Since we achieved independence in 1947, our national leaders attached importance to education. There has been steady effort to spread education to all levels of Indian society.
To strengthen the Indian Education System, an educational policy was adopted by the Indian Parliament in 1968. Education was made an important and integral part of the national development efforts.
Our Government assumed full responsibility for the proper education of the children and adults. Hence, right to primary education or elementary education is now a fundamental right in India.
Primary education system
At the time of our Independence, majority of the children were deprived of the benefits of primary education. Since then, India has made good progress in the field of primary education.
Statistics point to the fact that a large percentage of children in age group 6-11 years have been enrolled in school. At some places, the enrollment rate is 90 percent.
However, it is proving very difficult to bring the remaining into the ambit of universal primary education is because of reasons such as:
- some live in inaccessible areas,
- lack of parent’s interest to send their children to school,
- there is a deep-rooted prejudice against educating girls,
- there are practical difficulties of distance and inaccessibility of schools.
Other difficulties faces by the primary education sector are:
- The syllabus of our primary students is quite heavy. A little child of primary school has to read a large number of books.
- Many books were written in a way that doesn’t create interest in young minds.
- We have less teachers and professors that our needs.
Moreover, the dropout rate is so high that universal elementary education (UEE) is quite an elusive goal.
Also read on importance of Primary education and condition and status of Primary education in India.
Since, education is important for the growth of developing nation like India, various steps have been devised to cut the percentage of dropouts. Non-formal education – to offer educational facilities for the drop-outs and to fulfill the desire for additional education in the grown-up-drop-outs is being given a new orientation to make it purposeful and to attract a broad spectrum of the drop-out population.
In Indian Education system, adult education programmes covers the age group 1-35 and has been vigorously implemented by the government with the cooperation of many voluntary agencies. Even then much has to be done to realize the target which is 100% coverage adults. (Also read: Short article on Adult Education)
Secondary education system
Secondary education is the fulcrum or central point of a nation’s education system. With regard to the pattern of secondary education experiments have been going on since Independence. The 10+2+3 system of education which was recommended by Kothari Commission of 1965 is now being implemented in almost all the States and Union Territories of India. This system (pattern) provides for two streams – the higher secondary schools; the academic streams paving the way for higher education and the vocational stream of terminal nature. However, very few schools live been able to offer this terminal education. As a result, schools with academic streams still abound, thereby defeating the very purpose of reducing the acute competition for college education.
In many States education is free up to the lower secondary level, and in a few states education is free up to the higher secondary stage.
Higher education system
Higher education system in India is imparted through about 180 universities and neatly 4500 colleges. In addition there are several institutions imparting specialized knowledge and technical skills. Since education is a State subject. The State Governments in India are free to open new university. Grants Commission is an authority which dispenses grants to the universities. However, its formal sanction is not necessary to open a university. Taking advantage of this provision many State governments in India have opened a large number of universities in recent years.
The tremendous increase in the number of students and of educational institutions has given rise to the term ‘education explosion’. No doubt, this has resulted in serious problems such as inadequacy of financial resources and infrastructure and dilution of personal attention to the education and character-formation of the students. Also, there is the unwanted side-effect of enormous increase in the number of educated unemployed. However, we cannot overlook the advantages of education explosion in India. Mere increase in the percentage of literate people does not indicate a qualitative change in the educational standards of the people and a real improvement in manpower resources of India. Unemployment problem in India cannot be blamed on the availability of large masses educational people in India.
Also read: Article on Present Position of Higher Education in India
Medium of education
Uncertainty and vacillation have marked the government’s policy about the medium of education in India. Mahatma Gandhi wanted basic education to be imparted through the mother tongue. Our Constitution provides that facilities for primary education in mother tongue should be provided to all Indian citizens. For this purpose, the Central Government may issue directives to the State Governments. Thus, the requirements of linguistic minorities are attended properly. Even before Independence, most of the students in schools had their education through the regional language/mother tongue.
The government policy in respect of the medium of education has not changed. However, a significant increase in the number of schools – primary and secondary – imparting education through the English medium is a significant development. Thousands of nursery schools that have mushroomed since the last decade purport to impart education to infants through English.
We need to create a balance system of education. Education should be imparted through the Mother tongue and through English language as well. Studying in one’s mother language is very important. It develops a feeling of love and respect for his mother language. Since, most of the cultural and epic books are written in mother language, a person would be devoid of his own cultural richness if he is unable to read book written in his mother language.
On the other hand, English language is a globally accepted language for communication. Even in India, people of different states often communicate in English. English language bridges the language gap between people. Hence, we cannot afford to ignore the importance of English language.
Regarding the medium of instruction in colleges and universities, some State Governments have already decided, in principle, to switch over to the regional language. However the implementation in this respect has remained very slow. If regional languages are fully used for imparting college education, mobility from one region to another for the higher education in India will be seriously hampered. But continuing higher education through the English medium is disfavored by many politicians and some educationalists. The alternative of imparting college education through the Hindi medium throughout the country makes no sense. Thus, the Indian dilemma in respect of medium of education still continues.
There is a general feeling that the curricula adopted for different stages of education are substandard. This impression is not borne out by facts. The syllabus for irrelevant and various course in schools and colleges have been updated and upgraded. The NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) has set the right tone in this respect. Regarding recent changes in the curricula in schools and colleges, a mention may be made of the introduction of physical education and services like National Social Service (NSS) and National Cadet Crops (NCC) as part of the curriculum and of the inculcating of emotional national integration through teaching of Indian National Movement. Constant review of the syllabus and methods of teaching in the light of the innovations and methods adopted in advanced countries has certainly resulted in improved standards. This is not to say that the average standard of teaching and average proficiency of the students has improved a lot. The general educational standard has been diluted by decrease in the commitment of teachers and by the general decline in morality and standards of life. In many colleges and schools examination has become a farce and real assessment of the intellectual and other capabilities of the students is not done.
Work-oriented education system
Work-oriented education system was advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and others. However, vocational education system in India has proved an up-hill task. The present pattern of 10+2+3 with a vocational stream has touched only the fringe of the problem. The fact is that people resent being taught crafts and traditional occupations in the school. However, the modern commercial education which imparts skills in typing, shorthand, reception and the like has met with better popular approval and demand. The core of the issue is whether education and employment should be de-linked. Such de-linking will have the great ‘merit’ of reducing attraction for college education. But de-linking or jobs from degrees and certificates is fraught with unforeseen dangers. In any case employment can be provided only on the basis of certain qualifications. If the qualifications are not to be determined by the universities and other conventional examining bodies, the same work will have to be done by the recruiting agency or somebody else. Besides, the scheme of not prescribing the bare minimum educational requirement for posts will pave the way for gradual erosion of standards necessary for different posts. As pointed out earlier, education is not to be blamed for the widespread unemployment In India.
Also read: Vocational Education and Training (VET) in India
Correspondence education and establishment of “Open Universities”
In recent times new educational opportunities have been invented, one such being correspondence education system. Today almost every university in India is offering correspondence courses for different degrees and diplomas. In fact correspondence education has opened new vistas for the educational system which could not successfully meet the challenging problem of providing infrastructure for multitudes of new entrants into the portals of higher education. The public demand for higher education was initially met through evening colleges; now correspondence education has come to the rescue of the worried education administrators. The latest innovation of ‘open university’ has also been introduced in India in the form of Nagarjuna University at Hyderabad. An open university imparts education only through correspondence; and, in this respect, is to be differentiated from the regular universities which take up correspondence education in addition to the college education. Correspondence education provides an important means for drop-outs to improve their qualification and, for the employed the means to improve education and service prospects. In course of time the glamour for college education may decline if correspondence education is made very effective. The Indira Gandhi National Open University has been created at a national level.
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and ArticlesTagged With: Education System in India
The Education System in India
by Dr. V. Sasi Kumar (1)
In the Beginning
In ancient times, India had the Gurukula system of education in which anyone who wished to study went to a teacher's (Guru) house and requested to be taught. If accepted as a student by the guru, he would then stay at the guru's place and help in all activities at home. This not only created a strong tie between the teacher and the student, but also taught the student everything about running a house. The guru taught everything the child wanted to learn, from Sanskrit to the holy scriptures and from Mathematics to Metaphysics. The student stayed as long as she wished or until the guru felt that he had taught everything he could teach. All learning was closely linked to nature and to life, and not confined to memorizing some information.
The modern school system was brought to India, including the English language, originally by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s. The curriculum was confined to “modern” subjects such as science and mathematics, and subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were considered unnecessary. Teaching was confined to classrooms and the link with nature was broken, as also the close relationship between the teacher and the student.
The Uttar Pradesh (a state in India) Board of High School and Intermediate Education was the first Board set up in India in the year 1921 with jurisdiction over Rajputana, Central India and Gwalior. In 1929, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana, was established. Later, boards were established in some of the states. But eventually, in 1952, the constitution of the board was amended and it was renamed Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). All schools in Delhi and some other regions came under the Board. It was the function of the Board to decide on things like curriculum, textbooks and examination system for all schools affiliated to it. Today there are thousands of schools affiliated to the Board, both within India and in many other countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Universal and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6-14 was a cherished dream of the new government of the Republic of India. This is evident from the fact that it is incorporated as a directive policy in article 45 of the constitution. But this objective remains far away even more than half a century later. However, in the recent past, the government appears to have taken a serious note of this lapse and has made primary education a Fundamental Right of every Indian citizen. The pressures of economic growth and the acute scarcity of skilled and trained manpower must certainly have played a role to make the government take such a step. The expenditure by the Government of India on school education in recent years comes to around 3% of the GDP, which is recognized to be very low.
“In recent times, several major announcements were made for developing the poor state of affairs in education sector in India, the most notable ones being the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The announcements are; (a) To progressively increase expenditure on education to around 6 percent of GDP. (b) To support this increase in expenditure on education, and to increase the quality of education, there would be an imposition of an education cess over all central government taxes. (c) To ensure that no one is denied of education due to economic backwardness and poverty. (d) To make right to education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6–14 years. (e) To universalize education through its flagship programmes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Mid Day Meal.” Wikipedia: Education in India.
The School System
India is divided into 28 states and 7 so-called “Union Territories”. The states have their own elected governments while the Union Territories are ruled directly by the Government of India, with the President of India appointing an administrator for each Union Territory. As per the constitution of India, school education was originally a state subject —that is, the states had complete authority on deciding policies and implementing them. The role of the Government of India (GoI) was limited to coordination and deciding on the standards of higher education. This was changed with a constitutional amendment in 1976 so that education now comes in the so-called concurrent list. That is, school education policies and programmes are suggested at the national level by the GoI though the state governments have a lot of freedom in implementing programmes. Policies are announced at the national level periodically. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), set up in 1935, continues to play a lead role in the evolution and monitoring of educational policies and programmes.
There is a national organization that plays a key role in developing policies and programmes, called the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) that prepares a National Curriculum Framework. Each state has its counterpart called the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT). These are the bodies that essentially propose educational strategies, curricula, pedagogical schemes and evaluation methodologies to the states' departments of education. The SCERTs generally follow guidelines established by the NCERT. But the states have considerable freedom in implementing the education system.
The National Policy on Education, 1986 and the Programme of Action (POA) 1992 envisaged free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality for all children below 14 years before the 21st Century. The government committed to earmark 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for education, half of which would be spent on primary education. The expenditure on Education as a percentage of GDP also rose from 0.7 per cent in 1951-52 to about 3.6 per cent in 1997-98.
The school system in India has four levels: lower primary (age 6 to 10), upper primary (11 and 12), high (13 to 15) and higher secondary (17 and 18). The lower primary school is divided into five “standards”, upper primary school into two, high school into three and higher secondary into two. Students have to learn a common curriculum largely (except for regional changes in mother tongue) till the end of high school. There is some amount of specialization possible at the higher secondary level. Students throughout the country have to learn three languages (namely, English, Hindi and their mother tongue) except in regions where Hindi is the mother tongue and in some streams as discussed below.
There are mainly three streams in school education in India. Two of these are coordinated at the national level, of which one is under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and was originally meant for children of central government employees who are periodically transferred and may have to move to any place in the country. A number of “central schools” (named Kendriya Vidyalayas) have been established for the purpose in all main urban areas in the country, and they follow a common schedule so that a student going from one school to another on a particular day will hardly see any difference in what is being taught. One subject (Social Studies, consisting of History, Geography and Civics) is always taught in Hindi, and other subjects in English, in these schools. Kendriya Vidyalayas admit other children also if seats are available. All of them follow textbooks written and published by the NCERT. In addition to these government-run schools, a number of private schools in the country follow the CBSE syllabus though they may use different text books and follow different teaching schedules. They have a certain amount of freedom in what they teach in lower classes. The CBSE also has 141 affiliated schools in 21 other countries mainly catering to the needs of the Indian population there.
The second central scheme is the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). It seems that this was started as a replacement for the Cambridge School Certificate. The idea was mooted in a conference held in 1952 under the Chairmanship of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then Minister for Education. The main purpose of the conference was to consider the replacement of the overseas Cambridge School Certificate Examination by an All India Examination. In October 1956 at the meeting of the Inter-State Board for Anglo-Indian Education, a proposal was adopted for the setting up of an Indian Council to administer the University of Cambridge, Local Examinations Syndicate's Examination in India and to advise the Syndicate on the best way to adapt its examination to the needs of the country. The inaugural meeting of the Council was held on 3rd November, 1958. In December 1967, the Council was registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The Council was listed in the Delhi School Education Act 1973, as a body conducting public examinations. Now a large number of schools across the country are affiliated to this Council. All these are private schools and generally cater to children from wealthy families.
Both the CBSE and the ICSE council conduct their own examinations in schools across the country that are affiliated to them at the end of 10 years of schooling (after high school) and again at the end of 12 years (after higher secondary). Admission to the 11th class is normally based on the performance in this all-India examination. Since this puts a lot of pressure on the child to perform well, there have been suggestions to remove the examination at the end of 10 years.
In addition to the above, there are a relatively small number of schools that follow foreign curricula such as the so-called Senior Cambridge, though this was largely superseded by the ICSE stream elsewhere. Some of these schools also offer the students the opportunity to sit for the ICSE examinations. These are usually very expensive residential schools where some of the Indians working abroad send their children. They normally have fabulous infrastructure, low student-teacher ratio and very few students. Many of them have teachers from abroad. There are also other exclusive schools such as the Doon School in Dehradun that take in a small number of students and charge exorbitant fees.
Apart from all of these, there are a handful of schools around the country, such as the Rishi Valley school in Andhra Pradesh, that try to break away from the normal education system that promotes rote learning and implement innovative systems such as the Montessori method. Most such schools are expensive, have high teacher-student ratios and provide a learning environment in which each child can learn at his/her own pace. It would be interesting and instructive to do a study on what impact the kind of school has had on the life of their alumni.
Each state in the country has its own Department of Education that runs its own school system with its own textbooks and evaluation system. As mentioned earlier, the curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation method are largely decided by the SCERT in the state, following the national guidelines prescribed by the NCERT.
Each state has three kinds of schools that follow the state curriculum. The government runs its own schools in land and buildings owned by the government and paying the staff from its own resources. These are generally known as government schools. The fees are quite low in such schools. Then there are privately owned schools with their own land and buildings. Here the fees are high and the teachers are paid by the management. Such schools mostly cater to the urban middle class families. The third kind consists of schools that are provided grant-in-aid by the government, though the school was started by a private agency in their own land and buildings. The grant-in-aid is meant to help reduce the fees and make it possible for poor families to send their children. In some states like Kerala, these schools are very similar to government schools since the teachers are paid by the government and the fees are the same as in government schools.
The Case of Kerala
The state of Kerala, a small state in the South Western coast of India, has been different from the rest of the country in many ways for the last few decades. It has, for instance, the highest literacy rate among all states, and was declared the first fully literate state about a decade back. Life expectancy, both male and female, is very high, close to that of the developed world. Other parameters such as fertility rate, infant and child mortality are among the best in the country, if not the best. The total fertility rate has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 for the last two decades. Probably as a side-effect of economic and social development, suicide rates and alcoholism are also very high. Government policies also have been very different from the rest of the country, leading to the development model followed in Kerala, with high expenditure in education and welfare, coming to be known as the “Kerala Model“ among economists.
Kerala has also always shown interest in trying out ways of improving its school education system. Every time the NCERT came up with new ideas, it was Kerala that tried it out first. The state experimented with the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) with gusto, though there was opposition to it from various quarters, and even took it beyond primary classes. The state was the first in the country to move from the traditional behaviorist way of teaching to a social constructivist paradigm. It was mentioned in the National Curriculum Framework of NCERT in the year 2000, and Kerala started trying it out the next year. The transaction in the classroom and the evaluation methodology were changed. Instead of direct questions that could be answered only through memorizing the lessons, indirect questions and open ended questions were included so that the student needed to think before answering, and the answers could be subjective to some extent. This meant that the students had to digest what they studied and had to be able to use their knowledge in a specific situation to answer the questions. At the same time, the new method took away a lot of pressure and the children began to find examinations interesting and enjoyable instead of being stressful. A Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE) system was introduced along with this, which took into consideration the overall personality of the student and reduced the dependence on a single final examination for deciding promotion to the next class. At present, the CBSE also has implemented CCE, but in a more flexible manner.
Kerala was also the first state in the country to introduce Information Technology as a subject of study at the High School level. It was started in class 8 with the textbook introducing Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. But within one year the government was forced to include Free Software also in the curriculum by protests from Free Software enthusiasts and a favorable stance taken by a school teachers association that had the majority of government teachers as its members. Eventually, from the year 2007, only GNU/Linux was taught in the schools, and all computers in schools had only GNU/Linux installed. At that time, perhaps even today, this was the largest installation of GNU/Linux in schools, and made headlines even in other countries. Every year, from 2007 onwards, about 500,000 children pass out of the schools learning the concepts behind Free Software and the GNU/Linux operating system and applications. The state is now moving towards IT Enabled Education. Eventually, IT will not be taught as a separate subject. Instead, all subjects will be taught with the help of IT so that the children will, on the one hand, learn IT skills and, on the other, make use of educational applications (such as those mentioned below) and resources in the Internet (such as textual material from sites like Wikipedia, images, animations and videos) to study their subjects and to do exercises. Teachers and students have already started using applications such as Dr. Geo, GeoGebra, and KtechLab for studying geometry and electronics. Applications like Sunclock, Kalzium and Ghemical are also popular among teachers and students.
The initiative taken by Kerala is now influencing other states and even the policies of the Government of India. States like Karnataka and Gujarat are now planning to introduce Free Software in their schools, and some other states like Maharashtra are examining the option. The new education policy of the Government of India speaks about constructivism, IT enabled education, Free Software and sharing educational resources. Once a few of the larger states successfully migrate to Free Software, it is hoped that the entire country would follow suit in a relatively short time. When that happens, India could have the largest user base of GNU/Linux and Free Software in general.
V. Sasi Kumar is a doctor in physics and a member of the FSF India Board of Directors. He advocates for Free Software and freedom of knowledge.
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