If you thought that engineering and management were the two hottest educational pursuits for Indians, think again. According to a recent National Sample Survey Organisation report, only 5% of students in the country are engaged in technical or professional education, or studying subjects like engineering and management.
The rest are in general education, like humanities (B.A., M.A. etc), commerce (B.Com. etc) and science (B.Sc. etc).
At a time when the Narendra Modi government is pushing for 'Skill India', this data presents a big challenge.
The survey was conducted between January-June 2014, and covered around 4,577 villages. It excluded "art, music and similar type of courses conducted by individuals in their houses or unrecognised/unaffiliated institutions, classes taken by private tutors, education in nursery/kindergarten/preparatory levels".
Here are some of the key figures to emerge from the survey:
There are two main challenges in front of skill education. First, access (most of these institutes are located in southern India) and quality, poor infrastructure and sub-standard curriculum; and second, lack of industry and job links.
For females in this age group, one in three (or 33%) in rural areas and 23% in urban areas drop out due to domestic work.
In comparison, it takes Rs 10,623 per annum at private, unaided institutions in India - or Rs 885 per month.
At the upper primary level, the annual cost for government education is Rs 1,869 and Rs 13,808 for private education.
In urban areas, only 16% are illiterate, and 18% are graduates or more.
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At the secondary and higher secondary levels, 40% students from rural areas get free education, while only 22% do so in urban areas.
In contrast, only about 1-2% of students in private institutions receive free education at primary and upper primary levels.
Funds for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, which provides cooked meals to nearly 10 crore children in more than 11 lakh schools annually, was also reduced by 30% in 2015.