- Posted February 25, 2014 by
Leveraging the Demographic Dividend and Building a Knowledge Economy
India is amongst one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. It has a population that exceeds over 1.2 billion people. The majority of people in this population are young people who comprise a major part of the population. It has been estimated that by 2012, India will be having one of the largest reserve of young population with the average native being 29 years old. This gives India a competitive advantage over other nations of the world whose population is aging with time.
With such a huge resource at the disposal, there come a lot of challenges and responsibilities for the government in order to manage them. Providing for the basic necessities of this population is definitely a challenging task for the government. Amongst these basic necessities, education is a matter of prime concern for the government and the people of the country too.
India is a country where a larger chunk of the society is living below the poverty line. They do not have enough resources to meet their daily needs. They live from hand to mouth. For such a poverty struck majority, education is a luxury for the poor which they cannot afford. Poverty is depriving children to attend schools.
Dream of India:
Not too long ago, India had seen a dream that it could emerge as another superpower of the world by progressing and making its place in the highly developed nations of the world. India has the true potential to fulfill this dream because it van bank on the biggest resource that it possess, which the human resource. This resource is incomparable to any other resource. It has been highlighted by many politicians that they aim to achieve “a demographic dividend and build a knowledge economy”
Demographic Dividend and Knowledge Economy:
India is a huge country with people of different ethnicity, race, background, religion, castes, beliefs and social statuses. There is little consensus or coherence in terms of similarities in the nation. It is not just their beliefs that vary drastically but also their social setups. There are extremes in the county. There are people who are extremely rich and on the other side, there are people who are extremely poor and are living below the poverty line. Within a country, that is so scattered and divided I terms of their living standards that government faces many perils in developing and providing for the equal accessibility of basic necessities for all.
The government wishes to bring equality within this widely dispersed country by providing equal means to demographically scattered people. There biggest hope in this attempt is to develop a knowledge economy. Knowledge economy is one that provides equal opportunity to all the inhabitants of the country at a fair chance to attain education. This means making education accessible to all people. For this purpose there needs to be the development of educational infrastructure in the country and there is a dire of adopting newer modes of making education accessible far and wide.
The True Picture:
Despite the tall claims made by the government to develop a knowledge economy in which everyone would be literate and knowledgeable, the attempts and statistics do not represent a rosy picture. The very base of building a knowledge economy is dependent on the fact that the country should have a strong and sound education system but we can observe deepening crisis in India’s education system.
According to UNESCO’s 11th Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 90% of children from poor families still remain illiterate despite attending and completing four years of education.
Around 30% of children remain illiterate despite attending and completing five to six years of school.
Despite the government’s effort to make elementary education free and compulsory, it has managed to improve the enrollment of children in school but it has miserably failed in implementing the element of quality in education.
The quality of learning is declining in Indian schools because emphasis is placed on enrolling children and not on imparting them with actual knowledge and empowering them with the basic enlightening purpose of education.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report 2013, there has been a drastic spurt and growth in the number of private schools across the country.
The government releases many funds for the improvement of education but a larger part of it is spend on capital cost and salaries of teachers and not on improving the quality of education.
The situation is equally bad for the higher education system.
According to the National Skill Report 2014, only 34% of Indian graduates are employable. Rests of them are just adding to the burden of the economy.
This is not the first warning for the government. They have been highlighted with the issue before as well but not many efforts have been done to improve the condition. It is high time that the government realizes its responsibility and makes persistent efforts towards developing a knowledge economy and leveraging the demographic dividend.