Several factors like Fund cuts, a learning crisis, poor assessment practices and a shortage of teachers are weakening India’s demographic dividend. The demographic dividend is the growth potential a country holds when its population is comprised of a high share of those in the working age (15 to 64 years).
With 66% of its 1.3 billion people in the working age of 15 to 64 years, India is a country with one of the world’s youngest population. According to an ongoing international study, IndiaSpend reported that more children than ever before have been enrolled in secondary schools in India but the nation is failing to teach them what they should be learning.
IndiaSpend reported on January 16, 2018 that ‘1 in every 10 and every 4 rural Indians aged 14-18 years could not read a class I and class II text in their own language (meant for children aged 5-7 years)’.
It comes as a shock that Indian school examinations focus on specific rote-learnt knowledge and actively discourage higher-order skills. Some materials are even worse than that of Nigeria and Uganda. The education budget has fallen from 1% of the country’s income in the government’s first budget in 2014-15 to 0.62% in 2017-18.
An analysis by New Delhi-based think tank, Centre for Policy Research (CPR) shows that allocation to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, as a share of total allocation was 33% in 2015-16, 31% in 2016-17 and 29% in 2017-18.