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Challenges and Problems of India's Education System: Case Study of the Success of the Education Policy Reforms in Kerala State

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Challenges and problems of India's education system: Case study of the success of the education policy reforms in Kerala state.

Abstract

There is much evidence about the role of education in terms of accelerating economic development. Most theories suggest that only the nations whose populations are healthy and educated will tend to sustain economic growth and development in the long run. Even more predominant is the notion that especially the nations whose female population is well educated tend to perform better than their counterparts where women are not treated equally with the men and thus do not receive much attention when it comes to schooling and nutrition. The experience of the Indian society tends to follow this pattern, which has been heavily argued in the economic literature. In this paper I am going to argue that a well-designed investment in education and especially in the education of women has been a key to the successful story of the economic development in the state of Kerala and thus I argue that their model of economic development could be easily implemented in entire India and in general in any developing country that seems to be struggling with the similar problems that those Kerala state successfully managed to decrease to the marginal levels.

Introduction and Motivation:

The common perception is that each year India's education system graduates millions, many of whom are high skilled in engineering and information technology. This, together with India's recent economic advances, masks engrained problems within India's education system. At the same time India's demographics are generally perceived to give it an advantage over other countries in terms of youthful population, however, if this advantage is limited to a small, highly educated elite, the economic ramifications could be severe. With 33% of the population under the age of 15 , India's education system faces numerous challenges, especially because the spending on education has been roughly 4 % for the past few years, despite government's numerous promises to increase that figure.

The basis of the problem in the set up of the education system is that on one hand, India's top universities and graduate schools produce individuals that are highly competitive on the global market, but on the other hand, primary and secondary schools, especially in the rural areas , suffer form the lack of qualified teachers as well as low enrolment rates . Moreover, India is a society where the male is revered and therefore women, especially the young girls, get very little respect and standing in society. Thus, it is not hard to imagine that the girls' enrolment in the primary and secondary education has been impacted by the social structure of Indian society.

Theoretical Issues

There are several reasons for expecting to find some link between education and economic growth that is ultimately needed for any country trying to achieve higher levels of economic development. Over the course of past few centuries, the standards of living have increased significantly, and it is very likely that this change took place because of the investment in human capital and more generally in education. This type of progress was enjoyed by many European countries and not so much by the societies that were and still are primarily illiterate. To the most casual observer it must appear that there is an association between scientific advance and the way in which education has accelerated the development of knowledge. Moreover, there exists a wide range of econometric literature that indicated that the individuals with higher levels of education also earn more on average. If this is the case that more educated people earn more then it also should be true that the countries with more educated populations will also tend to have higher incomes and standards of living. Thus if spending on education brings about returns of some kind, in the very sense of it, it should be sensible to think about investing in human capital in much the same way as spending on fixed capital. Therefore it is reasonable to think and analyze the spending on education as an investment decision.

At the same time, education is a public good and from the economist's point of view, the provision of public goods tends to lead to the market failure, in which market does not produce efficient results. The provision of public goods such as education results in positive externalities, which are not accounted for. If private organizations don't receive all the benefits of a public good which they produce/provide, they are not likely to have enough incentives to produce them voluntarily.

On the other hand, consumers can take advantage of public goods without paying sufficiently enough so that the price does not reflect the market value of the public good, such as education. This is what is commonly called the free rider problem in the economic literature.

Nature and extent of the problem in India

At the moment, India is one of the fastest growing and developing countries in the world. Yet, despite its impressive performance both in terms of industrial growth and advances in economic development, it is falling behind when it comes to human development indices. The situation in its education system looks fairly depressing, especially when compared to for example China, whose economic situation is quite similar, yet it is managing its education system in more systematic and more efficient ways. Moreover, it is shocking to realize that while India's population is already over a billion people, only about thirty per cent of World's illiterate population comes from India. There are several problems that India's education system is plagued with. Among the people who are most affected by the flawed system are those living in rural areas. Misallocation of the government spending on education along with the dismal conditions of the poor rural schools add up to the low quality of education provided to the children living in those areas. Generally, we are talking about the enrolment in primary and middle schools of about fifty per cent , which is very low comparing to the enrolment rates in most of the developed countries. In addition to the low enrolment rates, there is also a very high dropout incidence, where many of the children leave the school before even completing 4th or 5th grade. There are several reasons for why these children leave school. Among many are working in the fields, lack of interest etc. Moreover, the largest dropout rates exist

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