Policies in Maharashtra, the wealthiest Indian state, impact the whole country. The state government plans to cut down night school hours from 3.5 to 2.5 hours per day. Moreover, day school teachers, which were earlier restricted to work in night schools, can now apply again. The policy will be ready within two months, and the government will present it to the legislature in the next session.
After 75 years of India’s Independence, the country hasn’t been able to get all its children to the school. In 2020-21, the school dropout rate in India at the secondary level (Grade 9-10) stood at a fairly high 14.6%. 2011 census claims that over 10 million children are engaged in child labour.
Can night schools make a change? Working teens and adults can continue schooling at night without missing their job hours during the day. Maharashtra hosts 176 such night schools, with Mumbai alone accounting for 150. But the lack of staff and funds continues to be a big hurdle. Half of them don’t even have a principal. Maharashtra government will reinstate 865 regular teachers for night schools across Mumbai under the new policy.
The Way Out
As the New Education Policy (NEP) recommended, the central government should spend at least 6% of its budget on education.
But in 2021-22, India allocated only 3.1%. UNESCO in 2021 re- ported that India faces a dearth of about 1 million teachers. Over the past years, the government has opened plenty of schools but didn’t manage to get enough teachers. The Pupil To Teacher ratio (PTR) for senior secondary grades in the country is alarmingly low at 47:1. Upgrading the quality and quantity of its teaching force is a necessity for India.
As rightly quoted by the American Activist Malcolm X, “educa- tion is the passport to the future.” India can not hope for a better tomorrow if it doesn’t invest in education today. With a strong will to perform and persevere, no one can stop India from becoming the “work engine” of the world.