At least a third of teenagers aged 15-19 have not gone past lower secondary: UNESCO
New Delhi, April 26:
With the Economic Survey 2012-13 highlighting its importance in new chapter titled ‘Seizing the Demographic Dividend’, skill development has become a hot topic.
However, people lacking basic education, acquired usually at primary and lower secondary schooling, find learning new skills required for decent jobs a difficult task, a report commissioned by the UNESCO has found.
The Education for All global monitoring report – Putting Education to Work – released on Friday, finds that at least a third of the teenagers between 15 and 19 in the country have not gone past lower secondary education and lack the skills needed for decent jobs. India makes up for a huge proportion of the 200 million youths across the world who have been found lacking in foundational skills.
Despite a law ensuring basic schooling for all children in India, the Right to Education Act, the country still has the fourth-highest number of children bereft of school education.
What is worse – enrolment in school does not ensure proper skill development. The study has found that 250 million children in primary school cannot read or write, regardless of whether or not they go to school.
And in India, fewer than five in 100 children crossed level two in mathematics during learning assessments done in 2009. With such disappointing numbers, our demographic dividend could well turn out to be a disaster as a large number of individuals may not be equipped to acquire better job skills.
Highlighting the pressing need for education, the study says that every dollar spent on an individual’s education yields $10-15 during the person’s lifetime.
Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of UNESCO, and its representative to India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, said, “There is much that India can be proud of as regards its remarkable achievements and ambition for training young people in skills for work. However, it should be noted that the overwhelming majority of urban youth have little training to acquire skills.”
He added that to ensure sustainable growth and to remove inequality, the country must give its youth a chance to learn basic skills such as reading and writing.
Tine Staermose, Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) in India, added that as one of the largest economies, the percentage of skilled workers in India with any vocational training has been estimated at around 10 per cent against the average 60-80 per cent in developed countries.
“The limited reach of skill development programmes not only affects the potential for socio-economic growth but also makes the transition from school to work more difficult for Indian youth,” she said.