Accordingly, provision for compulsory and free education should have been made throughout India at the junior secondary stage. The Planning Commission after taking the difficulties and shortcomings into consideration came to the conclusion that it was not possible to fulfill this objective within a period of ten years.
As such, the age group and the education standard have been reduced to six to eleven years at the primary stage. But even this target could not be achieved by the end of the Second Plan.
So the period of providing free and compulsory education upto the primary stage for boys of 6 to 11 years age group has been extended till the end of Third Plan.
Similarly, the period for providing free and compulsory education to boys of 6 to 14 years age group upto the junior secondary stage has been extended in all the successive Five Year Plans.
In this connection it was taken into consideration that by achieving the targets of primary education by the Third Plan a large percentage of students having completed the primary education will join the junior secondary classes and in this way targets fixed for the junior secondary education in the constitution will also be achieved, but all these expectation have been belied.
Some other difficulties will crop in achieving the targets of pilot programmes and it will be necessary that efforts are made to solve them side by side with the expansion of education.
These difficulties relate to pattern of education, courses of studies, school management, finances and administration. These aspects should also be considered in connection with primary education.
It is necessary to increase the number of primary schools for the expansion of primary education. Education at this stage will succeed only if schools are situated near the residents of students and there are no natural obstructions in their coming to schools.
This does not mean that schools should be opened in each village. India has over five and a half lakh villages and although it is not impossible to provide each village with a school yet it is extremely difficult. The other thing to be considered is that one-teacher-schools will not meet the requirements of primary education on the basic pattern.
Before opening a school it should also be taken into consideration whether according to the capacity of the school, students will be available in the area or not. The population of about 65 per cent of the village in the country is below 500 persons per village.
As such for a reasonably useful arrangement it is desirable to examine the area and the number of students likely to come forward before opening a school. This problem is not faced in cities.
The rural public has some of its own special problems. Some people, due to ignorance, do not attach much importance to education, while others consider it an obstruction in their professions.
Some people, despite their desire, fail to send their children to schools due to poverty and put them to work in their trade. Some attach more importance to their trade and consider it more profitable to give the boy training of their vocation instead of education.
It is, therefore, necessary to change the pattern of education and make it more attractive so that parents get interested to educate their children. Primary education should be based on the local conditions.
In rural areas, besides education, vocational training should also be provided so that the boys may help their parents while pursuing studies. Interest in the rural public will increase only when these reforms are introduced.
Personal contact and persuasion by educational officers and teachers with the ignorant masses which do not understand the worth of education will be necessary to convince them to send their children to schools.
Due place has to be given to the local or regional traditions in primary education. Persons speaking some particular languages and some belonging to particular religions and sects are more attached to their mother tongue and faiths and although the partiality towards a particular group is not in keeping with national sentiments, even then, some such arrangements should be made so that these persons may feel at home in primary schools.
There is no basic need for separate schools for girls at the primary stage, but some particular section of the society must have the freedom to establish schools of their own choice.
Particular emphasis and priority should be given on the opening of primary schools in industrial, tribal and back-ward areas. Some attention has been given to these areas during the seven Plans and many voluntary organisations, too, are making efforts to spread primary education in such areas.
There is an acute problem regarding the availability of trained teachers for certain areas. Educated men and women do not want to live in villages. There is a shortage of trained teachers in the country.
A large number of teachers are required to implement the programme of compulsory education. The teachers generally do not take equal interest in all the subjects in the single-teacher-schools. Education suffers in the class when the number of students is very huge.
It is necessary in the interest of the development of primary education to look into these problems. Residential facilities should be provided in villages for keeping the teachers there. The teachers living in the villages should be posted near their homes.
It is estimated that about 50 lakhs of teachers will be required to implement the programme of compulsory education throughout the country. The present strength of the teachers is only 20 lakhs.
As such, it is difficult to train such a large number of teachers in a short period. One of the ways to meet this shortage is that men and women who have received education upto the secondary stage should be appointed as teachers in primary schools and they should be gradually trained in shorter courses after dividing them in groups.
In this way, teachers will be available for primary schools and the problem of unemployment of educated persons, too, will be partially solved. The single-teacher-schools should be provided so that a teacher may not have to teach more than two classes. If the number of students is large in a class, it should be divided into sections.
This system has been adopted at the primary stage almost in all the developed countries of the West while introducing compulsory primary education. Equitable and proper distribution of teachers is essential for the expansion of primary education and the number of students will be increased in the class, if one teacher is entrusted with the responsibility of teaching only a single class.
Courses of Study:
Educational development schemes and changes should be implemented at the primary stage in the first instance. In the present condition, education based on local requirement is the best. So there is a need to change the current courses of study.
The basic education enunciated by the Education Ministry of the Government of India (now known as the Ministry for the Development of Human Resources) was considered to be more useful and the Government made efforts for its expansion.
But the problems could not be solved by introducing basic education at the primary stage alone. The courses of study in the primary schools, besides considering the local needs, should have also taken into account the teaching of hygiene and civics. They should also try to develop a constructive attitude in the students.
There is a difference between the educational needs of rural and urban areas. In accordance with the prevailing atmosphere provisions should also be made for the teaching of some vocational course in the urban schools, while emphasis may be laid on including subjects like agriculture and horticulture in the courses to be studied in the rural schools.
The teaching of a local industry, simple general science, arithmetic, social science and the national language should be common in both rural and urban schools. The basic education scheme of the Education Ministry has been a fairly good scheme, but it involved huge expenditure and despite the assurances of the Central and the State Governments to provide financial help, its success has never been satisfactory.
Due consideration should be given to the expenditure likely to be incurred in the above proposals. The help of craftsmen in the urban areas for giving guidance to boys in industrial teaching and farmers in the rural areas for teaching agriculture and allied subjects may easily be secured.
There is a shortage of suitable buildings for primary schools. The primary schools should be housed in well- ventilated and spacious buildings. These buildings should possess open fields so that the boys may have full opportunities for games and exercise and also for some industrial and agricultural training.
More spacious buildings and open land attached to them will be needed in future to implement the basic education programmes. This will be a difficult job. Spacious buildings are necessary for basic education, but that does not mean that in their absence the education expansion programmes be shelved.
Our national aim is to introduce free and compulsory education throughout the country and we should remain active to achieve that goal even if there is a shortage of buildings and open land.
To begin with, primary schools, should in the meantime, be opened in public buildings like Panchayatghar (Building for village council), Dharamshalas (rest houses for travellers) or private residential houses and gradually proper buildings and equipments may be arranged.
National and Local Arrangements:
The co-operation from both the public and the Government is needed for the expansion and development of primary education. The Central and State Governments have been particularly active in this direction, but they have not achieved much success.
There are two main reasons for this failure. Firstly, the various parts of the government machinery are not functioning efficiently and the system of their working is defective.
Secondly, there is a lack of public co-operation and whatever co-operation had come forth has not been properly utilised. Changes are needed in the present system for overcoming these shortcomings.
The Central Government in co-operation with the State Governments should formulate a plan which should not suffer from the prevailing defects and through which maximum co-operation of the public should be secured. The first necessity is that of effecting changes in the rules relating to compulsory education.
In the present system, the relation of educational officers with teachers and public has been bitterly criticised. The relations between them should not be that of a ruler and the ruled. Instead, it should be based on comradeship and mutual respect.
Public and teachers’ distrust of the education officer and their indifference towards education is the result of improper behaviour of education officers. It is the duty of education officers to develop contacts with the public, understand their needs, provide education accordingly and secure their co-operation in the expansion and development of primary education.
The public co-operation has been found of immense value in the expansion of primary education. Where, on the one hand, it created public interest, on the other, the public itself provides some facilities.
There are hundreds of examples of money, land and building donations. The officer staff and teachers connected with primary schools should, besides establishing contact with the public, also make efforts to create interest in the public.
When the local public, realises that schools are for its welfare, they will participate fully in their development and a stage may be reached when the public will itself contribute in the establishment of more primary schools.
Many other problems relating to the development of primary education may crop up. It is better to examine, discuss and conduct researches to improve the pattern of education and to solve problems relating to buildings, and curriculum, etc.
This work may be successfully taken up in training colleges and universities. The Ministry of the Development of Human Resources of the Government of India and education department of State governments should establish special committees and institutions on a large scale in order to take up the research work.
Apparently, the problem of removing illiteracy from the country is a difficult job. In order to achieve success in this sphere, an education-expansion movement should be launched with the co-operation of the government and the public.
The examples of various countries are there to guide us and this work, although difficult, is not impossible to carry out. Eighty per cent of illiteracy has to be wiped out from the country with the help of various plans.
It is a national obligation in which every citizen has to participate. The financial difficulties, too, will be solved if proper and enough enthusiasm is generated.