The basic objective of a democratic state is to reduce inequality and the most appropriate way to remove inequality is by education. Education is process of learning and that process of learning should be according to one’s interest and pace. Basic aim of education is to develop the whole personality of an individual. Meaning of Equality of Educational Opportunities is to provide education to all irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender etc.
There are several provisions under Constitution of India which provides equality in educational opportunity. Article 21-A was added to the Constitution through 93rd Amendment Act and it says that it is mandatory to provide education to all the children aged up to14 years. Thus, Article 21-A tries to provide equal opportunity of primary education to each and every child. Article 26 of the Constitution of India is the main provision regarding equality of educational opportunities as it says Education is a Fundamental Right, and no educational institution can deny admission of any student on the basis of caste, creed, colour, religion or any of them. Also Article 46 of the Constitution provides for special education and economic interests of SC/ST and other weaker section of the society.
Inspite of above provisions of the Constitution of India, the results are not satisfactory. The reasons behind these failures are:
- Poverty: Poverty is one of the main reasons for inequality in educational opportunities. Poor Children does not get as much opportunity as the children’s’ from wealthy families get. Due to poverty lack of adequate opportunity also arises.
- Gender Discrimination: Inspite of several articles in Constitution of India, we still suffer from the problems of gender discrimination. Gender disparity is also an issue in this country. Families often value more to boy’s education in comparison of girl’s education.
- Family Background: Also the environment in family matters the most. In many cases children are the first generation learners, thus they don’t get that much support and motivation from their family members. And the children who have well educated parents get more and more encouragement and motivation. This also acts a reason of inequality. This is sometimes terms under the head of disparity between advanced and backward classes of society.
- Regional Imbalance: The issue of regional imbalance also plays an important role. Because of this the region which are not developed properly are not able to impart a quality education to the children of their region.
- Physically Disabled Children: Divyang children also face certain kind of difficulties while trying to education.
- Lack of Infrastructure: Scarcity of educational institution in several areas of the country also leads to unequal opportunities in educational field.
It would be wrong to say that steps were not taken to overcome these issues. The first and foremost step was adding the above mentioned provision in the Constitution of India. The several other steps are:
- Establishment of large number of institution throughout the country.
- The concept of pre-school like aganwadi, balwadi, play groups also spread awareness among the people towards education. It also carves the path for development by removing stagnation in primary education.
- Another major step was taken by providing scholarships and facilities like fee waive in certain institutions.
- The establishments of schools like Kendriya Vidyalaya and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya also helped in achieving the goals of equality of educational opportunities. Also the Kanyashram Schools in tribal areas aware people about the necessity of girls education and helped in overcoming gender disparity.
- Government schemes like Beti Bachaao Beti Padhaao, Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan, Prenana Schemes for SC/ST students for higher education, and several other schemes also helped in giving education to all the children of this country.
- Another major step to give education to children of remote areas were done by the government by making new central universities in remote areas which will with the pace of time develop that area.
- The laws for SC/ST’s and divyang children were made to overcome these issues of disparity.
We came a long way in this regard but yet a long way to go, as the conditions of the primary schools under state government were not up to the mark. Reports say that even the infrastructure of state oriented primary schools is not satisfactory. Shortage of teachers is another issue especially in rural areas of the country. Inadequate training of the primary school teachers also hampers the quality of education they are imparting, which definitely results in inequality as the children going to the state oriented primary school cannot compete with the children going to the private primary schools. The concept of Mid-day meal was proposed in year 1995 in order to enhance enrolment of student and further for retention and attendance of children, this scheme is successful, but not to its fullest because of lack of infrastructure the food provided by the government is not stored properly. Other reasons for inequality in educational opportunities are the cancer of corruption, lack of awareness etc. The poor implementation of laws is also a reason that we still see cases of inequality in educational opportunities.
In order to conclude, I would like to say that we have laws to enhance our primary education, but for that we need to apply those laws efficiently and properly. Enhancing the quality and reach of education in our country will help in curb many other socio, legal, economic issues.
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