The failure in quality education is largely due to problems with the implementation of the educational policies and not the policies themselves.
Updated 20 Apr 2022, 8:37 am
At least more than half of the estimated 1.40 billion population (2022) of our country will be of the opinion that our country is failing and needs a serious revamp. In fact, data shows that India ranks 125/195 in life expectancy, 94/107 in the Global Hunger Index, 145/191 in the Education Index, 131/189 on the Human Development Index, 145/189 in per capita GDP, and 42/47 in employment rate, all of which are prepared by popular organisations. Subsequently, our Health system is falling apart, our education system is failing, and our economy is at a point low.
It is undeniable that there are critical failures in our policies that are inimical to growth and prosperity as a country. Firstly, there is the problem of high taxation, which many consider as indirect looting of the public. Fuel prices are at their record highest with petrol at Rs 120 and diesel at Rs 105.65 in Andhra Pradesh, when in 2013, petrol and diesel prices were only Rs 63 and Rs 49 respectively (avg.).
In addition, even basic necessities are affected by the unchecked rise in prices such as the price of LPG and the higher taxation on medicines. Secondly, there is the problem of primary issues of the government. There are many who criticise the building of the Statue of Unity at Rs 3,000 crore or the Central Vista Project at Rs 13,450 crore when the country is reeling under poverty and the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are other problems such as the attempt to saffronise the country and religious and cultural intolerance that the country needs to make amends with.
However, despite these facts, there are also policies of the government that could bring significant changes to the country if properly implemented.
For instance, in the education sector, as per Educational Statistics at Glance (2013-2014), a data report by the Statistics Division, Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, there are over 1,186,570 government and government aided schools and 786 institutions for Higher Studies. Moreover, the total expenditure on education (revised estimate, 2013-2014) is Rs 441629.04 crore, with an estimated yearly expenditure (in rupees) of 4,610 for a primary student, 5,386 for upper primary, 7,459 for secondary, 12,619 for higher secondary, 13,478 for graduates, 15,999 for post-graduates and above, and 15,997 for Diplomas per student. Subsequent rough data estimation shows that there is one government school for every 250 children in the country.
While the Education sector is said to be far lacking behind with the literacy rate standing at 74.04 per cent (2021), the approximate data assessment however shows that we have enough institutions, if not many, to properly furnish education in the country. As a result, one could therefore notice that the failure in quality education is largely due to problems with the implementation of the educational policies and not the policies themselves.
Unfortunately, this is higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas. While government schools and colleges in cities and towns, more or less, function well, it is poles apart in rural areas where government schools only function in record papers. This may also be one reason why the number of private institutions is rocketing, especially in rural areas and small towns with unregulated fees adding to the burden of school-going children's parents.
Further, government Health Centres including Hospitals are an issue to deliberate. There are not many Health Centres (PHCs/CHCs/DHs) that are functioning properly. In a recent case in the state of Manipur, a retired footballer died due to the absence of doctors and proper medical facilities in a nearby Health Centre. Such could be the case for a thousand more people who had lost their lives because of the lack of doctors and proper medical facilities.
A key question is: is it because of the lack of doctors or the gap in proper implementation? Moreover, it is common that most doctors employed in government hospitals establish their own private clinics or hospitals, eventually failing to look after their roles and responsibilities as government employees.
Likewise, there are a number of schemes and projects in almost all departments under the government for poverty upliftment and social security and prosperity. Notable is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), the world's largest health insurance scheme fully financed by the government, and provides a cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year. In addition, the popular PM-KISAN is also another commendable policy of the government for the poor farmers of the country. However, whether these policies and programmes reach and serve the needy and the poor is a question to ponder.
For these reasons, it is evident that the disparity between policies and their actual development is because of the wide implementation gap that exists between them. If the implementation gap could be bridged, it is promising that so much potential can be reached. Therefore, the entirety of these issues calls for policy implementation support that will work as an agency to oversee the proper implementation of policies and programs. This support body will have various responsibilities such as tracking policies from their formulation to execution, establishing transparency and accountability of the implementing body or organisation, monitoring the performance and assessment of progress on policies so implemented. An initiative as such could significantly check corrupt practices that are rampant, especially within government agencies, and also boost the efficiency of policy execution.
If done so, there could be a significant overturn in the country's run towards socio-economic and political progress. Therefore, it is now the nick of time to initiate policy implementation support so that the hard thought and groundbreaking policies do not rot in vain. Nevertheless, it is not to be concluded that India already has all the policies it needs -and it can always achieve higher.