What is Elementary Education, its Importance & What are the Issues with Elementary Education
Elementary education is very important for a society and a country at large.
We simply can’t express importance of elementary education in just one article. In this article we shall debate how elementary education is important for India.
We will debate in great details about its importance and we shall also compare state of elementary education in India and elsewhere in the world.
We also get to debate issues with our elementary education and how do we move forward.
So this article we will be a great insight about the state of elementary schools in the country. You must read it even if you don’t have to do anything with elementary education.
What is Elementary Education?
Elementary education is also called primary education in India.
In US and other parts of the world it is called as elementary education or elementary schools. But here in India we simply say primary schools.
Primary education starts at age of 5 and ends when he or she is 12 to 13 years old. In India primary education starts from Class 1 or grade 1 and goes up to Class 6/7 or Grade 6/7.
Elementary education does not include Kinder Garden and pre schooling. So in India elementary education or primary school is from Class 1 through Class 7.
Importance of Elementary Education
We could write an entire article or a book dedicated to importance of elementary education in India.
Elementary education is very important whether you are living in a developing country or a developed world.
Let me start with giving you an example of South Korea, when South Korea started her journey as a nation state she was very poor however after investing in education especially in primary South Korea became a developed economy.
Today South Korea has a GDP per capita of over $25,000, back in 1950 it was a poor country with no basic amenities. Now we use Samsung, we drive Hyundai etc.
It happened only because of the government there that declared education emergency.
Similarly other developed countries in Europe and North America did the same thing. Still they spend high amount of money on primary education.
However importance of primary education in India increases compared to rest of the developed world.
First of all let us debate why higher education is more important than Primary education.
Well both of them are important but in Indian context I can say primary education is more important than secondary education.
It is because if you want to eliminate or reduce poverty then primary education is going to do it not higher education.
Let me explain this in great detail.
As you know India’s main challenge is poverty, we need to uplift millions of people out of poverty and we can’t do it unless we focus on elementary education.
Primary education starts from Class 1st when child is 5 years old. Primary education does not only mean a classroom, books and a teacher (that is bare minimum) but nutrition, clothes and creating an environment where a child can learn new things every day, an environment that can help in bringing out best within a child.
Infrastructure like chair, table, books, stationery, a classroom and teachers is bare minimum that any government could provide.
They need to do more than that like teaching children how they can imagine and bring out their inner talent that they can use later in their life.
If we have to bring people out of poverty then we need social mobility and social mobility can’t be achieved unless we focus on primary education and health.
However on the other hand higher education does not solve this problem.
Higher education starts when you come out of high school or 10+2.
So if child is 5 years old and live in a family which is below poverty line then the child needs primary education not higher education.
Therefore if government is spending only on higher education that is not going to change the status of child because higher education is all about colleges. And by the time the child living in a family below poverty line reaches the age of 16 his or her mind has already been shaped.
So it is of no use if the government is spending on higher education.
That is the difference between importance of higher and primary education.
Issues with Elementary Education in India
There are some serious challenges and issues with our elementary education in India.
We have divided challenges in four to five different categories.
Infrastructure is a big problem that primary education faces in the country. It covers whole lot of things that we will be debating in coming paragraphs.
2. Separate Girls Toilet
The first reason why so many girl children choose to drop out of primary education is toilet. Many primary schools don’t have separate toilets for girls.
3. Usable Toilets for Children
If toilets are there then they are not clean so children can’t use them. So toilet is a big issue that our primary schools are facing.
Then comes electricity, many schools in India do not have electricity. No fans, lights and other equipments in a classroom.
5. Drinking Water Facility
Clean Drinking water is also not available in many primary schools across the country. Many schools simply don’t have taps.
6. Separate Teacher’s Toilet
Even teachers don’t get basic facility like toilet. There is no separate toilet for teachers whether they are gents or ladies.
7. Compound Wall
Schools don’t have proper compound. There is no wall so it does not look like a school.
No playground for children. Children need other activities like playing, music etc. But many primary schools don’t have playground.
You can’t make out whether it is a school or an animal husbandry. The reason is many primary schools across the country do not have buildings.
Kids have to commute long distances by walking. They don’t have transportation like bus or a school van. So enrollment is less.
Now we shall also debate issues with teachers that our primary education is facing.
1. Teachers Education Graduate
Many of teachers are not even graduate so they can’t teach properly due to lack of training.
2. Teacher with High School
Many teachers are just high school pass out so they don’t know how to teach a kid. Educational qualifications of teachers are not good.
3. Head Teacher
There are no head teachers available in a given primary school.
4. Multi grade Teaching
Multi grade teaching is also a big problem for primary education in India.
5. Presence of Teachers
Teachers are not present in the classroom. They are paid but they don’t go to classroom to teach. This is very common in rural India.
6. Teachers Shortage
Moreover in a given classroom teacher to student ratio is very low. There is serious shortage of good teachers in the country.
Teachers are facing others issues also. Like they don’t have home near to school they teach.
Their home is so far away that they can’t reach the school on time.
Caste related issues are also very prevalent in our primary school in rural India. You may have read many stories in newspaper. So I am not going to talk here.
Economic Background of the Parents
This is very important. Many parents simply can’t send their kid to school because they can’t afford it.
Parents from poor background can’t send their kids to school.
So you can understand that there are two basic problems that our primary education is facing. One is infrastructural crisis and other is human resource challenge.
How do we Move Forward
Now we need to conclude this article by saying we have to move forward and if we have to move forward then you simply can’t ignore the importance of primary education in the country.
It is primary education that can heal India not higher education. So government needs to start focusing on primary education for changing the face of the country.