Published: 11th June 2021
AISHE 2019-20: Rural India has 60% of our colleges, but how robust is the primary education there?
There are 92,275 elementary and secondary schools in India that have only one teacher, the Ministry of Education (then MHRD) had said in 2019
Out of the 42,343 colleges that India has, a majority of them — 60.56 per cent — are in the rural areas, stated the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) report 2019-20 released on June 10. This is a slight increment on last year's number — 60.53 per cent.
The majority of India resides in rural areas, so it isn't a surprise that rural regions would have more colleges. But merely having the colleges in place is not all, they have to be well-equipped too. The pandemic has brought out the disparity in urban and rural education to the fore. And it's not just in higher education. School education suffers even more. The question educationists have often posed is whether it is fruitful to concentrate just on building universities and colleges when the primary education sector needs attention. Lack of infrastructure was an issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit India.
Building from ground up
There are 92,275 elementary and secondary schools in India that have only one teacher — this is what the Ministry of Education (then MHRD) had said to a question in Lok Sabha during the 2019 Budget Session. It was based on provisional figures of the Unified District Information System of Education (UDISE), 2016-17. The data also stated that Madhya Pradesh (18,307) and Rajasthan (12,052) top the list states with single-teacher schools, accounting for nearly one-third of the total. “It’s not uncommon to find surplus teachers in an urban school while a single teacher may manage 100-plus students in a rural school. Some states have a shortage of more than 40 per cent,” said a 2019 study by NITI Aayog.
The study added that changes should be made to the traditional strategies of Right to Education (RTE) to improve the quality of school education. “India today suffers from the twin challenges of unviable sub-scale schools and a severe shortage of teachers which makes in-school interventions only marginally fruitful,” it further read.
The pressure on the universities is also immense. There are 16 Universities, which have 500 or more colleges affiliated to them. "Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Kanpur University, Kanpur has the maximum number of colleges (946). Evidently, there are wide variations in the number of colleges per district. In juay10 districts, almost 10.7 per cent of colleges are located out of the total number of colleges in India. However, the top 50 districts have about 32 per cent of colleges," read the AISHE report.
But the Education Minister seems hopeful. "Today, I'm extremely proud to share that India is taking a leap in the field of education and research and is emerging as a Vishwaguru," he tweeted when the QS Ranking declared three Indian universities in their top 200 list. But are we really that close to becoming world leaders?