According to the National Policy of Education (NPE), every child should receive education irrespective of caste, creed, religion, etc. But, there are gross educational inequalities in India. Inequalities of educational opportunities arise in various ways. Therefore, we shall discuss various factors that led to educational inequalities in India.

Educational Inequalities in India

The reasons for inequalities of education in India are as follows:

The poverty of a Large Section

One significant cause of inequality of educational opportunities is the poverty of a large section of the population and the relative affluence of a small minority.

Children from poor families do not have easy access to educational institutions of comparable quality. As a result, they are denied quality education. They do not get the minimum physical facilities and this affects their success and progress.

Moreover, there are glaring imbalances in educational development in different parts of the country. Wide differences are found in the educational development in the different states and even between the districts.

Educational Development in Urban Areas

Most of the educational development is concentrated in the urban areas whereas the rural areas receive less attention. Students of urban areas get the opportunity to receive education in well-equipped schools and colleges. Rural areas are provided with inferior and ill-equipped schools and colleges where the educational standard is far from satisfactory. In fact, most of the rural areas do not even have a secondary school.

Inequalities in Home Environment

Gross inequalities arise from differences in home environments. A child from a rural household or an urban slum having illiterate parents does not get the same opportunity which a child from an upper-class home with high qualification parents gets. Moreover, poor parents would prefer to send their children to work and add to the family income, instead of sending them to school.

The Disparity between Boys and Girls

Another form of educational inequality is the wide disparity between the education of boys and girls at all stages and in all sectors of education. Thus, parents who are poor and illiterate would prefer to send their sons to school and not the girl child.

The Disparity between Advanced and Backward Classes

A wider disparity of educational development exists between the advanced classes and the backward ones like the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled tribes and also the disabled and handicapped.

From the above points, some of the causes or obstacles of inequality in respect of educational opportunity can be summed up as follows:

  1. Absence of a national system of education.
  2. Regional imbalances with regards to educational development and provision.
  3. Poverty, illiteracy, and also ignorance of parents
  4. Apathy on the part of the parents to send their girl child to school.
  5. Also, disparity or differences in the home environments.
  6. Socio-economic background of the family.
  7. The disparity of educational development between the advanced and backward classes.
  8. Lack of adequate infrastructural facilities.
  9. Also, lack of adequate finance.
  10. Lack of adequate supervision and monitoring.
  11. Disparities in the educational development in the rural and urban areas.
  12. Further, lack of awareness among the parents.
  13. Early marriage especially in the case of girls.

Steps to Remove Educational Inequalities in India

The steps that can be taken for equalizing educational opportunities are:

  1. Nationalization of the system of education. State control of education is necessary to provide equal opportunity of an education. There should be uniform educational facilities for all.
  2. Introduction of a common school system of public education. Common school system indicates four things: (A) All schools should be open to all, (B)Education should depend on the talent of the child, (C) There should be no tuition fee for education in public educational institutions and, (D) The educational standard in all categories of institutions should be adequate and uniform.
  3. Also, regional imbalances in respect of educational opportunities should be abolished.
  4. The disparity in respect of educational facilities in urban and rural areas should be minimized. Admission should be based on talent and not on wealth. Educational standards in urban and rural schools should be uniform.
  5. Adequate attention to the education of girls should be given at all stages and in all sectors.
  6. A special arrangement should be made for the education of the minorities, handicapped, the backward classes, and other disadvantaged groups.
  7. There should be adequate infrastructural facilities at schools. The program of scholarship for poor and meritorious students should receive emphasis.
  8. Free and compulsory education should be provided to all children in the age group of 6-14 years, that is, the constitutional obligation of ‘Free and compulsory ‘education should be realized. The National Policy on Education 1968 gave the following suggestions for equalization of educational opportunities. There should be strenuous efforts to equalize educational opportunities:
  9. Regional imbalances in the provision of educational facilities should be corrected and good educational facilities should be provided in rural and other backward areas.
  10. To promote social cohesion and national integration in the ‘Common School System’ as recommended by the Education Commission should be adopted. Efforts should be made to improve the standard of education in general schools. All special schools like Public Schools should be required to admit students on the basis of merit and also to provide a prescribed proportion of free studentships to prevent segregation of social classes. However, this will not affect the right of minorities under Article 30 of the Constitution.
  11. The education of girls should receive emphasis not only on grounds of social justice but also because it accelerates social transformation.
  12. More intensive efforts are needed to develop education among the backward classes and especially among the tribal people.
  13. Educational facilities for the physically and mentally handicapped children should be expanded and also attempts should be made to develop integrated programs enabling the handicapped children to study in regular schools.


Though there are various causes for educational inequalities in India, yet the Constitution of India guarantees equal educational opportunities to all citizens of the country.

India is a democratic country. An individual is the basis of democracy. Hence, every individual should get equal and suitable opportunity to cultivate his talent and receive education according to his needs, abilities, and aptitudes.

Therefore, equalization of educational opportunities is necessary for a democratic country to ensure the enrichment of democratic values to promote social justice, to cultivate all available talent, to minimize the educational gap between the privileged and the underprivileged, to promote national integration, and also for rapid social development and economic progress.

Equalization of educational opportunities is the basis for the building up of an egalitarian society and for the proper functioning of the democratic order. In fact, for the development of individuality, equalization of educational opportunities is a must. Inequality in respect of educational opportunities leads to social segregation and discord.

A complete Guide Book of
B.A. Education Part – II
(Philosophical and Sociological Foundations of Education)
Mani Bordoloi, M.A., B.Ed.

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