‘Collate children specific data in the state and the status of education (elementary education) in West Bengal – cite official websites, valid secondary sources.'
“The only service to be done for our lower classes is, to give them education, to develop their lost individuality.”- Swami Vivekananda Education acts as an enabler of socio economic development. Elementary education implies eight years of compulsory schooling that begins from the age of six. The government has come up with unique steps to make primary education free and compulsory for all. Important in this context is the Right To Education Act, 2009. It has also enacted schemes and provisions for ensuring that every child gets the opportunity to learn and grow socially and become self reliant. Universal Elementary Education goals require children in the age group of 6-13 years to attend school. The government came up with the SSA or "Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan" in 2001 so as to bring improvement in the elementary education system of the country. There are other programs like Mid Day Meal Scheme taken up by the government to help increase attendance rates in school.
Despite these measures, the concept of universal elementary education has not yet reached its desired goals. We can analyse the elementary education scenario as well as children specific issues in the state of West Bengal in the past few years. We also need to examine whether there has been any evidence of increased participation in elementary education.
According to Census of India, 2001:
Literacy rate in West Bengal was 68.64%
For Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were 59.04% and 43.40% respectively. •
The literacy rate for Muslims was 57.5%
In the year 2001, West Bengal’s literacy rate was 68.6%, slightly above the all India literacy rate of 64.8%
NUEPA, the professional wing of Government of India, with specialisation in policy, planning and management in education, has created a comprehensive database on elementary education in India under one of its flagship project, District Information System of Education (DISE), supported by the Ministry of Human Resources Development and UNICEF.
The National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) has recently developed School Report Cards of more than one million Primary and Upper Primary schools(2008-09). Covering 11,24,033 schools, the publication updates more than 400 variables for 604 districts across 35 states and union territories on all aspects of universalisation of education, and shows that Kerala, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh are the top five while Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Assam are the five bottom-ranked states. It also reports that:
A large number of states have not been able to make much progress in the area of computer-aided learning and therefore are far behind the target of achievements. •
Arunachal Pradesh (4.16) and West Bengal (5.48) are the only two states which has high ratio of Primary to Upper Primary schools/sections. The Facility indicators of DISE outline the number of new Government schools in West Bengal during the year 2008-09:
Primary schools: 756
Upper Primary Schools: 172
Average no. of instructional days: 201
Facility Indicators of DISE (2008-09) in context of all schools:
Percentage of schools(all schools) having drinking water facilities: 82.71 (in contrast to 78.83 in 2007-08)
Average Student-Classroom Ratio (SCR): 47 (in contrast to 51 in 2007-08)
% Schools having Girl's Toilet: 41.18 (in contrast to 35.13 in 2007-08)
% Schools having Computer: 5.90 ( in contrast to 4.99 in 2007-08)
There is wide variation across states in literacy rates. Literacy rate of West Bengal during 2011 was 77.1% compared to 93.9% for Kerala. However, total number of illiterates in the state started declining from the year 2001. It appears that West Bengal ranks quite low among all the states in terms of...
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