Even as crores of people have been earning a living out of farm jobs since ages in India, these jobs led to a significant inequality in rural education in the country. Parents with non-farm jobs in rural India were able to impart better education to their children in comparison to those with farm jobs. Father’s education and non-farm occupations were complementary in determining the son’s schooling in rural India, according to a research report published by the World Bank. In the trend analysis of rural India during the late 90s, it said that schooling was significantly higher for the sons born into non-farm households in rural India and structural change from agriculture to the non-farm sector contributed to educational inequality.
The World Bank has cited two broad reasons that may have contributed to higher investment in education by parents in non-farm occupations. It listed out that higher income from non-farm occupations may relax credit constraints on investment in schooling and the probability of a child getting a non-farm job may be higher when the parents themselves are employed in non-farm occupations because of networks, referral, and role model effects. It further said that this would increase the optimal investment when returns to education are higher in non-farm occupations.
The income inequalities in villages in various developing countries have also been attributed to the structural change in favour of non-farm occupations. However, China, which had almost the same amount of rural population as India, did not experience the disparity in education based on the parents’ occupations, the report added.
Meanwhile, as globalisation, privatisation, and liberalisation came into existence in India in the , the landscape of private companies widened and more people migrated from farm jobs to non-farm jobs, raising their disposable income and ability to impart better education to their kids. The literacy rate in rural India was a mere 36 per cent during 1991, which shot up to over 67 per cent in 2011, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI). While the situation of education is constantly improving in India, the growth in rural India is far ahead than the urban counterpart. While the literacy rate in urban India improved 5 per cent in the decade ending 2011, it improved by 14 per cent in rural India.