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38 Percent Rise In Number Of Students Between 2001 And 2011

There was a time when only three things were considered as the fundamental necessities of life—food, clothing and shelter. The world moved ahead and complexities of life grew exponentially over the time. It was felt by everyone across the world that man did not need only three things if he had to lead comfortable and hassle-free life. It was no longer felt that only food, clothing and shelter can sustain the teeming millions in all parts across the globe. To handle all the affairs of day-to-day life effectively and know the world, education was added to the existing list of fundamental necessities which everyone thought indispensable. Now that the role of education has been accepted by all, all the nations the world over try to expand the reach of knowledge at every level in the interest of humanity at large. Though the developed world has more or less succeeded, the developing world and others are trying their best to provide their people with as much education as they can. According to Mr JayanJose Thomas of IIT-Delhi, in India today, there is a deep hunger for education that never existed on this mass scale before. He seems right as far as the data regarding education in the Census 2011 shows. While the population of India rose only 18 percent in the span of a decade, i.e. from 2001 to 2011, the student population in India jumped from around 229 million to 315 million that is very spectacular as it amounts to nearly 38 percent increase. The Census data was released on August 28, 2015.


The Census data, however, underscores some points which are not very encouraging and may give the ruling dispensation sleepless nights. It has clearly said that one in every five of all 7-year-olds, i.e. 4.8 million kids have not even once gone to a school which is necessary for continuing education up to even middle-school level. The Census data also makes it clear that the enrolment of children witnessed the highest rise between the period 1996 and 2004-05 because of the Government’s flagship scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan as well as a slew of the Supreme Court directives in this regard. The Census data also says that till the age of 13 years, 1.6 million children have no education at all. What is most disturbing of all the facts is pertaining to the imparting of formal education in the country. The data says that 308 million or 25 percent of the Indian population do not have any formal education. The most encouraging fact is, however, the spectacular rise in the number of enrolments in .15 to 19 age group which increased by a dramatic 73 percent in the decade, from 44 million to over 76 million. This means that the number of students studying in senior secondary schools and at the post-school higher education levels has risen tremendously. The massive increase in student populations is being driven by unprecedented growth in higher classes. And the data becomes all the more impressive because this increase shows the female students leading the change. One remarkable fact that the Census data has revealed is this that the gap between the rich and the poor in the terms of education for the whole 5 to 24 years age group has come down considerably over the years. This fact makes it clear that the poorer sections are also eager to get educated. This also means that people from these sections may be willing to make sacrifices in order to get their children educated, as far as possible.


As the Census data covers the whole country, some points presented by it are quite important as far as educating all throughout the country is concerned. It hints at one gap which needs to be filled as soon as possible. Enrolment in the 15 to 19 years age group that has witnessed a significant increase is also not uniform in nature. It varies widely across the States of India. The data has found that in Kerala the share of students in this age group was 83 percent whereas in Odisha only 43 percent students in this age group were enroled. The data also shows a poor enrolment rate in Gujarat and West Bengal where it was just 51 percent and 53 percent, respectively. This is a clear indication of the availability of higher education options in these States. The data also shows that the more industrialised and urbanised States like Maharashtra, Haryana and Tamil Nadu are among the States where enrolment rate in this age group is very high. The data will definitely help the Central Government to know the state of education in the country and make arrangements for the same wherever needed.