Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday informed that at least 15 crore children and youths are out of the country's formal education system. About 25 crore population is below the primary definition of literacy, he added.
"If we take into account the numbers of children and youths between the age of 3-22 years who are enrolled in government, private and charitable schools, anganwadis, Higher Education Institutions and in the entire skilling ecosystem, the cumulative figure from all the verticals is around 35 crore while (the country's) population in the particular age group is around 50 crore," Pradhan said. The Minister was addressing a session on "Job creation and entrepreneurship" organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
"This means that at least 15 crore children and youth are out of the formal education system. We want to bring them into the education system as it is necessary to ensure a productive workforce in the economy" he added.
In the census conducted soon after independence, the literate population was a mere 19 per cent, Pradhan noted. "After 75 years of independence day, the statistics of literate population has reached 80 per cent. Which means 20 per cent population or roughly around 25 crore are still below the primary definition of literacy," he said.
Regarding the National Education Policy 2020, Pradhan noted that it is not just a document but a roadmap for the coming 25 years. He said it aims to complete "certain targets" by the time we complete 100 years of independence. He added that the government has combined education and skill department to create a new approach for good livelihoods.
Regarding the shift to virtual classrooms since the onset of the pandemic, he added that a vibrant digital ecosystem in education would expand learning opportunities and spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the education sector. Though both educational institutions and skill development centres were affected during the pandemic, the government has ensured continuity in education by developing digital content on a large scale, he said.
Furthermore, villages will be connected with high-speed internet in the near future. These mass-scale digitisation efforts are creating new education, skilling, and entrepreneurial ecosystems, he said. "Teachers play an important role in building society and technology is reshaping society. With the greater advent of technology and changing society, our teachers need to be re-skilled and up-skilled," he added.