Rural students spend more on books, stationery, uniform over urban counterparts


New Delhi:  Expenses of a student on books, stationery and uniform in rural India on an average are over 10 percentage points higher than those in urban areas, although participation in education system has seen improvement at all levels, according to the Economic Survey.

As per the Economic Survey 2019-20 tabled in the Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the absence of suitable financial support system and high burden of course fee, especially in higher education, pushes the poor and underprivileged out of the education system.

Citing data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) report on ‘Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India 2017-18’, the survey said that in 2017-18, there were about 13.6 per cent persons of age 3 to 35 years who were never enrolled in the education system.

“The reasons they cite for not enrolling were ‘not interested in education’ and ‘financial constraints’,” it said.

Among those who were enrolled, drop-out rate was as high as 10 per cent at primary level, 17.5 per cent at upper primary/middle, and 19.8 per cent at secondary level, the survey added.

Highlighting the challenges for ‘Education for All’ initiative, the survey said the composition of various components of expenditure on education indicates that the course fees, which is 50.8 per cent at all India level, among others contributes about half of the average expenditure of a basic course.

Course fees include tuition, examination, developmental fees and other compulsory payments.

The proportion of course fee is also high in rural and urban areas, it added.

“The second largest component of average expenditure on education by student is books, stationery and uniform where an average student in the rural areas is surprisingly spending more than 10 percentage points as compared to urban areas,” the survey said.

It also pointed out that students pursuing education in private aided institutions are spending significantly higher as compared to government institutions across rural-urban India.

Quoting the NSS report, the survey said in 2017-18, the average expenditure of an average student in government institutions pursuing secondary education was Rs 4,078 whereas the same for a student in private aided institution was Rs 12,487.

When it comes to graduation, the expenditure for an average student in government institutions was at Rs 10,501, while in private aided institutions it was Rs 16,769.

The survey said “due to absence of competition in government schools/institutions, quality of education in government schools/institutions is low. As a result, more and more students prefer to enrol themselves in private institutions”.

It cited initiatives such as Samagra Shiksha started in 2018-19, which subsumes three erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE), as steps taken to provide quality education in government schools and institutions in an affordable and competitive manner.



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