Elementary Education in India : Progress towards UEE

Prabhat Kishore
Contd from previous issue
Providing nutritious food to all children under the mid day meal schemes is one of the ambitious programme of the Government. For this purpose, kitchen shed have been constructed in nearly 80.02 percent schools.
The percentage of primary schools having attached pre-primary section is only 10.72%. But most of such schools are in urban areas. Nearly 61.67 percent of the schools have been electrified, but Bihar have alarming situation in this sector where just 36.74 percent have electric facility.
The commencement of various educational schemes by central as well as state governments has improved the scenario to a great extent. The enrolment in primary schools increased from 101.16 million in 2002-03 to 129.122784 million in 2015-16, whereas in upper primary school, the enrolment increased upto 67.593727 million. There has been consistent improvement both in Gender Parity Index (Percentage of enrolled girls compared to enrolled boys) and girls’ enrolment. The average of 680 districts indicates a GPI of 0.93 in primary classes and 0.95 in upper primary classes. In year 2015-16, the shares of girls’ enrolment in primary and upper primary classes were 48.21% & 48.63% respectively.
The percentage of girls’ enrolment in government managed schools was found to be higher than in private managed schools.
The share of SC & ST enrolment with respect to total enrolment works out to be 19.94 & 10.64 percent at primary level and 19.49 & 9.81 % at upper primary level. At all levels, Government schools are the main providers of educational needs of both SC & ST children.
The share of OBC enrolment in the primary and upper primary classes was 45.05 and 45.15 percent respectively. The percentage of Muslim enrolment at primary & upper primary level is reported to be 14.43 and 12.60 percent in which girls share is 49.05 and 51.35 percent respectively. The enrolment of Muslim children (13.80 percent) is satisfactory in respect of their population (14.20 percent).
A lot of emphasis is given to include and integrate children with special needs (CWSN) into the education system. The percentage enrolment of such children is 1.18 and 1.13 percent at primary and upper primary level. One of the essential requirements to achieve UEE is to retain students in the education system. This is also reflected in the retention rate at primary level which estimated to be 84.21 percent and drop-out rate has come to just 4.13 percent.
The transition from primary to upper primary level has improved significantly to 90.14 percent.
Availability of teachers in schools is an important variable for quality education. In the country, 8076756 teachers are engaged in schools imparting elementary education, out of which 4674275 are posted in government schools. 8.48 percent teachers are engaged in aided schools whereas 30.79 percent are in unaided schools. The all India average reveals that on an average there are 5.6 teachers in a school that imparts elementary education compared to an average of 3.1 teachers per primary school.
About 47.99 percent of the total teachers are female, which shows somewhat satisfactory gender share. Urban areas have higher percentage of female teachers compared to rural areas. Still there are 9.67% single teacher schools in the country. There has been consistent improvement in pupil-teacher ratio (PTR).
The PTR is 23:1 and 17:1 at primary and upper primary level as against national norms of 30:1 and 35:1. In 137 districts of the country PTR is above 30. The concentration is mostly in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. In only 2 states namely Bihar (36) and Uttar Pradesh PTR at primary level is above 30. At primary level percentage of schools having PTR above is 25.93 , whereas at upper primary level percentage of schools having PTR above 35 is 13.46.
There is alarming situation in 4 states namely Bihar (65.92), Delhi (42.92), Jharkhand (41.23) and Uttar Pradesh (57.70), where percentage of schools having PTR is above 35. In Bihar not only is pupil-teacher ratio (36) high but also the student classroom ratio (51).
The number of teachers is better in private schools compared to government schools. Of the total teachers 13.18 percent are contractual teachers.
About 82.41% of the regular teachers are professionally trained, whereas only 67.02% of the contract teachers are professionally trained. The percentage of teacher aged above 55 years is just 6.16% in all types of schools.
Majority of the teachers of SC & ST community are in government schools. In elementary schools, there are 999335 teachers of SC community and 683268 teachers of ST community, which constitutes about 12.37% and 8.46% of the total working teachers. About 2875608 (35.60%) teachers are from OBC community.
After implementation of RTE, changes in various norms of SSA have been done. Emphasis on construction of school building and recruitment of qualified teachers has been given and more funds have been ensured for that. It is hoped that in coming years, significant improvement will be noticed in the field of elementary education in the country.

The writer is, Additional State Programme Officer,
Bihar Education Project Council
Patna – 800004 (Bihar)