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Report No. 165

Present Scenario of Education as Source of Development

1.3. The observations of the World Bank point out the current position as regards primary education in the following words:-

"India's primary education glass is two-thirds full, one-third empty. Having steadily raised primary enrollment rates over the past four decades, India now has 67 million children ages 6-10 who are attending primary school, but 28 million to 32 million primary-school-age children who are note.1

At Independence in 1947, fewer than 15% of the adult population was literate. Literacy grew slowly over the next four decades and in 1991 the literacy rate for adults [persons overage 7 (sic 17)] was 52%, which is well below rates in East Asian Economies when they began accelerated integration with world market. For example, in 1961, the Republic, of Korea's literacy rate was 71% and Thailand's was 68%2."

1. Id., at p. 16.

2. World Bank Report on Primary Education in India, 1997, Chapter 1.

The World Bank Report points out1:

"that India's education system is the second largest in the world.

According to provisional statistics from the sixth All India Education Survey, 98 million children were enrolled in 575,000 lower primary schools in 1993, another 34 million in 161,000 upper primary schools, and 22 million in 90,000 secondary schools (NCERT 1995). Roughly 5 million students were enrolled in nearly 8,000 institutions at the tertiary level (India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 1994c). In all, 18 per cent. of India's population was enrolled in school, up from 7 per cent. in 1951."

1. Id., at p. 16.

1.3.1. It is revealed in the said report1 that enrollment has grown at all levels since the 1950s. Thus in 1950-51 students enrolled in grades 1-5 and grades 6-8 were 20 million and less than 5 million respectively and it has grown in 1990-91 to 100 million and little above 20 million in the said grades respectively (as per the graph shown in the World Bank Report under Chapter 1 thereof). The said report projects that nevertheless, at least 32 million poor rural primary-school-age children do not attend school even in States with high participation rates.

Official primary school dropout rates were 39% for girls and 35% for boys. The World Bank report observes that though India has made much progress towards universal primary education and could achieve nearly universal - 95% - primary net enrollment rates by 2005, it will be at least two decades later than in such countries as Indonesia and Malaysia and three decades later than in the Republic of Korea.

1. Ibid.

1.4. As per the National Human Rights Commission1, a gloomy picture of the state of health and education emerges which may best be expressed in the words of the Commission itself:-

"2.14. Based on data contain in 1991 Census Report, 328.9 million Indians were illiterate. Indeed, a report issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in January 1997 estimates that 63 million children in the age group or 6-14 years are at present not attending school. As for health, 135 million people had yet to gain access to primary health care, while 226 million were without safe drinking water and 640 million were without basic sanitation facilities; 88% of all pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 suffered from anaemia.

As regards food and nutrition, there were 62 million malnourished children under the age of 5 years. In respect of children, nearly one-third of those under the age of 16 were engaged in child labour-many in hazardous industries. In terms of poverty and income, nearly one-third of the world's poor live in India Increasingly it becomes evident that the way to improve the quality of life of people is to invest wisely and substantially in education and health. In India, such investment is $ 14 per person per annum; in the Republic of Korea it is $ 180...."

1. National Human Rights Commission, Annual Report, 1996-97, para. 2.14.

1.4.1. The National Human Rights Commission1 observes regarding child labour that the Central Government has taken up a major programme to end child labour in respect of a million children working in hazardous occupations by the year 2000, for which it is proposed to allocate some Rs. 850 crores by that year. Under paragraph 5.10, it posed the question as to how the country will be prepared to deal with the much vaster problem of child labour in other occupations as well the estimate of those so working varying from 50 million to a number much higher.

1. National Human Rights Commission, Annual Report, 1956-96, para. 5.9

Free and compulsory Education for Children Back

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