With the largest youth population between the ages of 15 and 29 years, India in 2020, has 64% of its population within employable age. The realization of the potential demographic dividend can only take place with an education policy that is modern, skill-oriented and universal.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) programme and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act have been instrumental in the universalization of education to a substantial degree, yet, the educational goals that we should aspire for expect us to go beyond the achievement of universal enrolment of students in the primary schools, however, that is the first step.
Statistics show that over one-third of children drop out of the schools without completing their elementary education. The sections that form the majority of the drop outs are the marginalized including the SC/ST, minorities and the children with disabilities.
The learning outcomes that are expected for development to be feasible has not been reached as evidenced by studies such as National Achievement Survey 2015 conducted by the National Council on Educational Research and Training.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can only be realized if the broad-based education initiatives of the government are couple with micromanaged educational policies spearheaded by the civil society in conjunction with the government.
A factor that have received a lot of concern from the visionaries is early childhood education is the knowledge that in India only 70% of the 3-6 age group children are enrolled in preschools. This amounts to over 20 million children being out of the scope of early childhood education which has been globally regarded as one of the important parameters of scholastic success in the 21st century. The New Education Policy is reported to have taken some decisive steps in ensuring the plugging of this monumental gap.
In 2015, it was estimated that young people contributed to about 34% of India’s gross national income. The figure must rise and with quality education employability must also significantly move up.
One of the state Initiatives for employability of the educated came in the form of the National Youth Policy of 2014. It was in consonance with the Sustainable Development Goals. The idea was to empower the youth with skills enabling them to make space for themselves in the job market.
UN Support for Nation States
The international agencies that form and direct policy initiatives for quality education, educational equity and employability are the UNICEF and UNESCO. Other organizations and agencies that are part of the convention include the FAO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UN Women, UNODC, WFP, and UN-Habitat.
In India, the convention targets the children in the 6-14 age group for providing quality education, aligning to the national priority. The group focuses on international best practices adoption and ensuring equal educational opportunity for the children from the marginalized sections.
An initiative of the UNICEF included the recognition and adoption of child-friendly schools and systems (CFSS) guiding principles 2014. The aim was to turn the schools increasingly child friendly through the integration of CFSS indicators into state plans.
To promote inclusive education though intensive intervention, the UNICEF, in collaboration with UNESCO, ran a project entitled, ‘Promoting the Rights of Disabled Children to Quality Education’. Under the project, the curriculum was made more inclusive and teachers were trained to accommodate the needs of the children with disabilities.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.