India is a country with a 138 crore (1.38 billion) population which is further divided into two sections: urban and rural. The rural population of India represents 65% of the total population, around 88 crore (880 million). As of 2021, the literacy rate in rural India was around 73.5%. This includes 81% male and 65% female literacy in rural section of India. As the rural economy currently contributes to 25-30% of the country’s GDP, literacy in these parts is important for the Indian economy.
Between years 2003 to 2014, the rural literacy grew at a CAGR of approximately 3.42%. And to further increase the literacy and growth rate, the government of India has launched many initiatives such as Samagra Shiksha, Jahawar Navodaya Vidyalaya, mid-day meal schemes, digital initiatives etc. The goal of these initiatives is to increase the enrolment rate and also to encourage the already enrolled students to attend regularly.
Rural Literacy (as a % of total rural population)
Agriculture sector is the driving force of India. A large number of the Indian population is involved in the agriculture and allied industries’ business. Similarly, there are many sectors originating out of the rural society driving the economy. With education, the rural population can apply new knowledge and implement better technology and practices into their businesses. This will even help in bringing the per capita income of the country up and reducing poverty.
Schools and Colleges in rural India
India has many school governing bodies. There are many school management bodies having schools spread across India such as the department of education, tribal welfare department, local bodies, government aided, private, social welfare, Kendriya vidyalaya, railway, etc. These schools fall under various categories such as higher secondary schools, universal public schools, secondary schools, public schools.
As of 2019-20, the total number of schools in India was 1.5 million and out of those, around 1.26 million schools are located in the rural parts of India. With large part of the population in the region, majority of the schools in India are located in the rural India.
Comparison of total number of schools in India and rural India (million)
Source: Department of School Education and Literacy
The above chart shows the data on schools in rural parts of India. As per this, more than 83% of the total schools are located in rural India.
As of 2019-20, India had around 42,343 colleges and about 60.56% of these colleges were located in the rural parts of the country.
Why is it important to educate rural India?
Education opens up new opportunities to access new information and technology that enables an individual to make the right decisions in both personal and professional life. It allows children to understand policies, rights, laws from the young age which will be helpful in the future. As 65% of the population of India is situated in rural areas, emphasizing on rural education will help boost the overall economy. Furthermore, it will also help in reduce migration of people from rural areas to cites of employment and create new opportunities.
Following are some of the reasons why rural education is essential for India’s growth:
Government initiatives for rural education
The biggest proponent of rural education is the government. How the structure is formed, schemes are launched and the plans are executed entirely depends on the government initiative. By understanding this, the government of India has launched many initiatives to promote education in rural areas.
Various initiatives taken by the government should assist in providing accessibility and affordability of quality education to the rural population. Sectors such as agriculture, MSMEs, dairy, fisheries, fertilizers, etc. contribute in a major way to India’s GDP growth. Hence, a well-educated rural population can make a difference in their respective areas and lend more stability to the economy. This in turn should support India’s aim to become a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2025.