Hamid Ansari stresses on quality education

November 11th, 2010 - 5:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) Even as the government prepares for the implementation of the Right to Education Act, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari Thursday said the quality of education still remains a major concern.

Addressing a function to mark the National Education Day here, Ansari said issues like teacher absenteeism, single teacher schools and multi-grade teaching need to be resolved.

“This dismal picture of elementary education’s quality and outcomes contrasts sharply with the achievement of near universal access, and the landmark legislation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009,” Ansari said.

Quoting from the Annual Status of Education Report 2009, he said that while 96 percent of children in the 6-14 age group in rural India are enrolled in schools, average absenteeism is around 25 percent.

“We need to address equity concerns of the disadvantaged, vulnerable social groups and urban-deprived groups with regard to access and retention. All quality issues impacting on the learning outcomes of children must be addressed as a priority,” he said, adding that the key Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has had limited impact on a majority of marginalised sections.

“The impact of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in areas listed in Schedule V and VI of the constitution, among SCs (Schedule Castes) and STs (Schedule Tribes), Muslim concentration areas and slums has not been very significant,” Ansari said.

Launched in 2001-02, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been the main vehicle for providing elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age group. The vice president highlighted that while it addresses the educational needs of over 19 crore children, problems remain.

“While the issue of access has been largely addressed, the huge dropout rate at the elementary level of over 43 percent is a cause of concern. It is more disconcerting that there are huge social gaps in dropout rates.

“The dropout rate at elementary level for SCs is over 52 percent and that for STs is over 63 percent. In large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, over 50 percent of SC children do not even go beyond the primary level of education,” he said.

“We must remember that ensuring access to education without a commensurate focus on quality and outcomes will result in the ‘right to education’ remaining merely a ‘right to schooling’,” he added.

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