General Studies Paper 2 (Social Justice)
Question:- 3. What are the challenges associated with school education in India? Discuss. Answer in 250 words (15 marks)
Jun 24, 2022


India is the largest democracy with remarkable diversity among its population of 1.2 billion which makes up about 17% of the world’s population. Almost 70% of Indian population is rural. The adult literacy rate stands at about 60% and this is significantly lower in women and minorities. Education in India comprises of government, government aided and private institutions of which nearly 40% are government. With the population growth rate of 1.5%, there is tremendous pressure on the education system to provide quality education at affordable price and improve the literacy rate.


LINKAGE POINT: The following are the major challenges associated with school education in India:



  1. Access:
  • Literacy and education have been crucial challenges for rural areas.
  • The problem of school dropouts.
  • Disabled friendly schools, teachers, reading material and infrastructure has a huge void in Indian education system.
  • Access in mining areas, LWE affected areas, tea gardens of Assam etc.
  • Students have to walk miles to reach school.
  • Many schools are closed to low student strength, lack of teachers and infrastructure. The competition posed by private schools is also a major challenge to government schools.


  1. Economic issues:
  • India needs to spend 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, every national education policy (NEP) since 1968 has said. Currently, it is just 3.1% of GDP.
  • Teachers are paid miserly salaries which affect their interest and dedication to work. They look for other avenues like tuitions or coaching centers and coax the students to attend it. This has dual effect, firstly the quality of teaching in schools drop and secondly, the poor students are forced to spend money despite constitutional provision of free education.
  • The cost of education is very high even for the people and places where it is accessible. E.g. the competitive pressure on students & parents forces them to opt for private tuitions & trainings to supplement the school education.


  1. Quality:
  • Schools vary in size and resources and are forced compromise in the all- round development opportunities they must provide to students.
  • Lack of well trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers which provide the foundation for a high quality education system.- A pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of under 30:1 will be ensured at the level of each school; areas having large numbers of socio-economically disadvantaged students will aim for a PTR of under 25:1.
  • Teacher absenteeism, overburdened teachers – A study by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA) revealed that teachers spend only around 19 percent of their time teaching while the rest is spent mostly on non-teaching administrative work.
  • Career guidance is missing


  1. Infrastructure:
  • Presence of schools, classrooms, seating, washrooms, adequate drinking water, lack of laboratories
  • Studies indicate that the presence of a bulb and a fan in a classroom can positively affect attendance rates of students.


  1. Structure:
  • Huge gap between 10th and 11th class syllabus- even bright students are not able to cope up
  • Lack of flexibility in choosing subjects.
  • No vocational skills- renders them unemployable
  • Students have to separately prepare for entrances and board exams: depression, suicides
  • Every day at an average 6.23 students commit suicide due to the peer pressure, So, they are struggling to complete school projects, homework and tests and also studying for test series in coaching institutes.


  1. Social issues: women, minorities and poor suffer
  • Child-labor
  • Female-male bias- especially after attaining puberty
  • Caste based and religious discrimination in school
  • Illiterate adults have very limited opportunities to get educated at later age in their lives.


  1. Impact of pandemic: Academic performances in schools across the country have slipped below levels recorded in 2017, except in Punjab and Rajasthan, according to National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021, which has captured a widening of learning gaps caused by disruptions triggered by the pandemic.


  1. Values are missing
  • School education doesn’t prepare the students for real life. They have absolutely no one to look up to.
  • Teachers are so tied up with their syllabus completion that they hardly get time to talk about human values with the students.
  • Parents also don’t have time and the environment is filled with corruption and errors.
  • So children are learning what they are observing- through group discussions, social media etc.
  • Hence, cases of depression, disease, suicides and juvenile delinquency are increasing amongst school students.



The government has implemented schemes like the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao etc to address the above issues. Although India has tremendously improved in educating its children, the challenge now lies in making education meaningful and seamless for age groups and sections of society.

The NEP supports India’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 4 i.e. “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030 as it focuses on overhauling the curriculum, “easier” Board exams, a reduction in the syllabus to retain “core essentials” and thrust on “experiential learning and critical thinking”. It also has provisions for adults to get education  and vocational education for school students.

Recently, The Department of School Education and the Ministry of Education gained UNESCO recognition for its use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a holistic effort called PM eVIDYA. With a multi-pronged approach and participation of state and private entities, this goal can be realized.