Mukherjee, Dipa (2004): Educational Attainment in India: Trends, Patterns and Policy Issues. Published in: Journal of Educational Planning and Administration , Vol. 19, No. 4 (October 2005)
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Education is the basic requirement and the ‘Fundamental Right' of the citizens of a nation. While Higher Education is important, the Elementary Education system serves as the base over which the Super-structure of the whole education system is built up. This paper tries to analyse the trends, patterns and interacting factors affecting the quantitative and qualitative aspects of School Education System in India in recent years. It is observed that complete Literacy has not been achieved and this has far reaching socio-economic impacts. Enrolments in schools have improved substantially in recent years but the Retention rates are poor, and only a fraction of enrolled students completes even the Primary classes. Completion of Middle and Secondary levels are still lower. Substantial Gender-bias in both access to, and completion of education is a major cause of concern. Wide regional variation exists even within this sub-standard performance of the Basic Education system. While few states have performed moderately, others have done abysmally, and continue to do so. Factors like poverty, presence of a wide child-labour market, absence of assured employment after schooling, and infrastructural problems are identified as responsible for the ills plaguing the elementary education system in India. Providing incentives for attending schools, making the schooling process attractive to the children, streamlining the middle and high school curriculum to make it more vocational and job-oriented, and providing better infrastructure for the schools are some of the policies likely to improve the scenario.