The case of Prince Jaibir Singh’s admission to IIT Bombay: Daily Current Affairs

GS1: Social empowerment [GS2]-Social Justice, Education

Key phrases: Inequalities in Indian Education, GEM Report, NEP 2020

Why in news

Recently Supreme Court in its judgement directed one of India’s Institutions of Eminence, IIT Bombay, to allot a seat in the B.Tech programme to Prince Jaibir Singh, a Dalit student from Ghaziabad.


Many inequalities and exclusions in India’s education system

India’s education system is marred by gross inequalities in access, completion and quality. Class, linguistic background, gender, ethnicity and place of birth all have an impact on the educational experience children have in India. These, in turn, contribute to inequalities in knowledge in India’s society.

  1. The question of class: In India, the median number of years of education girls from the poorest families receive is zero, compared to 9.1 years for girls from the richest families. This is not just a function of unequal access to facilities of different classes. The government itself often discriminates. Thus, while India’s government runs many schools of questionable quality, it also runs some that are of the highest standard. In 2014–15, the average expenditure in government schools (at INR 16,151) was 58% of that in its Kendriya Vidyalayas (INR 27,723). The latter are a chain of government run schools for bureaucrats in transferable jobs.
  2. Linguistic exclusion: India’s linguistic diversity is ranked fourth in the world; it also heads the list of countries in the Atlas of the World’s languages in danger. Despite legal protections to mother tongue education, there has been a gradual decline in the number of languages used as a medium of instruction from 80 in 1981 to 34 in 2009. Less dominant languages have been neglected contributing to the sense of alienation of tribal learners.
  3. Geography- the disadvantage of remote schools: India has made historic efforts to expand its school network since the Right to Education Act,2009 which required primary schools to be located no more than 1 km from a child’s home. This has brought large numbers of deprived children into school, particularly in sparsely populated regions of the country. This has, however, increased the number of small schools with “inadequate infrastructure, resulting in an ongoing process of rationalizing education resource distribution which has affected school distance for secondary and higher education, particularly for girls and learners with disabilities'.
  4. Girls: Girls in India continue to have lower rates of completion. One of the major areas of concern is safety. Though States have taken steps to address girls’ education, many of these do not address systemic causes of the lower performance of girls- poor teacher capacity, inadequate quality of schools or the hidden curricula of classrooms. In Bihar, girls were provided with bicycles to facilitate access to secondary school which resulted in a 32% increase in their enrolment and a 12% increase in the number of those who passed the secondary school certificate examination.
  5. Discrimination based on caste: India’s Dalit children experience inequality in access (frequently needing to walk longer distances to main village school which may be segregated by caste) and quality (often studying in schools with higher percentage of single teacher and schools with poor infrastructure). They also often face discrimination within communities, school and classrooms, including in the Midday Meal. there were several instances where lower-caste children (Dalit) were made to sit separately from their upper-caste peers and scheduled-caste children receiving less food. However, the share of teachers from scheduled castes, which constitute 16% of the country’s population, increased from 9% in 2005 to 13% in 2013 offering hope for introduction of Dalit role models in classrooms.
  6. Persons with disability: The national Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD Act) defines inclusive education as “a system of education wherein students with and without disability learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities.” Most states have, however, not notified their respective rules under RPWD Act, despite mandatory requirement to do so within six months.

According to the 2011 Census of India, only 61% of CWDs aged between 5 and 19 were attending an educational institution; 27% CWDs never attended any educational institution, as opposed to the overall figure of 17%.States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have developed a roadmap to implement residential Bridge Courses for children with special needs to develop their skills of readiness, academic competencies and sense of motivation for successful integration in regular schools.

The case of Prince Jaibir Singh brings out how India’s premier institutions signal a lack of empathy, a formal bureaucratic rationality that has little understanding of India’s social divisions and infrastructural inequities, and a lack of imagination when it comes to fulfilling their constitutional obligations towards social justice.

Oxfam’s Global Education Monitoring Report: India's education landscape is extremely unequal. These inequalities manifest themselves in the form of differences based on caste, class and, in some cases, gender.

Way forward:

Though New Educational Policy 2020 has addressed many issues yet following measures are suggested to improve Indian education system in general.

  1. Adoption of technology: Effective use of technological tools in teaching has many benefits. It will solve the many problems of infrastructure, quality of teaching, etc.

  2. Teacher training: Teachers' training remains one of the most chaotic, neglected and deficient sectors of India's vast education system. This needs to be changed as they virtually hold the destiny of the future generations in their hands.

  3. More government spending: India targeted devoting 6% share of the GDP towards the educational sector, the performance has definitely fallen short of expectations. Also funding is needed to be spend on building infrastructure.

  4. Inclusive education system: Growth in the education sector should incorporate all sections of society like rural, urban poor ,women Backward classes etc.

  5. Quality education: Education provided should meet the needs of students. e.g. education provided to hearing impaired or slow learners. It should allow them to enhance their skills and get better employment options.

  6. PPP model: Public-Private sources and to encourage the active participation of the private sector in national development. It is more forcefully advocated when public resources are projected to be inadequate to meet needs.

  7. IES: An All India Education Services should be established which will decide the policies of education in consultation with educationalists.

  8. Education policy: Educational policy needs frequent updates. It should cover personality development aspects of students It should also imbibe values of culture and social services.

Source: Indian Expresss

Prelims question:

Q. With reference to National Initiative for School Heads' and Teachers' Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA), consider the following statements:

1. It is an initiative to build capacities of teachers and school principals at the elementary stage.
2. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) does not have any role in this initiative.
3. NISHTHA is an Integrated Teacher Training Programme of the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of HRD.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (b)