The National Statistics Office (NSO) conducted a nationwide survey and titled it “Household Social Consumption: Education” which reveals that India’s rural-urban gap has extended in the education system as well including expenditure on education and the access over a digital platform. It revealed a massive gap in the expenses on education between the rural and urban areas, especially for the schools.
A student’s education until higher secondary, on average costs in a rural household Rs.28, 157 but for an urban household, it is Rs.84, 712. A possible reason for the discrepancy in expenditure on education could be the preference of private schools over government schools. According to the survey, 76.1% of students from rural households attend primary and middle schools run by the government as compared to the urban houses which are as meagre to 38% of the students. The gap becomes much small when it comes to graduates and further higher education with 49.7% in the rural and 41% in the urban, where students are opting to study in government institutions.
Now in the Covid- 19 pandemic situation where most of the schools are changing to the online mode of education, the gap extends in the digital mode of education as well. Only 4% of rural households have access to computers as compared to 23% of urban households. 14.9% of the rural household has internet access in comparison to 42% of urban households. The survey also says that in rural households 9.9% students can operate a computer in comparison to 32.4% in urban household and 13% can use the internet as compared to 37.1% in urban household and only 10.8% have used the internet in the last 1 month in comparison with 33.8% in the urban household.
With the existing disparity gender discrepancy in rural household exist as well, with females in rural areas being at the lowest percentage in all three aspects with 7% having access to computers, 8.5% female students can operate a computer and 6.6% students can use the internet and compared to this urban male being the highest 37.5%, 43.5%, and 40.4% respectively.
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Drop- out Rate and Accessibility to Schools
The survey revealed that the proportion of students who complete their secondary education is almost at the same level between rural and urban households. The survey reported that in rural households 15% of students complete their higher secondary education and 19% of students complete in urban households. The survey also has given the percentage of drop out in both rural and urban areas especially for the primary and secondary level schools which stood at 18% and 20% for rural and 15% and 17% respectively for urban.
On accessibility to schools, only 7% of the rural household have primary schools within 1 km as 82.7% of schools are present within 1 km in urban areas. 38% of students from rural households have access to secondary schools as compared to 70% in urban areas on similar parameters.
The All India Literacy rate among children of 7years and above is 77.7%, among which for the rural literacy of the same age group is 73.5% and that of urban literacy is 87.7%.
Steps Need to Consider
These problems related to rural education can be upgraded if the government takes some preliminary steps. The first is boosting of free education or if education is provided with a minimal fee. This will certainly bring up the literacy rate as more and more parents will be eager to send their kids to schools if they are not required to bear the expenses of their education. The solution can be found only if the government takes an initiative to establish affordable schools that are pocket-friendly to the middle as well as lower-middle-class people of the society.
Our country is progressing technologically and sadly, the imprint of this advancement has yet not reached many parts of the rural areas. This has led to a digital gap in urban-rural India. The schools in rural India are required to get equipped with computer education and need to impart students with technological education as well. This will help them be on par with the level of urban education and develop themselves better. Even though the government is working to improve state education in the country, there is still a lot to be improved. There is a growing awareness among people about education but the lack of infrastructure is being a major obstacle that needs an active intervention by the government.