Notes on the meaning and causes of Wastage and Stagnation in Education

Meaning of Wastage:

While clarifying the meaning of the word in education Hartog Committee remarked the following:

"By wastage we mean premature withdrawal of children from schools at any stage before completion of the primary courses".

This statement does not mean there is no wastage in the Secondary Course and Higher Course. Any student, who receives education at any stage, is expected to complete his education with the prescribed period. If one withdraws from the course before completion, then that individual or individuals are deemed to be wastage to the course.

In Primary Education, the main objective is the attainment of stable literary through five year schooling. If a child entering school leaves it or is withdrawn from school before completing class V, it leads to wastage in education. So wastage is premature withdrawal of children from schools. A rough and ready method to measure wastage is to compare diminution in enrolment from class to class in series of years.

Such students do not complete the study of their curriculum and consequently the time, money and energy expended on such students prove to be sheer wastage. Hence the most popular use of the word "Wastage" in education means the wastage of time, effort and money.

Meaning of Stagnation:

The students at every stage of education are expected to pass the examination after finishing the whole course. But it has been found that in general practice many students are not able to pass the examinations in one class or in more than one class within the prescribed period.

Thus, they fail and remain in the same class. These failed students repeat the same class and course whereas their other colleagues pass that class and study in the next upper class. This process has been called the process of stagnation. Thus by stagnation it is meant the stay of students in a particular class for more than one year.

So the word 'Stagnation' in education means the detention of a student in a class for more than one year on account of his unsatisfactory progress. The Hartog Committee reports, "By stagnation we mean the retention in a lower class of a child for a period of more than one year. Of course stagnation always means wastage".

Really it was the Hartog Committee (1929), which for the first time pointed out that the "massive wastage and stagnation are taking place in primary education. Primary Education is ineffective unless it at least produces literacy".

No child who has not completed primary course of at least 4 years will become permanently literate. The investigation conducted by Gokhale Institute showed that literacy could be obtained before it could lapse. That is because, pupils acquire stable literacy only after they complete at least class IV.

As in the case of primary education, the wastage and stagnation were also eating the vitals of the secondary education. The tremendous loss that is caused because of the problems of the wastage and stagnation will be clear by looking at the results of High School Final every year.

University education everywhere in the country is also not free from the ghost of wastage and stagnation. Probably, the problems of wastage and stagnation exist in a greater degree at this stage of education. It has been remarked that great 'wastage' of public money is taking place every year in the University Education.

What is more regrettable is the fact that there is some indifference towards the serious loss of public money. Also no less indifference is shown for the wastage of time, money and energy of the students, their parents or guardians and their ambitions and aspirations in life.

Causes of Wastage and Stagnation:

The causes of wastage and stagnation are of 3 categories: economic, educational and social.

Economic Causes:

Studies conducted on the subject show that 65% of wastage is due to poverty. According to Kothari Commission Report, "A child is sent to school between 6-9 years of age because at this age he is a nuisance at home than a help.

At the age of 9 or 10, the child becomes an economic asset, because he can work at home or earn something outside. This is especially true of girls who have to assist the over-worked mother at home. The child is withdrawn from the school and thus he becomes a wastage case".

Parents mostly involve their children in domestic work and this leaves no time to child for study. Financial handicap is responsible for wastage and stagnation. Out of poverty some parents utilize the service of their children to supplement earning.

In many cases poor parents find it almost impossible to lose the assistance of children. Poverty of Indian people is miserable that they find themselves unable to meet other expenses connected with the education even against the provision of free education of their children during harvest time; children cannot afford to go to school as they are required in the farm. Again, out of poverty children lack minimum diet and are unable to stay for long in schools.

Social Causes:

Class and caste distinctions prevail in India, the former in urban areas and the latter in rural areas. Especially in the case of girls custom of early marriages or betrothals stands a bar. There is an opposition to send grow-up girls to schools especially to the mixed schools without women teachers.

Muslim parents exhibit more of orthodox views about their girls. Even in the case of boys some parents due to caste restrictions do not want their children to mix with power caste boys and girls. Co­education of boys and girls in some places is looked with suspicion. And as there is no separate provision of education for girls, deprivation of girls from schools leads to much wastage.

Educational Causes:

Only educational causes are responsible for another 30% of wastage. Government of India admits this in the following words:

"The educational institutions being ill-equipped, poorly housed and with dull and depressing environment unfortunately could not exercise effective counter-acting influence".

Uncontrolled fresh admissions without consideration of age or time have no permanency. That is, admissions are made of under-aged and over-aged children. Again admissions are done throughout the year. So there is more of wastage and stagnation. That is because under-aged children lost interest in classes, whereas over-aged children remained away from school out of shame.

Lack of adequate accommodation, too much of over-crowding schools with high pupil-teacher ratio become the main causes of wastage and stagnation. Again, increased number of single-teacher schools, inefficient teaching, lack of teacher-pupil contact, frequent transfer of teachers and plural class-teaching disturbed the quality of instruction which ultimately cause much wastage and stagnation.

In short, dull and unattractive schools, incomplete schools, inefficient and poor quality of teachers, defective examinations, uninteresting curricula, lack of proper parental attitude, absence of school health services and school mid-day meals are responsible for much of wastage and stagnation in schools.

Miscellaneous Causes:

Sometimes children in schools suffer from diseases of serious kinds and they are withdrawn for a long period causing wastage. Death of one of the parents or both causes much hardship to children. Orphan children drop-out from school without completing education, and so the wastage.

Remedial Measures

Statistics indicate huge wastage at the Primary stage. Of every 100 pupils that enter class I only 40 reach class V and only 20 reach class VIII. So steps are required to be taken for fighting against such alarming wastage those 80 students out of every hundred leave school before they complete age of 14.

1. Stagnation and wastage can be reduced by concentrating on quantitative improvement by (a) Universal provisional and (b) Universal retention. Again attempts should be made for qualitative improvement of pupils.

2. Qualified teachers should be appointed to create better quality in the instructional programme to attract children.

3. Fresh admissions should be made at the beginning of the school session within two months from the date of commencement of school year. And it should not be done throughout the year.

4. As far as possible provision should be made for starting of Pre-Primary Schools to admit children below 6 years of age. So that it will be a sort of pre-registration and preparation of the pupils to get admitted in schools. It will avoid the enrolment of under-aged over-aged children.

5. The curriculum may be made modest, simple and interesting so that it can be implemented most efficiently.

6. Improvement, of the Professional competence of teachers may be made by providing training facilities, both pre-service and in-service. Necessary guide books for teachers and work books for students and other literature should also be provided.

7. Adequate and attractive school buildings should be provided. Necessary equipment and teaching aids should be supplied for making education more interesting and effective.

8. Teacher-pupil ratio may be maintained at such a level as to ensure adequate individual attention to be paid to each individual in every class particularly in class-I. As far as possible only trained and competent teachers should remain in charge of class I.

9. As master of policy it has been adopted that children from class-I may be liberally promoted to class-II and the like without any detention at any stage.

10. Provision of part-time schooling may be made for the benefit of children who cannot attend the school during regular hours on account of domestic and economic disabilities.

11. Effective supervision and inspection may be provided in schools.

12. Best possible use may be made of the existing resources, both human and material. The schools may be graded according to efficiency and standards. This will provide ground for qualitative improvement of schools, which ultimately will go to reduce wastage and stagnation.

13. Special provision should be made for educating the mentally retarded children by opening special institutions in each State or district level.

To reduce wastage and stagnation in a bigger way, pupils may be given nutritious diet by introduction of mid-day meals under the School Health Service Programme. Existing mid-day meals system should be carefully regulated.