What is Equality of Educational Opportunity?
One of the stark realities of human society is inequality or what the sociologists call social stratification. It has been existing in some form or other in all societies. In India inequality of educational opportunities is a reality that has been existing for generations.
Equality of Education as per Indian Constitution –
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution emphasizes equality of status and of opportunity.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution provides for equality before law.
Article-15 provides: The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them. It also provides that the State can make special provisions for the advancement of women, children, SC and ST. In spite of all this inequality still exists
Need/Importance of Equalization of Educational Opportunities
The Education Commission (1964-66) has observed: “One of the important social objectives of education is to equalize opportunity, enabling the backward or underprivileged classes and individuals to use education as a lever for the improvement of their condition.
Observations of Kothari Commission indicates the need or importance of equality in education and equalization of educational opportunities as follows:
(i) It is needed for the establishment of an egalitarian society
(ii) It is needed for the success of democracy
(iii) It is needed to ensure social and economic development of our country
(iv) It is needed to identify the talents in various fields
(v) It is needed to develop human resources and to meet the man power needs of our country
(vi) It is needed to promote social justice
(vii) It is needed to minimize the educational gap between the privileged and the underprivileged
Causes of Inequality in respect of Educational Opportunities
A large number of factors are responsible for inequality in respect of educational opportunities
Some of the notable causes of educational inequality are as follows:
(i) Absence of a National System of Education: At present our education system has not been nationalized. Absence of a national system of education is the greatest obstacle in the way of equality in education and equality of educational opportunities
(ii) Regional Imbalance: There are regional imbalances in educational opportunities in different States, different districts and blocks
(iii) Poverty of Parents: Poverty of parents is a major cause of inequality of educational opportunities. Children from poor families fail to attend educational institutions where education and training is expensive
(iv) Differential Standard of Educational Institutions: Children from poor families receive education in substandard institutions which are not properly equipped with teachers, teaching aids and apparatus. Differences in the standard of educational institutions ultimately cause inequality in the standard of students
(v) Differences in the Home Environment: Inequality also arises from differences in the home environment of children. In most cases parents are illiterate and their children arc first generation learners. These children do not get the needed encouragement, help and academic support from parents. On the contrary children from educated families get all the support and encouragement from their parents for their education. This causes inequality among children and affect equality in education
(vi) Gender Disparity: Another cause of educational inequality is the wide disparity between the education of boys and girls at all stages and in all areas of education. Usually parents value more and take care of education of their sons, while the girl child in the family is neglected and a it is a major hurdle in equality in education of girls.
(vii) Disparity between the Advantaged and the Disadvantaged: Disparity between the upper class and the lower class of the society has always been a crucial issue. In the sphere of education also disparity exists between the advantaged community or the upper class and the disadvantaged community or the lower class