary education. After the first year of Modi governance, a 9% drop in funds was seen in secondary education although it increased this year. Also, focus should be made on implementation and measuring of the schemes. Many positive changes have been witnessed under Modi governance, but if they focus more on improvising the education instead of saffronising, drastic growth can be seen in all levels of education.

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