Learning Matters and Trishikha Rao, intern
The rural population constitutes a very large part, approximately 66.46%, of our country’s population. However, the larger part of this segment does not have access to good education. If our majority does not receive basic education, how then can we possibly expect our country to be on par at a global level? According to the 2011 census, the Indian literacy rate is 74.04%, leaving nearly a quarter of the population without basic education.1 Largely, this part of the population belongs to rural India. Urban areas have a recorded literacy rate of 84.1% and rural areas have a literacy rate of 67.77%.2 This whopping 18% difference between urban and rural areas is due to a number of factors, a few of which are:
- Lack of prioritisation for female education
- Lack of good educational facilities
- Prevelance of child labour
- Lack of quality teachers and teaching resources
For our country to change its status bar from “developing” to “developed”, it is extremely essential to make sure the entire population is educated. To be able to strengthen our backbone, we must start at the very base – our rural areas.
Why do we need to improve the quality of education in rural areas?
While this seems to be a no-brainer, it is good for policy-makers, educationists, and education players to be reminded of the criticality of this. The top points are:
- It will contribute to reducing unemployment rates, thus leading to a decrease in income inequalities and subsequently, improving our GDP
- It will lead to increased awareness and understanding of sanitation and hygiene practices, thus reducing disease and sickness rates
- It will empower girls and women to become independent financially as well as mentally and emotionally which, in turn, will increase their contribution to society. This is especially important considering the female gender constitutes nearly half of the country’s population. Rural women make up 81.29 % of the female workforce in India out of which nearly 56 % is illiterate. If that changes, the contribution of women to our nation’s development will have an enormous impact
- It will contribute to enhanced awareness and adoption of best practices and advanced methods in the agriculture and small-scale industries. Occupations such as farming, weaving, and fishing contribute heavily to our nation’s economy. If more advanced tools and practices in science and technology were made available to small-scale industry practitioners, it would prove to be extremely beneficial not only for their livelihood, but also to the growth of our nation.
Every child has the right to education regardless of who they are, where they live or how much money their family has. For our country to develop and reach its fullest potential, we need to start making changes, both big and small, at the very beginning. As sung in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start.”