K-12 (K To Twelve) is a term used to sum up the combination of primary and secondary education. According to a report released by Ernst & Young, ‘The Indian K-12 system is the largest in the world with 253 million students enrolled in 1.4 million schools.’ This makes it a huge deal, as after all, school education is truly the foundation for a brighter future – of each child and of the country as a whole.
(Source: E&Y Report on K-12)
Classification Of The K-12 Education System In India
The K-12 system in India can be classified based on:
Ownership: Government / Local or municipal / Private aided / Private unaided
Level of Education: Primary / Upper Primary / Jr. Secondary / Sr. Secondary
Board of Affiliation: CBSE / ICSE / International Boards / State Boards / Others
Challenges Faced By The K-12 Education System In India
We have tried to enumerate various challenges that the K-12 system in India faces. Most of these challenges are faced at a higher magnitude at the semi-urban and rural areas.
Lack Of Access
One of the biggest challenges faced by the K-12 education in India is the lack of access to schools for a large number of children. There are many reasons for this. Poor infrastructure in semi-urban and rural areas with lack of even basic facilities like sanitation and proper classrooms are a major deterrent. Parents of the girl-child are wary about their safety if they have no other means but to walk to school. Usually, schools in villages are situated quite a walk away and if the children have to cross a stream or highway to get access, parents prefer not to send them.
Another issue plaguing the primary and secondary school education canvas in India is poor attendance. A student may get admission into a school but will not attend. This is due to the fact that a child may need to help earn money to feed the family; teachers in lower rung schools often lack the drive and motivation to push students to attend. Also, seeing teachers so disinterested, the child is not craving to learn.
Lack Of Value-Add
Most public schools in India are functioning with the mentality of teaching by rote and not encouraging thought and curiosity. Thus, children studying in such schools are bereft from attaining skills that will help them become worldly wise and be able to cascade to a high growth career. Overall poor quality of facilities and teaching aids etc. has led to a system that has been ineffective.
Pyramid Structure Of Institutes
In India, a pyramid-like structure exists in education. This is explained with the help of the illustration provided below:
As is quite evident, the number of institutes keeps diminishing as we keep going higher in the level. This creates several dropouts at each level, rendering a huge part of the student population only minimally educated. According to the World Bank, 95% of Indian children attend primary school but only 40% go to secondary school.
How Can These Issues Be Fixed?
Unique Skills To Be Developed
Rather than just focusing on textual learning by rote, conceptual understanding and everyday skills like Math and English need to be taught to children from a very young age. The teaching system needs to be student-centric and not teacher centric.
Higher Teacher Benchmarks To Be Set
Do most of the teachers teaching at the primary and secondary levels pass the muster in terms of global standards? They do not in a majority of the cases. The eligibility criteria needs to be looked into and held as a serious filter before teachers are allowed to teach.
Longer Teacher Training Programs
Surveys and research has proven that teachers do not receive sufficient training or preparation before they start teaching. To be able to teach students effectively, a lot of skill, the right attitude and aptitude needs to be developed. Often, just simply doing a Diploma course or B.Ed. program is insufficient for this.
Funds Utilized In The Right Manner
With the Right to Education and a myriad of Government schemes to fund the infrastructure and provision of quality education to the K-12 sector, something seems amiss. Had the funds been utilized for their intended purpose from the very start, the K-12 scenario in India would be far rosier.
Make The Career Prospect Exciting For Teachers
Teachers if motivated can play a huge role in improving the face of primary and secondary education in India. It is therefore essential to make this career choice exciting for them to reduce absenteeism and migration from rural schools to cities.
We at Schoolkart are committed to give back to the society and help the underprivileged in our own way. Through ‘Schoolkart Cares’, we pass on donations in kind (old school uniforms, shoes and other useful knick-knacks) to some of the best NGO’s in the country like Goonj, Maitri and Ehsaas Welfare Foundation.
Whilst there has been mass improvement over the last couple of decades in terms of trying to universalize primary education by making it more accessible, a lot needs to be done where it’s quality is concerned. For another giant leap to improve the scenario drastically, innovators, the private sector and the Government will have to work in tandem.
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