Prelims cum Mains Social Issues

Give breakfast in schools to attract disadvantaged kids

In News

  • The committee on National Education Policy (NEP) has suggested key reforms to tackle decline in enrolment of Under Represented Groups (URGs) in school education.


New Education Policy

  • Objective: To meet the changing dynamics of the requirements of the population with regard to quality education, innovation and research.
  • Aim:
    • To make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge
    • To eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.

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News Summary:

Under Represented Groups in Education

  • According to 2016-17 enrolment data, about 19.6% of students belong to SC at the primary school level, but it falls to 17.3% at the higher secondary level.
  • The drop-out is more severe for ST students (10.6% to 6.8%), Muslim students (15% to 7.9%), and differently-abled children (1.1% to 0.25%), with even greater decline for girls within each of these URGs.
  • The draft policy focuses on need of renewal and strengthening of “successful policies and schemes of past years” like targeted scholarships, conditional cash transfers to incentivise parents to send their kids to school and provision of bicycles for transport.

Causes of exclusion of URGs in education:

  • Lack of access to schools: While the  problem of access has been largely solved for primary and even upper primary schools, access  to  secondary  schools  and  upper secondary schools remains a very serious issue.
  • Discriminatory and exclusionary practices :
    • Poverty plays a major role in both exclusion and discrimination. Poor families struggle to  send  their  children  to  school  (even  when  there  is  access),  and  to  provide support for their schooling when they do.
    • Social mores  and  biases  also  contribute  in  a  serious  way  to  discriminatory  practices;  for  example,  many  communities  believe  that  girls  need  not  go  through formal schooling
    • Historical discrimination against various groups in our society has had a strong corresponding harmful impact on the practice of education as  well,  g.  differential  classroom  seating  based  on  caste,  or  only  girls doing domestic chores in school.
    • Curriculum and  textbooks  also often  play  a    For  some  communities, the connection between formal schooling and their own lives is unclear, e.g. in cases of exclusionary curricula that do not refer to what is familiar, valuable, or relatable to them.
  • Socio-cultural and economic issues: Various economic, social, political and historical factors that often act as barriers .For example:
    • Some children and adolescents are not sent to secondary school because of  harmful  practices  relating  to  early  or  child  marriage,  perceived  roles of gender or caste, or child labour and pressure on children/adolescents to work and earn.
    • In regions with poor hygienic conditions, lack of good sanitation and  unhealthy  food  habits  unfortunately  make  children  prone  to  chronic illnesses, thereby preventing them from attending classes consistently or at all.


Some of the key reforms suggested by the Committee includes:

  • Special Education Zones:
    • Establishing “special education zones” in disadvantaged regions with the central government extending additional investment in the ratio of 2:1 for each rupee spent by the state.
  • Availability and capacity development of teachers:
    • Inclusive education of both pre-service teacher education as well as in-service professional development
    • 25:1 pupil-teacher ratio in schools with a high proportion of learners from URGs and targeted scholarships
  • Creation of inclusive school environments:
    • Establishing mechanisms to address discrimination, harassment and intimidation by
      • Eliminating exclusionary practices,
      • Sensitising learning,
      • Removal of bias and stereotyping in school curriculum
    • Financial support to individual students by
      • Targeted scholarships,
      • Conditional cash transfers to incentivise parents to send their children to school
      • Providing Breakfast in addition to midday meal , particularly for learners in economically-disadvantaged areas,  following  similar  quality  stan-dards as for midday meals.
    • National Fund:
      • Creation of Special National Fund to provide scholarship and developing resources and facilities for students from underrepresented groups.
    • Gender- Inclusion Fund:
      • A Gender-Inclusion Fund will focus on supporting quality and equitable education for all girls.
    • Supply-side interventions to incentivise Muslims and other educationally underrepresented minorities  to  complete  school  education: 
      • Establishment of excellent schools in areas with high Muslim populations, with efforts to bridge language barriers when they exist by hiring teachers who speak and write Urdu or other home languages.
      • Imparting foundational literacy and numeracy, in accordance with the three-language formula, along with strong science, mathematics, and art backgrounds, to prepare an increasing number of students from Muslim communities and other educationally under- represented minorities for higher education.
    • Strengthening madrasas,  maktabs,  and  other  traditional  or  religious  schools,   and   modernising   their   curriculum:
      • Financial assistance to introduce science, mathematics, social studies and other languages in the curriculum in order to enable children studying in religious schools (like Madrasas ) to attain the learning outcomes.
      • Students in   religious   will be allowed and  encouraged  to  appear  for  State  Board  Examinations  and  assessments  by  the  National  Testing  Agency  in  order  to  enroll  in  higher  education institutions.

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