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Authors

Colin Shah
Colin Shah
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Alok Kirloskar
Alok Kirloskar
Pragati Khare
Pragati Khare
Devang Mody
Devang Mody
Vinay Kalantri
Vinay Kalantri
Varun Aggarwal
Varun Aggarwal
Erich Nesselhauf
Erich Nesselhauf
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Satish Kannan
Satish Kannan

Rural Education – Integral to India’s progress

Rural Education – Integral to India’s progress

Introduction
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)


Source: MOSPI

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:

  • Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in India. In 2020-21, it contributed to 20.2% of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA). As per the census 2011, about 54.6% of the country’s population was engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Out of these, about of 70% the total rural households were involved in agricultural activities; 82% of them being small and marginal farmers making it the largest source of livelihood in India. Thus, by improving rural education, agriculture sector can grow a lot with new technologies and knowledge.
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is a huge contributor to the Indian economy making up about 30% of the country’s GDP. The share of MSME related products in total exports from India was 48% during 2018-19. Out of about 63.4 million MSME’s in India, 51.25% i.e. 32.5 million MSME’s are in the rural areas. With the sector employing about 50 million people in rural India, it is one of the most important sectors in the rural economy. Hence, education is important for the growth of the MSME sector.

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.

  • Samagra Shiksha
    The is an integrated scheme for schools education launched in 2018-19 by the Indian government, covers pre-schools to class XII. It aims to ensure an equitable quality of education at all levels of school education across India. It works to strengthen infrastructure, gender equality, improving education quality, digital initiatives and the right to education for every child.
  • Shiksha Karmi Project
    The project launched in 1987 in Rajasthan works for universalization of primary schools and socio economically backward villages in the state where the existing primary education is dysfunctional. The project works to improve and adapt the type of education suiting the local needs and conditions.
  • Lok Jambish Pariyojana
    The initiative, also formed in Rajasthan in 1992, works for universalization of elementary education through mass mobilization and participation of people. It works to enroll children in regular schools and ensure they regularly attend. The project also emphasizes on active learning, child centered process and women empowerment and equality through education.
  • Digital initiatives
    To combat issues such as declining student attendance, lack of committed teachers, proper infrastructure and quality and access to education, the government has taken several digital initiatives. These digital platforms, namely e-PATHSHALA, Diksha, MOOC, SWAYAM PRABHA, and National digital library can be accessed through any part of the country.

Future Outlook
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.

 

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