Published On: Tue, Jul 5th, 2011

Amartya Sen criticizes neglect of elementary education

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Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said that India needs to broaden its base in the spheres of education in order to foster economic growth. He was speaking at a function where he was awarded honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the National University of Educational Planning and Administration.

“India does have many achievements in the success of a relatively small group of privileged people well trained in higher education and specialised expertise. Yet our educational system remains deeply unjust. Among other bad consequences, the low coverage and low quality of school education in India extracts a heavy price in the pattern of our economic development,” he said.

Sen also criticized the neglect of  elementary education since early Independence. He mentioned that though India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for technical education resulted in a boom that has ensured institutes of excellence like the IITs, his attitude towards primary education is “lamentable”. He pointed out that while huge budgetary allocations were made for the technical education, the same did not applied to the primary education then.

Prof. Sen regretted that primary education had insufficient coverage; there was a huge number of out-of-school children and the quality of education was low. “India needs to widen its education base radically,” he said.

He also pointed out that India’s general labour force is far less educated than countries like China. “India has great difficulty in competing in a whole range of simple products, the making of which requires basic education including elementary gadgets such as clocks and calculators, even computer hardware, in which China excels, and which were among the mainstays of the earlier ‘East Asian Miracle’,” he said.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who conferred the degree on Prof. Sen, said the government was committed to giving access, equipment and quality education to students.

[Source: The Hindu]