The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 25 January as International Education Day which marks a celebration of the role of education for world peace and development. 

Origin and Significance of International Day of Education:

According to UNESCO, “Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.” 

Here are some harrowing facts when it comes to world education:

  • 258 million children and youth are deprived of education and are not able to attend school. 
  • 617 million children cannot read and do simple mathematics. 
  • In the sub-Saharan region of Africa, less than 40% of girls complete lower secondary school. 
  • 4 million children and youth refugees are ejected from school and have their right to get educated violated. 

To combat these issues, the International Day of Education is celebrated which is a reminder that still a lot is to be done for the education of millions of people across the world. In 2021, the 3rd ever International Day of Education will be celebrated under a new theme. This year’s theme for Day of Education is ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for COVID-19 Generation’.  On its website, UNESCO HAS stated that ‘now is the time to power education by stepping up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery.’ 

The theme comes after the 2020 COVID-19 crisis which resulted in severe global learning issues and school closures. According to UNESCO, the education of 1.6 billion learners in over 190 countries was affected due to the pandemic. This was due to a complete closure of schools and universities which resulted in the loss of learning and dropouts from education institutes.  

The third International Day of Education will be celebrated with the aim to:

  • Create actions that will ensure educational recovery and increase in inclusion. 
  • Celebrate the initiatives led by governments, educating institutes and organizations to reignite education across the diaspora.  
  • Form partnerships with new collaborators to create a more resilient education ecosystem. 
  • Give voice to the COVID-19 generation so that they can express their problems and aspirations in face of a future recession, pandemic or climate change.  
  • Recommend increased financing and best practices in education funding that could consequently help the disadvantaged and marginalized.   

The event for this day is planned long three important pillars: learning heroes, innovations and financing. The event will be organized at the UNESCO New York Office in partnership with UHNQ and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CRI). The day will mark the participation of all the partners from the Global Education Coalition that will celebrate education and share innovations.  

But how does the Indian education system fare against its counterparts? What have been significant improvements in the education sector for learners and educators in India? Let’s find out: 

Indian Education: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


The Indian education system, The Good: 

  • The gender gap in the context of literacy rate began to narrow in 1991 and its pace has accelerated in the past two decades. 
  • During 2001-11 rate of male literacy increased by 6% and the female literacy rate increased by 12%. Bihar’s achievement in female literacy remains astounding, from 33% in 2001 to 53% in 2011. 
  • The Indian government has launched Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign to create awareness and improve women’s welfare and education services in India.  
  • According to Economic Survey 2018-19, the campaign was a success and caused an increase in the Gender equality rate.  
  • Thanks to the campaign, the gender parity index has also substantially improved at the primary and secondary levels of education.  
  • India’s literacy rate although is sluggish but its decadal literacy growth has been at 9.2%. 

The Indian education system, The Bad:

  • According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring report from 2016, India will achieve universal primary education in 2050. India will be 50 years late in achieving its global education goal.  
  • India is still lagging behind the world literacy rate that is 86.3%. Currently, the major group of India’s states lie in the average rank that is just above 64.5%. 
  • Half of India’s population that is bottom on the socio-political hierarchy is at the bottom with illiterate masses or achieving only primary education. 
  • Meanwhile, there is a segment on the upper echelon of the hierarchy that ends up with tertiary education (post-secondary education).

The Indian education system, The Ugly:

  • Although India is one of the largest economies in the world, the country’s education spending doesn’t touch the average amount spent by the rich countries. 
  • In OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries 11% of the government spending went into education. India however spends only 10.2% on education.  
  • India is still far behind nations such as Mexico, Korea, Israel, Chile, etc in terms of total educational spending. 
  • India is only ahead of four other countries in attracting top talent across the world. According to IMD, India is ranked 62nd in its total public expenditure on students per student which results in failure in nurturing indigenous talent.  

Need of the hour: 4 Important Changes Indian Education System Needs:

1. Goodbye rote learning, hello conceptual learning 

Most people reading this would know how rote learning can eventually curiosity a learner might have. Rote learning, also known as memorization by reputation is the traditional form of learning where a student is made to learn a certain concept not through practical understanding, but by memorizing it.  

Although there have been significant changes in Indian education and CBSE and IB schools are trying what they can in implementing conceptual learning, it needs to be implemented at the grass-root level.  

2. Evaluation System Overhaul 

“Kitne marks aaye?” is a statement that continues to haunt Indian students. Garnering marks through traditional exams and tests still remain the only evaluation method in schools across India. While it is an important method to assess a student’s learning, there are other factors that ought to be included. Instead of focusing on what a student can come up with in 3-hours, the evaluation should also include factors such as classroom participation, leadership skills, innovation, and analytical thinking, etc.  

This will lead to students not being pressurized into just scoring, and will help them focus on other aspects of their learning. Another benefit of this change would be a dearth in the number of suicide attempts students make because they underperformed.   

3. Equal Attention and Respect to all subjects 

Indian students over the past 3 decades have been forced to study in a hierarchical system. Although masses have warmed up to the idea that each subject comes with its perils and advantages, science is a subject that topples the entire stream hierarchy. Hundreds of thousands of students each year are forced to take science and pursue engineering or medical background. Their interest, skills, and passion sometimes take a backseat, and eventually, they become part of a machinery of undervalued and underperforming unemployed youth.  

Students should be given an environment where they can acknowledge and appreciate each major subject, and then gravitate towards them according to their skillset and interest.  

4. Effective Government Spending  

 As discussed above, India’s public education spending has to increase to attract foreign talent or for the country to develop innovative brains. India only spends about 4% of its GDP which is lower than most middle-income countries across the world.  According to a World Bank’s study for 2019, India’s efficacy rate was 97%. This means that 13% of the entire education spending had no impact on people’s access to education. This is much lower than other developed countries that score 97% as efficacy rate.