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Reality:32 Million Indian children have never attended school

Reality:32 Million Indian children have never attended school

-Prachi Agarwal

Many of us believe in education for all. In India, while more than 95 percent of children attend primary school, just 40 percent of Indian adolescents attend secondary school (Grades 9-12). Since 2000, the World Bank has committed over $2 billion to education in India.

Education is pivotal for every child growing up but especially for youth who are not given equal opportunities in life. Youth should not be denied an education because of financial restrictions, we should believe it to be a right. It is also essential for youth in creating opportunities for themselves, staying away from illegal activities, and providing for their families.

In the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) assessment in the year 2015, UNDP stated that India has made significant progress in generalizing primary education, and is on track to achieve its goal. Enrolment of girls in primary school has improved and is matching up with those of boys. At the national level, the male and female youth literacy rate is likely to be at 94.8% and 92.4%. However, UNDP cautions about the large numbers of children still out of school and failing to complete primary education. This is particularly the case of girls; children living in rural areas and; children from marginalized and minor communities. 

The debates over whether there should be a rise in the reservation of seats for underprivileged children, what sort of education they should receive, the number of institutions required, and even to what kind of teachers will be deemed suitable.


According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report, 32 million Indian children of age up to 13 years have never attended any school, the majority of them belonging to the socially disadvantaged class (2014).In the 2011 Census, about 73% of the population was literate, with 81% for males and 65% for females. National Statistical Commission surveyed literacy to be 77.7% in 2017–18, 84.7% for males,s and 70.3% for females.

The National Sample Survey had estimated that three out of four children currently out of school in India are either Dalit (32.4%), Muslim (25.7%), or Adivasi (16.6%).In real terms, the numbers were Dalit (2 million), Muslim (1.5 million), or Adivasi (1 million). 

The Census 2011 data shows that the exact numbers are much higher, but also suggests that while Adivasi and Dalit children are certainly less likely to be attending an educational institution, the difference with the national average may not be as much as it was in 2001, as shown below in the graph.

There are fears that the originality in terms of children not attending schools can be much worse than what the generally discussed statistics tell.

Vimala Ramachandran, the National Fellow at National University for Educational Planning and Administration, observed that enrollment data, particularly from schools and the education department, is often unreliable since they tend to over-report. According to her, these numbers must be complemented by data on dropouts and on those who have never attended school. 

There is a considerable gap between policy and practice, and this can be fulfilled by restructuring the educational system.

There is no doubt that the government is trying hard to overcome this problem by launching several schemes that are instituted to ensure that underprivileged children receive a solid educational base including ‘Samagra Shiksha’ and ‘Strengthening for Providing Quality Education in Madrassas’ (SPQEM).

The Right to Education guarantees free and quality education to all children aged between 6 and 14, and besides that incentives like Mid-Day Meal, scholarships, and even reservations in private schools are designed to encourage maximum enrolment of students from underprivileged backgrounds.

But according to me, this is not an effective as well as a long-term solution.

We Indians will be able to educate India only when we collaborate for the collective responsibility towards children of India.

1.Spread awareness across different stakeholders

As aware and responsible citizens of the country, we need to ensure that businesses are sensitized towards the harms of child labor and they refrain from hiring children for work which will, in turn, discourage parents and children to choose money over education. The need of the hour is to make communities aware of their rights and proud of child’s education. Educated communities will not just create better citizens but also ensure better employment and enterprise.

2.Importance of girl child education

When it comes to education, girls lag behind boys significantly. This situation arises due to the patriarchal mindset of a lot of families in India. Girls are often viewed as future housewives and family caretakers. They are often deprived higher education and in some cases even school education. Being educated gives an equal opportunity to women to be skilled workers who use their learning as a boon that will help better the future of their families and their communities. 


Government collaboration with NGOs in the educational sector can make a significant impact in India.

Organizations that work for the socio-economic development of the underprivileged must be recognized and fuelled with appropriate funds to optimize their endeavors.

NGOs need the support of government bodies, corporations, and most importantly, individuals. Along with support from the common individual, it is heartening to see hard-earned donations and a sense of public concern power an NGO’s influence and reach across India To play your part give something that really makes a difference in their life. Give them another day at school. 

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