Indian Education System – Past & the Present

Indian Education System has  two types of sectors in India which provides education, namely the private and the public sectors. Generally, a three level funding is received either from the local, state or the national level. The Indian constitution states that compulsory and free education should be provided to children 6 to 14 years of age. The ratio of private schools to public schools in India is 5:7.

An increase in primary education attendance rate has been observed in India in 2011 helping in expanding the literacy rate between the 7-10 years’ age group by three quarters. This improvement in education system is responsible for the growth of Indian economy to some extent. Public institutions are mainly given credit for the progression in scientific research and higher education. Though an increase in enrolment in higher education summing up to 24% has been seen in recent years, still a significant improvement is necessary to catch up with the levels of developed nations.

Rich Tradition in Education

India is a country which always gave preference to education. The earliest recorded higher learning center, Takshasila belongs to 5th century BCE. The oldest university system of education, Nalanda University also belongs to India. Buddhist Monasteries, Mutts & Hindu temples also provided education in subjects like medicine etc. Between the period 500 BCE to 400 BCE, an increase in the number of Urban institutions had been seen in India. Among others, the most important institutions were the Nalanda (in Bihar) and Taxila (in Pakistan). These institutions attracted many students from foreign lands and taught them subjects such as grammar, logic, Buddhist literature, Vedic literature etc. A Brahmin teacher named Chanakya associated with the Mauriyan Empire’s founding was one of Takshasila’s most famous teachers. Temples and Brahmin gurus also started offering education by means of donations. Secular educations along with compulsory religious education was taught in the temples. The education was given according to the class and caste of the person. The Brahmins were educated in philosophy, religion and other similar subjects. Warfare education was given to the Kshatriyas. The trading and business education were taught to the Vaishyas and the Shudras were not allowed to take part in any education. Arthashastra, the book on statecraft and the Munusmitri, the book of laws was one of the most influential works of that time reflecting the understanding and outlook of the world at that moment.

Modern educational system in India

Most of the state and central boards follow the 10+2+3 structure of education. Up to 10+2 education is given in schools or colleges and the remaining 3 years is for graduation. Though some of the specialized graduation like engineering or M.B.B.S needs 4 and 5 years respectively. The 10+2 system is further divided into sub parts. In the first 5 years, primary education is given to the student. The next 5 years is for secondary education and the remaining 2 years for the higher secondary education. In these last 2 years, the students are given an option to choose from a variety of groups of subjects majorly the Science, Arts or the Commerce. The schools choose and group the students according to their performance and choice.

THE NCERT or the National Council of Educational Research and Training is the highest body for the curriculum related activities for the school education in India. It also provides technical assistance and support to many schools and also controls many matters related to the enforcement of education policies in India. There are also other bodies which govern school education such as the State government boards, CBSE or Central board of Secondary Education, CISCE or The Council of Indian School Certificate Examination, NIOS or The National Institute of Open Schooling, International schools affiliated to the Cambridge International Examinations or the International Baccalaureate Programme, Islamic Madrasah schools, Schools which are autonomous like the Woodstock school, Patha Bhavan, Auroville, Ananda Marga Gurukula, the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Puducherry and International schools which offers 10 and 10+2 examinations under the Cambridge Senior Secondary Examination systems or the International Baccalaureate.

In addition to all these boards, National Council for Teacher Education or NCTE and National University of Educational Planning and Administration or NUEPA also manages teacher accreditation and the education system. Government of India has also launched Vocational Training opportunities for students pursuing higher education to help them gain practical experience on the subject.

Though schooling in India generally falls under the private or the public sectors, another less explored option ‘Homeschooling’ is also open for those parents who are unwilling to send their child to schools. According to Kapil Sibal, the HRD minister, government of India would not interfere if the parents decide not to send their children to school. Even the master of literature and the Noble Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore also did not believe in formal education and was mostly homeschooled.

Featured Photo of Nalanda by Prince Roy under CC BY 2.0

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