Why has India found it so hard to educate all its citizens over the last 73 years since Independence?
According to the 2011 Census, India’s literacy rate stands at 74 percent, significantly below the global average of 86 percent. The overall school enrolment in the country has gone up to 97.2 percent, thanks to the Right to Education Act, 2009. But the quality of education remains low with just 51 percent of students being able to read a Grade II level text after five years of schooling.
There is no doubt that education is one of the key indicators of a developed nation and it is inextricably tied in with socio-economic progress. But the question is – is it only the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the nation hits its education objectives? Is there anything that we can do to address the challenge? I believe there is.
Paying it forward is just what the country needs to achieve 100 percent literacy and universal access to quality education that is the need of the hour.
But the question is – is it only the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the nation hits its education objectives?
Why has India found it so hard to educate all its citizens over the last 73 years since Independence? There are a number of factors to consider here. Even today there are remote parts of the country where it is difficult to set up a school or even find qualified teachers.
Add to it, complex social factors such as prejudice, societal norms and poverty and we have a situation where education is either not a priority or out of reach for a vast number of Indians. Over the last few years, we have seen a marked improvement in school enrolments, but the sad truth is that very often, lack of funds leads to families pulling their children out. And in such situations, the age-old approach of Each One Teach One can go a long way in helping ensure that the child’s education is not stopped forever.
We are living in an era of inequalities and lack of balance, where on one hand Indians are splurging on luxury items like never before and on the other children are dying of starvation.
What exactly is Each One Teach One and what does it involve? The phrase originated in the United States of America when slavery was prevalent, and enslaved persons were denied the right to a formal education. A lack of education implied no access to information and a state of ignorance about matters beyond their immediate environment which was tightly controlled by their owners.
When an enslaved person did educate themselves, it was considered their duty to educate another.  In India, the phrase was first used by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle and became a rallying cry for active individual participation in educating the masses to drive awareness of rights and socio-economic development.
Across the pages of history, education has been perceived as a significant factor behind social and individual progress and 21st century India is no exception to this rule. We are living in an era of inequalities and lack of balance, where on one hand Indians are splurging on luxury items like never before and on the other children are dying of starvation.
Even today, not every Indian has access to quality education, and this is a problem that can be easily solved by each one of us paying it forward with education.
Education has the undeniable power to transform lives. Not just the life of the individual but that of their family, their community, and the society they live in.
According to industry estimates, 82.4% students feel that the knowledge and skills they acquired during higher education generated ‘high’ or very high increase in their career potential while 87.2% of them felt that receiving the scholarship and higher education generated ‘high’ or ‘very high’ increase in respect for them from the family and the community.
If each one of these students were to take the responsibility of educating one more student like themselves, India would be on the fast track to development and socio-economic equity.
Education has the undeniable power to transform lives. Not just the life of the individual but that of their family, their community, and the society they live in
Unfortunately, many people think that taking on the responsibility of teaching others is a time consuming and expensive endeavor. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are individuals across India who are actively engaged in teaching underprivileged children. They do it before work, after work on the weekends as is convenient.
There is little need for a physical classroom – classes can be taken in any place where the children can sit safely and focus. And given the wide adoption of mobile phones and easy accessibility of mobile Internet, it is not far-fetched to say that classes can even be online.
For those who are not sure about spending time teaching, there is always the option of sponsoring the education of a deserving child. On an average it costs only few thousands to sponsor the education of one child for a year under the aegis of an education focused foundation. This modest sum of money can transform a child’s life and set them up for a successful future.
Access to quality education is one of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and a key factor for India to achieve its growth and development targets.
The good news is that today, increasing number of people are looking to contribute to society and paying it forward with education is a great way for them to make a difference It will not be long before child in India is educated and assured of a secure future. Only then can we call ourselves a developed nation and a superpower.