Primary Education in India: Quality and Coverage Issues

Nirupam Bajpai, Sangeeta Goyal
An attempt is made in this paper to analyze the state of primary education in India. Using various data-sources and secondary research, we provide a description of the salient features of the public education system in India for primary schools (grades one through five) as well as educational outcomes, both in terms of quantity and quality. Literacy rates, especially in the younger age groups, for both boys and girls are on an upward trend. This is an extremely positive outcome as historically
more » ... ndia has suffered from endemic illiteracy. However, rising literacy rates have been accompanied by unevenness of achievements: across Indian states and across various socioeconomic groups. States in the Western and Southern zones of India outperform those in the East and Center. Moreover, the densely populated states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan continue to lag behind the rest of India. Literacy rates for girls, rural residents, and especially members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes also lag behind those for boys, urban residents and the upper castes. In terms of physical access to schools, more than ninety percent of the Indian population now has a primary school located within one kilometer of their place of residence. However, many schools have only one or two classrooms and most lack running water and toilets. These features are not conducive to a learning environment. The really critical aspect of the Indian public education system is its low quality. Even in educationally advanced states, an unacceptably low proportion of children who complete all grades of primary school have functional literacy. There is a lot of 'waste' in the school system as evidenced by the large percentage of children who drop-out before completing primary schooling. Such inefficiency is compounded by teacher apathy, teacher absenteeism, very high pupil-teacher ratios and inadequate teacher training. Public expenditure on education in India has been rising over time. After the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) which [...]
doi:10.7916/d8g1604s fatcat:rn4vimmxfvbybkswog5r5uksme