In all the developed economies, education has been fundamental in bringing change. In India as well the success stories in IT, BPO, Pharma or high-end research can be attributed to the legacy of quality education,
although to a miniscule section of the society. But for the 100 million children who are either out of school or working as child labour or begging as street children, development has become a chimera. Even for those that are willing to educate their child, lack of quality education has been a crisis in itself. A recent AC Neilson Survey showed that many poor parents are indeed shelling out money to send their children to private schools rather than to the dilapidated government schools.
Though the universal primary education gets the so-called state support under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, the situation has been of concern in the secondary and higher education sector. Statistically, while about 114 million students get enrolled at the primary level, the number reduces to 30.5 million at the higher secondary level exhibiting high dropout rates. While secondary education has suffered due to the lack of quality infrastructure, the higher education remains mired in controversies related to quota and politicisation.
The UNDP's Human Development Report vindicates that education is not only the mean but also the end in itself for the cause of development. India then needs to spend more than 6% of GDP(currently at 3.3%) on education, the maximum of which should flow towards creating quality infrastructure and atmosphere of learning (and not in salaries, perks and emoluments for the bureaucracy).