Education in Karnataka

This article emphasizes the state of education in Karnataka, written by Aashika Choudhary

-Written by Aashika Choudhary

Aristotle once said, “A civilized society is one where good people become good citizens.”

In order to fulfill this role, education is of utmost importance. The purpose of education is to produce citizens who are strong emotionally, spiritually and also in character. However education is not easily accessible to all, lakhs of students in Karnataka are unable to attend school due to basic hurdles like lack of accessibility to schools, lack of financial assistance, lack of infrastructure, lack of teachers in government schools. Keremundalahalli, a remote village in Karnataka, is deprived of basic facilities. 80% of the people in the village are illiterates. A student when interviewed, said, “We need to walk 3.5 km to Singanahalli, from where we catch a bus to go to school in Arsikere. We miss our classes if the bus does not arrive for the day.”

Roja a bright student from Kaldagi village in Karnataka said, “Once I got my class 10 marks, I asked everyone in my house to give me money for the college admission fees. I went to my father, mother and my uncle. All of them said no. They did not have enough to pay the fees. I had to pay the annual fee of Rs. 380 to get admission. But no one could give me that.” Roja had telephoned a social worker working in the education sector, desperate for help. “I want to study further. My family says they cannot support me
any longer and I need money to pay the fees for my college admission.”

To highlight the issue of inequality and lack of affordability in the education sector, Professor R S Deshpande, Director of ISEC says, “It is surprising that Bangalore being a hub of knowledge shows pathetic performance on literacy. Most of the corporate sector is happy with the cheap migrant labor. But rarely do they think about the children who are brought here and their education. Children migrating to Bangalore are often busy working or looking after their siblings.” This implies that schools are practically
inaccessible to them irrespective of free education provided at government schools.

Talking about the low quality of government schools, Dr V P Aradhya, Program Head (Right To Education) at the Centre for Child and Law, NLSIU, highlighted that “Government schools in Bengaluru, often have low number of teachers who teach every subject to students across all grades. Teachers are not respected or incentivized enough in the education system. Teacher absenteeism has been blamed for much of the shortcomings of government schools. There are even schools in the city that lack a Headmaster, requiring one among the skeletal teaching staff to do the additional administrative tasks.”India has the highest rate of illiterate adults, with an overall literacy rate which stands at 77.7 percentage. Over 287 million people in India are illiterate amounting to 37 percentage of the global total. However poverty is one of the leading causes of which has forced around 10.1 Million kids to work in various industries to support their families.

However learning comes from states like the Kerala, where a 70-seater boat was arranged to help a stranded girl living in the Vembanad backwaters, around 7 kilometers away from the normal boat channel, to appear for her exam. The mass literacy movement launched in Kerala in 2016 to improve literacy standards saw around 69,196 people become neo-literates, pass school equivalency tests at all three levels–primary, upper primary and high school.

There are more learnings from Delhi public education model which has changed the outlook of government run schools in Delhi. The first step taken by the government was to transform the school infrastructure which was followed by special emphasis on training of teachers and principals. The next step involved engaging with the community by reconstituting school management committees (SMC) who could spend money on material and short term activities like hiring short term teachers. The fourth step was to change the curriculum in order to reduce the failure rate and increase foundation learning amongst students.

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