Anil Sai Bodepudi
Vamsi Krishna Sunkara
Stepping Stones: Enhancing the quality of primary
Why This topic?
The principle institutional mechanism for developing human skills and knowledge is the formal educational system. Most developing
nations have been led to believe or have wanted to believe that it is rapid quantitative expansion of educational opportunities which
holds the basic key to national development. The higher the education, higher is the anticipated development of any nation . Education
is one of the most important services provided by the governments in almost every country. As Bertrand Russel said, “..the educational
system we must aim at producing in the future is one which gives to every boy and girl an opportunity for the best that exists. “ This is
something which is very agreeable to most of us, yet such a scenario seldom meets our eye when it comes to state of education in
India. The Indian constitution enshrines in the directive principle of state policy compulsory primary education to all the citizens .
However inadequate attention is paid to the delivery mechanism of the primary education. This remains a basic Achilles' heel in the
development process in India. In fact this inadequacy has added to injustice and inequality while stunning the prospect of development.
Primary education is the root of all the other accomplishments of any country. It forms the back bone which imbibes sense and security
in people. Any social evil prevalent in this nation can be traced back to illiteracy. So being literate is not just for getting educated with
knowledge, but to know ourselves better, know the society we live in a better way and to know how to respond to situations in a better
way. Combined effort to abolish illiteracy will lead to a sustained development of the national economy , infrastructure and policy.
The number of illiterates in India is estimated to be over 400 million of which 75% live in rural areas. Of the literate population, a
significant proportion lack basic vocational skills. So it is the need of the hour to innovate methods to aim at attaining literacy
throughout the country.
Abolishing illiteracy is not a one step process, while it requires a systematic approach aiming at political, social , economical touch ups
leading to a beautiful state of life in this sub-continent .
As for like any other problem in our country ,
Illiteracy is indexed to the inefficiency of the
politicians straight away. Well , true to an extent
though. Indian government has neglected the
urgency to increase literacy right from the time of
independence. The concerns of economic
development preceded the priority of increasing
literacy in the country.
Since any reform has to start from the place where
it emerges, reform in the political power is
How intelligent is it to hand over the educational
power to a politician randomly selected from the
mob of politicians? How judicial is that rule? How
could a politician with minimal knowledge about
educational system and its actual working be
entrusted in paving a way to the educational
• Educational ministry should only be entrusted to people
with intellectual capability and qualification. It should be
mandatory prerequisite that a minister should poses to
take over that position.
• Instead of publicizing the activities of the ruling party
before screening a movie, it would be a lot helpful if the
effort is used to educate people about the dire necessity
to educate their kids .
• Kids are devoid of voting ability, that does not mean the
interests of the kids are not to be taken care of. Every
political party has to pass its bills taking in consideration
the interests of kids too, for they represent the
constituency representing the voice of kids as well the
• A government body has to be appointed , which checks
the working and functioning of schools both private and
The value and role of ”knowledge” is different in every culture but good
basic education is essential in every culture and at all levels. A carpenter
needs to know what an angle of 90 degrees is. When a mother does
not want her child to get diarrhea, she needs to know the basics of
Basic knowledge and access to information enables people to choose
good governments (or to oust bad ones). The effectiveness of
investments in health and sanitation depends on good basic knowledge
among villagers. The effectiveness of extension services for poor farmers
depends on their capacity to understand what is being explained to
A recent OECD study states that those few countries in Africa that years
ago significantly invested in (primary) education, now derive economic
growth from this investment. Going back in history, it is generally
acknowledged that the introduction of compulsory primary education in
Western Europe in the 19th century has been a crucial factor for
economic and social development.
Giving priority to primary education does not compete with other
sectors, it supports their development. A well educated population is
also crucial for countries wanting to take advantage of market
opportunities, wanting to export or to attract foreign investment. Free
market access is important but what do you do with it if your country
has no competitive enterprises because its population cannot read or
calculate or is not innovative.
Not every child who goes to school aspires to become a
software engineer or a doctor. Parents especially from the
rural areas are more concerned about handing over their
family occupation , and feel that their lives are meant to do
them. It is very important to make them understand that
primary education, would make them a better one in what
ever they aspire to do.
Government has to realise that farmers and carpenters are
as important to the society as much engineers and doctors
Schools in villages has to offer vocational courses on better
farming methods, carpentry , embroidery , stitching which
not only would provide them with creative insights to life
but also would form an aid for their occupation.
It is the responsibility of the schools to educate the parents
of their respective locality about the importance of
education and inspire them to give their kids the greatest
gift that ever can be.
“ Education is not just for better occupation but for better
There exists a lot of hindrances which binds parents from sending
their children to schools.
Regional feuds between the people of different sects in the village,
Insecurity about sending a girl child to school etc. are few among
• There is an utmost necessity for the teachers and the
administering staff of the schools to be unbiased and impartial to
all the students.
• All the festivals and religions should be mandatorily well
organised in the schools in order to elevate the qualities of unity
in diversity among the students.
• Teachers are to be well trained to act unbiased without any
reservations to any particular sect of students in the class.
• This would bring about a healthy relationship between students
• It is important not just to teach them bookish
knowledge, but also invoke aspects of ethics, morals,
respect on the cultural heritage of our country are
Reform in the primary educational system is the only way in which one can bring about a change that is truly required. This is the only
possible way to bring about a change in the phase of the mind-sets of public. Education has been the very jingle of human existence,
ever since we were evolved. Education is the art of learning to live, one might learn it from school or experience or from elders. This is
what, the essence of having an education is. The present day notion of ‘mugging up’ education is totally faulty, and is of no means
imbibing ethics and morals in the hearts of people, which is the need of the hour. Rather than mugging up pages, the present day
educational system has to be improvised to something that would teach the fresh twigs the art of living a life of morals and ethics. Man,
is a constant learner, so if he is not taught good things at proper time, he’ll end up learning bad things destroying the harmony of his life.
Curriculum of the educational system should be designed such that, people should be able to learn to live, learn to respect, learn to
behave, learn to help and learn to love. Only this education will be helpful. Unlike the present day, it won’t teach a child how to fake a
good character; whereas it nurtures the true character producing a first class intellectual to lead the society. All the schools and colleges
have a very important role to play in this effort to bring about a healthy intellectual change.. For, our country at present needs
intellectuals more than engineers and officials to lead it forward with the strength of the morals and values that they have nurtured with
the reformed educational system. Curriculum should focus on teaching the children the subtle aspects of life, like respecting and loving
their family, especially their mother and sisters. If this was achieved, there would be neither child abuse and molestation nor cheap
language usage. If the curriculum is successful in teaching a child on how to respect the country and its traditions, there would be
neither brain drain nor disrespect to the laws or responsibilities towards the nation. If the curriculum is successful in teaching how to
respect the Mother Nature, there would be a statistical dip in the wrath of the evils like pollution, global warming and misuse of
resources. If the curriculum is successful in teaching the art of living a value centred life, there would be neither frustrations nor anxiety
paving way to less chance of suicides and murders. So the whole change in the system starts with a change in our self through a change
in the educational system
A Diverse Set of Problems:
India's education system has not achieved strong learning outcomes for reasons that are as diverse and nuanced as the country
itself. Key among these reasons is poor teaching quality, which results from a multitude of factors.
1. Inadequate Teacher Qualification and Support: Teachers working in primary schools across rural India have a difficult job
Teachers have to teach multiple grades, textbooks are pitched far above the comprehension level of students, and each
classroom has children with different levels of learning achievements. The average school teacher in India does not get
adequate pre-service or in-service education, nor does she get the support to overcome these problems. Compounding this
is the relatively low educational qualifications of many teachers themselves. In 2008-2009, on average, 45% of these teachers
had not studied beyond the 12th grade.
2. Low Teacher Motivation and High Absenteeism: A key factor affecting the quality of primary education appears to be low
levels of teacher motivation. In 2002-2003, 25% of primary-school teachers in rural India were absent on any given day. The
impact of absenteeism is exacerbated by the fact that the average primary school in India has a workforce of no more than
three teachers. At a school for girls in rural Rajasthan, we observed this problem first hand: Of the eight teachers assigned,
only five were present. The three who were actually teaching were juggling eight different grades.
3. The obvious reason -- remuneration -- does not appear to be a driver. In fact, both education experts and ordinary citizens
argue that government-employed school teachers are paid relatively well. UNESCO surveys from as early as 2004 indicated that
the annual statutory salary of primary school teachers in India with 15 years' experience was more than $14,000, adjusted for
purchasing power. This was significantly higher than the then-statutory salaries of $3,000 in China and Indonesia, and the Indian
GDP per capita in 2004, which was $3,100.
• Indian primary-school teachers may not be underpaid, but some argue that they may be overworked. primary school
teachers employed by the government, particularly in rural India, are required to perform a wide range of duties
completely unrelated to imparting education. These duties -- including administering government programs such as
immunization clinics, assisting with data-collection for the national census, and staffing polling stations during elections --
in addition to their teaching responsibilities, place significant demands on teachers' time.
• Another disheartening factor has been a highly bureaucratic administrative system that discourages bold decision making
and makes implementation difficult.
• Flawed Teaching Methodology: In India, rote learning has been institutionalized as a teaching methodology. Primary
school teachers in rural India often try to educate students by making them repeat sections of text over and over again,.
Often they do not explain the meaning of the text, which results in stunted reading comprehension skills over the course
of the children's education. For example, many students in grades two and three in one particular school struggle to read
individual words, but can neatly copy entire paragraphs from their textbooks into their notebooks as though they were
• Linguistic Diversity: Finally, India's linguistic diversity creates unique challenges for the nation's education system. The
country's 22 official languages and hundreds of spoken dialects often differ considerably from the official language of the
state or region. the teacher not only has to account for varying learning abilities within the classroom, but also dialectic
nuances which affect students' comprehension of the subject matter.
• Government-school-educated children from rural India struggle to speak even basic sentences in English. Students with
rural primary schooling are at a significant disadvantage as they transition to higher education, because India's best
universities teach exclusively in English. Part of the problem is that there is no one to teach them.
Partnering with the Government
• Over the past few decades, many organizations have begun working with government schools and teachers to improve
• Pratham, a joint venture between UNICEF and the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai, runs multiple programs to
supplement school education, such as learning support classes, libraries and additional learning resources. A hallmark of
these initiatives is that Pratham engages volunteers from local communities and trains them to run these programs.
Another important initiative that has resulted from Pratham is the annual ASER, an assessment that measures reading and
arithmetic abilities by surveying more than 600,000 children across 16,000 villages in India. This remarkable exercise in
data-gathering constitutes the foundation for informed decision-making and benchmarking.
• Other initiatives address teaching quality by placing specially trained teachers in government schools. Teach for India,
modelled after the Teach for America program, was introduced in 2006. Young, motivated Indian college graduates and
professionals apply for two-year fellowships to teach at government-run and low-income private schools that lack
sufficient resources. An important distinction of Teach for India is that instruction is, by design, always in English. As Mohit
Arora, fellowship recruitment manager for Teach for India, noted, the organization's philosophy on this point is that
"learning English is essential to future success, as English in today's world is more than just a language. It is a skill set."
Students who do not speak English may have some difficulty initially, but the organization has made learning at these
schools experiential and therefore engaging. The dynamics of one particular grade 3 Teach for India classroom were in
stark contrast to other classrooms at the same school -- students were listening intently, contributing in class, answering
questions beyond the textbook and demonstrating a strong command over English. The challenge is scaling this model to
• Expansion in the number of teachers has been
abysmally slow compared to the number of children
enrolling for 222 India Infrastructure Report 2012
education. Researchers have observed that teacher
recruit- ment in most states remained frozen for
many years, lead- ing to sub-optimal solutions such
as hiring para-teachers to override fi scal constraints
• Recruitment and career policy for faculty at DIETs
and State Councils of Educational Reseacrh and
Training (SCERTs) is yet another challenge. This often
implies a shortage of staff in these institutions.
• Equipping teachers with the proper skill sets is a very
important challenge that has to be faced.
The reasons that could explain why India’s national
system of education has not measured up to the
expectations of the common person.
there has been a paucity of resources allocated for
school education, even though every political party
promises to remedy the situation in its election
manifesto. This has changed since India’s economic
growth remained stable despite the recent
limited attention has hitherto been given towards
building institutions and institutional capacity to
educate teachers, provide academic leadership and
support school reform.