India is a country with more than one billion people, and just one-third of them can read. Rapidly growing size of population, shortages of teachers, books, and basic facilities, and insufficient public funds to cover education costs are some of the nation’s toughest challenges. This is where Children in India are facing the basic challenges. According to a study, more than 30% of educational funds are allocated towards higher education, leaving the primary education in India in sway.
India is fourth among the top 10 nations with the highest numbers of out-of children in primary level. Furthermore, the rate of school drop-outs amongst students is very high. One of the main reasons behind this is poverty. When earning a livelihood and taking care of the members of the family becomes a primary matter of concern in one’s life, education stands a little or, very often, no chance of pursuance. For the underprivileged people in India, education is perceived as a high-priced luxury, and this negative outlook continues on with every new generation.
A disproportionate number of total out-of-school children in India are girls. What denies equal opportunities of children are serious social issues that have arose out of caste, class and gender differences. The practice of child labour in India and resistance to sending girls to school in several parts of the country remain as genuine concerns. If the current trend continues, millions of underprivileged children will probably never set foot in a classroom.
India’s growth relies on a well-educated and skilled workforce. Improving education is a critical area of investment. A shabby foundation in primary education can overturn the lives, careers and productivity of millions of its citizens. Already, a considerable proportion of the adult workforce in India is acutely under-equipped to be eligible for skilled and semi-skilled jobs. In order to build India as a consumer market of global standards, it is very important that every child reaps the benefits of quality education.
As much as 500 million of India’s total population live below the poverty level. These families live in living standards that are among the poorest in the world. Thousands of mothers, newborn babies and children in India die every year from preventable diseases. 27% of deaths of children below age 5 are because of prematurity, 14% due to respiratory infections and 11% due to diarrhoea. 66% of the rural population in India lacks access to preventive medicines.
Healthcare is, by far, out of a poor man’s reach. About 75% of healthcare resources are concentrated in urban areas, where only 27% of the total population resides. 31% of the rural population in India has to travel over 30 km to get even the most urgent medical treatment. About 40% of the population in the metropolitan and large cities live in urban slums, where primary healthcare is provided by health posts. Most of the health posts are located outside the slum areas, making accessibility difficult.
Healthcare is every child’s right but problems like lack of quality infrastructure, shortage of experienced medical functionaries and non-access to basic medicines and medical facilities avert its reach to over 60% of the child population in India. The need of the hour is to work collectively towards promoting health in areas, where the poor children manage to survive.
As per studies, one in three of the world’s malnourished children lives in India. In India, each year, an estimated 27 million children are born—nearly 2 million of which do not survive the fifth birthday. A major cause of this is malnourishment. Over 200 million people in India do not have access to good food, and more than 40% of the children who manage to survive beyond the age five are malnourished. In India, 46% of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47% are underweight and at least 16% are wasted. Millions of poor children in India do not receive immunization. 79% of children under age 3 suffer from anaemia. More than 50% of children have poor learning capacity because of iodine deficiency.
Due to inadequate intake of essential nutrients, malnourished children experience several problems, including delays in development, weight-loss and other illnesses. In young children, undernourishment can greatly compromise the immune system, making them highly susceptible to infectious diseases. Besides this, it causes severe growth implications and cognitive implications like memory deficiency, low IQ scores, impaired school performance, and learning disabilities.
Underprivileged children are at a higher risk for various short-term and long-term complications as they experience several macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies since the time of birth. In fact, it is before birth that many children and their mothers face complications, due to undernourishment. Girls are more at risk of undernourishment than boys because of their inferior social status. Every year, thousands of women die due to negligible intake of essential nutrients during pregnancy. The child and maternal mortality rates for India are amongst the highest in the world. It is believed that malnutrition alone causes 50% of infant and maternal deaths.
Of the 193 million Children in the age group 6 to 14 years, 8.1 million children are out of school as of Sept 2004 as per Government statistics.
Net primary enrolment ratio in 2001/02 : 83 7%
Children reaching grade 5 in 2000/01 : 59 8 %
Number of Primary Schools in India : 0.664 million (2001-02)
Number Upper Primary Schools in India : 0.219 million
Population in the age group of 6-14 years : 193 Million
Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools : 0.133 million; Enrollment : 30.5 million
Findings from the Survey – ‘Social infrastructure like education is as important as physical infrastructure, not only for sustaining high growth but also for enhancing welfare. The root of poverty often lies in illiteracy.’
State with highest literacy rate : Kerala (89.8)
State with lowest literacy rate : Bihar (38.5)
District with highest literacy rate : Kottayam, Kerala (95.7)
District with lowest literacy rate : Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh (19.0)
Facts on Education
Less than half of India's children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.
At least 35 million children aged 6 - 14 years do not attend school.
53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.
In India, only 53% of habitation has a primary school.
In India, only 20% of habitation has a secondary school.
On an average an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22% of areas under habitations.
In nearly 60% of schools, there are less than two teachers to teach Classes I to V.
On an average, there are less than three teachers per primary school. They have to manage classes from I to V every day.
High cost of private education and need to work to support their families and little interest in studies are the reasons given by 3 in every four drop-outs as the reason they leave.
Dropout rates increase alarmingly in class III to V, its 50% for boys, 58% for girls.
1 in 40, primary school in India is conducted in open spaces or tents.
In Andhra Pradesh (South India), 52 upper primary schools were operating without a building in 2002, while in 1993, there were none.
In Maharashtra (West India), there were 10 schools operating without a building in 1993, this has climbed to 33 in 2002.
More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to school