Dr. M. C. Jain
M.A. Ph.D. (Psychology)
Ex-Associate Professor, NCERT
All the developing countries are facing crises in their educational system with problem of school dropouts at the school level in general and primary level in particular. To combat this problem which is common in almost all such countries steps have been initiated by these countries with varying degrees of success.
The principle that liberal education is the right of every individual is comparatively of recent origin. Even elementary liberal education was confined to a small class of upper social strata (about 1 to 5% of the children in the age group 5-15), mostly boys. For the remaining children, vocational education learnt in a non-formal manner through apprenticeship or active participation was considered adequate. At the beginning of the 20th Century therefore, there were innumerable small elementary schools in almost all towns and villages, but they enrolled only between 1 to 5% of the children of school going and the percentage of literacy among the adults was only about 3% and that too confined to men alone. The enlightened educated Indians like Dada Bhai Nauroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale saw the provision of universal liberal education in the advanced countries of the West and demanded compulsory education of four years for all children. The compulsory education act was passed providing 4 to 5 years of liberal education to all children in different states during 1918-1931.
When the country became free , the framers of our Constitution knew that society based on freedom, equality , justice and dignity of the individual cannot be created without literate and educated citizens. Accordingly in Article 45 they directed that the state should strive to provide free and compulsory education to all children till they attain the age of 14 years. Since independence, there has been an impressive expansion of education at Primary, Secondary and Higher levels in India. This stands in sharp contrast to the chronic problems of (a) quality and equality of opportunity both at school and college levels (b) wastage and stagnation at all levels, particularly at the primary level and (c) unemployment of the educated.
In fact, the problem of school dropouts in our educational system has received much attention during the last forty years. It has been discussed thoroughly at national level and yet there have not been any action programme for the reduction of this evil. This problem has three aspects-
1. The first is that school dropout is the result of weak and defective educational system.
2. The second aspect is to bring about changes in the educational system to suit the life and needs of pupil who are entering the school for the first time.
3. The third is that in every given situation in an educational institution and even at the existing level of facilities.
There are four essential requirement of every child i.e. food, shelter, clothing and education. The Indian Constitution provides for free, compulsory and universal primary education for every child till the age of 14 years. Since India became independent, great efforts have been made in this direction. However, due to the magnitude of the work and great resources involved the constitutional obligation has not been fulfilled so far. There may be a large number of reasons for our failures. Some of the well known and commonly talked about are sudden and large increase in population , lack of resources, our single point of entry in elementary education , non-involvement of the pupil, slackening of efforts on the part of the Government and giving low priority to education in their plans. Some of the basic reasons which are directly connected and responsible for these burning problems are poverty, taking up odd jobs to supplement income, involvement of children in domestic work, educational background, caste, occupation , indifference of parents, continued presence in one class for more than one year, poor quality of teaching, lack of proper environment at home, education system not according to the needs of society, faulty admission policy, proper school environment, death of parents, irregular attendance, undernourishment of the pupils, heterogeneity in age in the composition students in a classroom situation, emotional problems of the pupils, social maladjustment of pupils, mental retardation and so on. Apart from this some other causes like physical defects, parent’s attitude towards school, teacher’s education, family atmosphere, institutional factors like heavy syllabus, lack of co-curricular activities etc. are directly responsible for this burning problem.
In short, the element of compulsory and free education cannot be a source of satisfaction unless the compulsory system leads to a higher percentage of enrolment and attendance and better flow of promotion from class to class so that literary is reached by much larger number of scholars.