On average, each additional year of education a child receives, increases his or her adult earnings by about 10 per cent. And for each additional year of schooling completed, on average, by young adults in a country, that country’s poverty rates fall by nine per cent.
Education is considered to be a fundamental human right. The ease of access to education helps people develop skills, capabilities, and the self-reliance to avail of other rights. In 2009, the government of India passed a progressive piece of legislation – the Right to Education (RTE) Act – that is aimed at taking education to the masses, and filling the gaps in the system. Around the world, only a few countries have implemented national, large-scale initiatives that ensure child education and development.
However, after the release of the State of the World’s Children, UNICEF annual flagship report, all the commitments thus made to ensure that every child in the world should have completed primary school education by 2015 seems to be a fail. During the ceremony of report releasing, participation of senior officials of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, other central ministries, academics, and civil society activists was witnessed.
The year 2030 has been set the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As per the latest reports released by UNICEF, if current trends continued across the globe, 69 million children under age five will die from mostly preventable causes, 167 million children will live in poverty, and 750 million women will have been married as children by 2030.
Taking India into consideration, the report laid emphasis over the Education. India has achieved much, particularly in ensuring children’s access to school through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and implementation of the Right to Education Act. The number of out-of-school children between 6 to 13 years has come down from approximately eight million in 2009 to six million in 2014. Yet challenges continue!!
In India, the highest percentage of children not attending pre-school education is from the Muslim community (34 per cent), followed by Hindus at 25.9 per cent. Also, out of the 74 million children between 3-6 years, about 20 million were not attending any preschool education in 2014, and it is the children from the poorest families and marginalized communities who are often left behind.
The report pointed to the evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits. We have a choice: To invest in these children now or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided.
The latest UNICEF report on education only affirms further that India desperately needs education reforms from the current government.