Gaps in Indian K 12 education and how to fill it

Over the past 75 years of India getting independence, the one aspect that has been seen the slowest growth is the Education sector. The fact that it has been in the State list for the longest time has also been a reason for it to be given importance as per the state governments’ manifestoes and agendas. Over the years that it was moved to the Concurrent list, the Indian Education saw some positive changes happening and the impact of these is becoming visible slowly and gradually. But there is a long way to go and many gaps need to be overcome before India can confidently talk about them.

With a history like India’s where the Gurukul system of education existed since early ages, the British rule established a formal education system. But that being more for their own convenience for administrative ease has continued to bind us into a system of text book based rote teaching and learning, which started producing employable youth and highly competitive adults. Today unfortunately, in the open liberalized urban economies, these pass outs are at times deemed unfit to face the real challenges of global competition and need to unlearn many things to be able to go out into the real world.

In the rural parts of the country, there are still challenges of infrastructure and technology. In the lockdown period during COVID years, a large percentage of rural students completely missed out on their academics due to non-availability of internet facility, no access to computers or smart phones for online classes and no infrastructure in place for digital classes to be arranged. This was a major setback for the country and it will take a long time for this gap to be overcome.

While stereotypes are being addressed and patriarchal mindsets are lessening to some extent through awareness drives, when it comes to making a choice between sending the son or daughter to school, the rural uneducated parent still chooses to send the son. This mindset increases the learning gaps in the society over generations as more percentage of girls are deprived of educational opportunities as compared to boys. Hence, economic factors have led to this widening gender related educational gap and this will still take a long time to bridge.

The NEP 2020 was announced for implementation across the nation. Though the NEP aspects have been in draft stage since many years but now the implementation stage has begun. This is a big and progressive step towards overcoming many gaps in our education system provided there are continuous training programmes conducted and monitored at each level to ensure that the objectives of NEP are being achieved. The Learning Outcomes for the students need to be evaluated constantly and teacher trainings need to be practically implemented in classroom through class and teacher observations for bridging programmes to be undertaken.

The mid-day meal plans have been successful in attracting students to schools for more reasons than just educational. The rural underprivileged sector parents who may not be able to afford to feed nutritious meals to their children send them to school for this purpose and in the process the children end up getting education.

The government must consider bringing education in the Center list and have common policies and plans for the entire country. Though budget allocations for educational needs for each state have seen a marked improvement but they have a long way to go. It is important for the education sector to be given as much important as the defense sector and gear up the country by empowering the future citizens by the power of literacy and knowledge. As the saying goes “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and so will be proved when all children of the country will proudly be enrolled in schools and enriched with learning and knowledge.


(The author is Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff, MD and CEO, Kalorex Group and the views expressed in this article are her own)

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