In the Indian Constitution the fundamental fights are guaranteed to protect the basic human rights of all citizens of India. One such fundamental right is the Right to Equality. In our society all individuals have equal rights to opportunities for growth and to achieve their maximum potential.

According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, ‘Democracy only provides that all men should have equal opportunities for the development of their unequal talents.’

With respect to equality of opportunities the Education Commission 1964-66, has observed that, ‘One of the important social objectives for 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. Every society that values social justice and is anxious to improve the lot of the common man and cultivate all available talent must ensure progressive equality of opportunity to all sections of the population. This is the only guarantee for the building up of an egalitarian and human society by which the exploitation of the weak will be minimized.’

Education is an important means to achieve growth and progress in life. It is the vehicle that can deliver many marginalized groups of our society from poverty and backwardness and bring them into the mainstream of national life. If our nation has to truly progress then every individual in our country has to progress and it is education that offers them the chance to do so. It is essential that every individual has equal access to receive education.

But the ground reality is that in our country access to education is not equally available to all as there are large sections of our society who are deprived of an opportunity to receive education. For generations they have lived in the margins of our stratified society due to caste, poverty etc and continue to do so. Equality of educational opportunities is vital for catering to the needs of these disadvantaged groups of our society. In order to fulfill the ideals enshrined in our Constitution and attain the true potential of our nation every person in our country should have equal opportunities for getting education and realizing his maximum possible growth.


Need for Equality of Educational Opportunities

Equality of educational opportunities is essential for the following reasons:

  • To ensure that all individuals in our country have equal access to growth according to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • To provide justice to the marginalized and oppressed sections of our society and bring them to be equal participants in the national life.
  • For a nation to grow it needs the contributions of all competent human resources in the country and it is education that can bring about the development of human resources in the country.

Issues Related to Equality of Educational Opportunities

There are various issues due to which many sections of our society are denied equal access to educational opportunities. Some of the prominent factors include the following:

  • The backward classes have traditionally been at a disadvantage as far as equal rights are concerned. Due to exploitation, oppression and neglect for generations, they are deprived of equal access to education and have thus been kept at the outer edges of the circle of progress and development.
  • Poverty that is widely prevalent in our country is another reason that many sections of our society do not have equal opportunities to education as they do not have the means or resources to gain even basic education.
  • India is a vast country with many remote areas having hardly any facilities least of all schools or colleges. The people living in such places are denied equal opportunity to receive education due to lack of educational facilities.

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Measures for providing equality of educational opportunities

With the aim of providing equality of educational opportunities the following recommendations were provided by the Education Commission 1964-66:

  • Tuition fees at the primary stage should be abolished in all the schools as early as possible and preferably before the end of the Fourth Plan.
  • Lower secondary education should be made  free in all schools preferably before the end of the fifth plan.
  • For the next ten years the main efforts with regard to fees in higher secondary and university education should be to extend provisions of tuition free education to all needy and deserving students.
  • Free text books and writing materials should be provided at the primary stage.

There have been many efforts by the government to provide equality of educational opportunity to all the citizens. One such attempt was through the policy of protective discrimination. Reservations for backward classes have to a certain extent helped in uplifting these groups but reservation can be truly beneficial only when it is applied to those who are at the lowest levels of the social structure and if it is time bound.  A lot more effort at all levels needs to be put in so as to bring about complete equality of educational opportunity to all individuals. Education is the tool that can give shape to the future of our nation and when everybody has equal access to education then everybody has an equal chance in contributing to nation building.




Education: Philosophy, Sociology and Economics; Edited by Naseerali M.K.. Published in 2003 (1st Ed.) and 2014 (2nd Ed.)


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