The quality of education provided to children in India is on a downward spiral, according to the Annual Status of Education Report 2016 (ASER). This survey is a household-based survey being conducted since 2005, and it was carried out in 589 rural districts in 2016. According to the report, 47.8% students of class V can read class II level text. This has declined from last year’s performance of 48.1%. The students also fared badly in arithmetic and English comprehension. The proportion of all Class VIII students in rural India who can divide a three-digit number by a single-digit one has dipped to 43.2% in 2016 from 44.2% in 2014. And while 32% of children in Class III could read simple English words, in Class V, only one out of every four students could read an English sentence.
India aims to make the most skilled workforce in the world and therefore, governments have sworn to make education accessible to all. The enrollment of children in schools in the country is as high as 97%, but the quality of education being provided in these schools are way below average. In 2014-15, Rs. 321820.20 crores were allocated to education. The budget for 2016-17 allotted for education spending was 10% higher than previous years. All of the government’s schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, Mahila Samakhya, Schemes for infrastructure development, to name a few, have only worked so far as to enroll children into schools. Strengthening of Teachers Training Institute and Strengthening for providing quality Education in Madrassas (SPQEM) are meant to help the teachers and schools. The ASER report, however, shows that this is where the major problem lies.
In an attempt to weed out ghost teachers in state-run schools, the government also insisted on teachers linking their Aadhar card with the school databases. Ghost teachers are those who don’t show up for work or have moved away but still get paid by the government.
According to the India CSR Outlook Report 2016-17, the most number of projects done by corporate houses are in the education sector. 32% of the CSR funds were directed to the education sector. Giants like Reliance Industries, Wirpo Ltd, Samsung and Infosys are some of the many who spend for this cause. CSR projects mainly focus on skill development and promotion of education. Many of them support public and private schools, offer scholarships and work with NGOs to reach remote areas of the country.
The sector which is receiving over 4% of the country’s GDP and most number of CSR projects, is the one which is faring the worst among others. Education provision and developing skills in children, both have gotten worse over the past five years. Where are the funds for infrastructure and teachers institutes going? This report is an eye-opener for centre and state governments because all of their education schemes are producing no results. If India aims to make a skilled workforce, it needs to start at the bottom.
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The CSR Journal Team