Priority to Primary Education

Dear Editor,
In the midst of global recession, India continues long-term growth for the last couple of years but the state of our education is a concern for us. Nation must build skilled workforce to improve their livelihoods. We have premier institute of higher learning and research including IITs, IIMs, IISc, AIIMS etc but the priority to primary education was never considered post independence era. Now India emphasized NPE for child-centric primary education focusing on universal access and enrollment. 86th amendment to the constitution advocates free and compulsory education to the children of 6-14 years age group, as a Fundamental Right through Sarva Shiksha Abhijaan. The initiative like the Midday Meal Scheme brings many more children into schools. But the question on whether the children are really learning, go unanswered.
Teaching has always been the last career option for India. The vernacular school carries old-age teaching and lacks competitive environment. According to ASER effort and DISE on elementary education, learning outcomes do not improve. On the other hand, private schools give children a quality education. The government now took action to revamp school under RTE Act 2009. Course curriculums have been re-designed for co-scholastic achievement concerning school and education. But poor students continue to struggle in higher classes owing to shaky training. Their education does not offer enough to get a white-collar profession. Finally they fall a prey to subsidised job like MNREGA or temporary hazardous occupation. They have been denied opportunities. Their skills, talents and intelligence go un-nurtured and ignored. Finally they experience an identity crisis. We cannot let down the hundred millions of students in our classrooms. All children, irrespective of birth or background must be given equal learning opportunities to hone themselves. We need to overcome structural barrier to poverty and ensure opportunity for them to realise their full potential.
Kamal Baruah