Universal Education Cannot Stop

The routines of school-going children went for a toss during the COVID-19 crisis. Luckily, the overlap of COVID-19 spread with this year’s summer caused a minimal effect on school children. If the pandemic stays till the end of December as we know it, there will be repercussions for the school-going children.

India has 15.22 lakh schools and 14.2 crore students. To understand the severity of the impact on students’ education, we have to examine the educational statistics. An analysis of the report by the Department of School Education and Literacy Statistics Division gives a good insight into the quality of education based on the expenditure spent by the government on each student.

Educational Statistics At A Glance Report(Click on the link for the report)

The above figures demonstrate the state-wise annual spending on each student attending a government school. The above report states the enrolment rate of schools is >90% in most of the states. Therefore, the take-away is the importance of state-wise dependency on government for the education budget. Additionally, there is no definite correlation between the quality of education and expenditure per student as factors like private schools, enrolment role brings down the money spent per student. Further, the expenditure per student nationally is INR 3099.

From a utilization point of view, the majority of the states did not use 90% of the budget allocated for schools. Also multiplying the expenditure per student and the ratio of budget used gives us an index that determines a state’s efforts towards school education. As a lower budget utilization and a lower expenditure per student gives a low value in the index.

The following link contains the selected data required for the analysis.

https://sriheroyennana.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/number-of-institutions.xlsx

If the average national expenditure per student is INR 3100, we have to ask ourselves; How much can a parent afford on the students’ education annually? What would be the income of the students’ parents? If we consider that an average Indian household who sends their kids to a government school spend 5% on the child’s education, then their annual income would be 1.55 lakh. But an average private school fee in India ranges from INR 65,000 to INR 1,25,000 as per ASSOCHAM India. This infers that it is impossible for a student attending a government school to lead a quality life! How many students can actually afford good quality education with all the necessary infrastructure?

As per NCAER-CMCR 2010 annual income data, a person earning 17 LPA or above would qualify as the top 3 percent earning bracket. Going with a floor function, around 90% of children’s education is affected during the pandemic. As a country, our government does not have the necessary budget. Even if it has the funds, scalability will require tons of reforms and takes decades to implement.

But an attempt can be made to engage the student at a time of crisis. For that, the government has to explore the available communication channels for educational purposes. Platforms like e-learning are a tough choice as they require infrastructure and come at a premium. Byju’s charges 15,000 per subject which is a costly affair. Television, as a medium is is affordable only if the content is transmitted through a low-cost channel. Similar to Ramayan, educational content can be broadcasted to the television during the prime hours for the school children.

Using radio can be a viable solution to broadcast educational content. It will be a low-cost exercise and it has good reach. Government-owned entities like All India Radio can be used for broadcasting content, government teachers for content generation, etc.

There will be hurdles on the way like the availability of radio sets, regional content, etc., But the undertaking will receive a positive resuly. After all, We should not just watch and ignore the rights of a segment which we were a part of.

Originally published at http://sriheroyennana.wordpress.com on June 9, 2020.

An F1 fan, podcaster @IndianEntropy. I wander and write on random topics.