In ancient India women were given the equal right to education and teaching. Women seers like 'Gayatri' were prominent participants in educational debates and the proceedings of the 'Parishads'.( Assemblies) It was mainly the Brahmins followed by Kshatriyas that received education at the Gurukuls while the boys from the lower caste learnt their family trade from their fathers.
Few of the most important universities of India in the ancient times were Taxila, Vikramshila and Nalanda. Taxila University of 7th century BC was famous for medical studies and a galaxy of eminent teachers such as Panini, the well known grammarian, Kautilya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya, and Charaka, a medical teacher of repute.
Nalanda was the highest learning center not just of India but also of the entire South Asia. Students from foreign countries like China, Japan, Korea used to come here for higher studies. It had around 10,000 students and teachers on its roll cards. The University had eight colleges. And one of the colleges had four-storied building. It was one of the earliest examples of residential cum learning complex.
Vikramshila University. Varanasi was famous for religious teachings. In the South, Kanchi was famous for its studies while the Vallabhi University was no less. Huan Tsang in his records mention the university to be at par with Nalanda and Vikramshila universities.
India had several great minds at work, which contributed in every aspect of life. The concept of zero, decimal and Pythagoras Theorem were all developed here.
As India progressed from ancient to medieval its education system deteriorated. Various factors were responsible for the degradation of this most efficient and most ancient education system of the world.
The present educational system of India is an implantation of British rulers. Wood's Dispatch of 1854 laid the foundation of present system of education in India. Before the advent of British in India, education system was private one. With the introduction of Wood's Dispatch known as Magna Carta of Indian education, the whole scenario changed. The main purpose of it was to prepare Indian Clerks for running local administration. Under it the means of school educations were the vernacular languages while the higher education was granted in English only. British government started giving funds to indigenous schools in need of help and thus slowly some of the schools became government-aided.
Today education system in India can be divided into many stages.
- Pre- Primary - It consists of children of 3-5 years of age studying in nursery, lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten. At this stage student is given knowledge about school life and is taught to read and write some basic words.
- Primary - It includes the age group of children of 6-11 years studying in classes from first to fifth.
- Middle - It consists of children studying in classes from sixth to eighth.
- Secondary - it includes students studying in classes ninth and tenth.
- Higher Secondary - Includes students studying in eleventh and twelfth classes.
- Undergraduate - Here, a student goes through higher education, which is completed in college. This course may vary according to the subject pursued by the student. For medical student this stage is of four and a half years plus one year of compulsory internship, while a simple graduate degree can be attained in three years.
- Postgraduate - After completing graduation a student may opt for post graduation to further add to his qualifications.
Education Governing Bodies
- The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): This is the main governing body of education system in India. It has control over the central education system. It conducts exam and looks after the functioning of schools accredited to central education system.
- The Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE): It is a board for Anglo Indian Studies in India. It conducts two examinations 'Indian Certificate of Secondary Education' and 'Indian School Certificate'. Indian Certificate of secondary education is a k-10 examination for those Indian students who have just completed class 10th and Indian school certificate is a k-12 public examination conducted for those studying in class 12th.
- The State Government Boards: Apart from CBSE and CISCE each state in India has its own State Board of education, which looks after the educational issues.
- The National Open School: It is also known as National Institute of Open Schooling. It was established by the Government Of India in 1989. It is a ray of hope for those students who cannot attend formal schools.
- The International School: It controls the schools, which are accredited to curriculum of international standard.
According to the Constitution of India, elementary education is a fundamental right of children in the age group of 6-14 years. India has about 688,000 primary schools and 110,000 secondary schools. According to statistics two third of school going age children of India are enrolled in schools but the figures are deceptive as many don't attend schools regularly. At least half of all students from rural area drop out before completing school. The government has rolled out many plans to increase the percentage of elementary education. The plans such as 'Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), District Primary Education Program (DPEP), Operation Blackboard, Mid Day Meal have been successful to great extent.
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
The main goal of this program is that all children of 6-11 years of age should complete primary education by the year 2007 and all children of 6-14 years of age should complete eight years of schooling by 2010. This plan covers the whole country with special emphasis on girl education and education of Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) children and children with special needs. The SSA centers are mainly opened in those areas, which do not have any school or where schools are very far off. Special girl oriented programs include:
- Girl education at elementary level.
- National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL)
- Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)
- Mahila Samakhya Scheme
District Primary Education Program
This program was launched in 1994 with the objective of universalization of primary education. Its main features are Universal Access, Universal Retention and Universal Achievement. It aims that the primary education should be accessible to each and every child of school going age, once a child is enrolled in school he/ she should be retained there. The final step is achievement of the goal of education. The main components of this program are:
- Construction of classrooms and new schools
- Opening of non-formal schooling centers
- Setting up early childhood education centers.
- Appointment of teachers.
- Providing education to disabled children.
It was started in 1987-88. The aim of this program is to improve human and physical resource availability in primary schools of India. According to this program every primary school should have at least two rooms, two teachers and essential teaching aids like blackboard, chalk, duster etc.
National Bal Bhavan
The National Bal Bhavan was opened with the aim of developing overall personalities of children of all strata of society irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and gender. It supplements school education by helping children to learn in play way and natural environment.
Other important endeavors taken up by Indian government for the development of education in India includes:
- Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti
- Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan
- Integrated Education for disabled children
- National Council of Educational Research and Training
The enrollment at secondary school throughout the country was close to 28 million in 1998-99. Efforts are being made to increase this figure through the implementation of proposed new educational strategies.
Education system in India is making fast progress. The data of students' enrollment at primary and secondary level of school education testifies to it.
|Year||Primary (Lakh person)||Middle (Lakh person)|
This massive system of higher education in India constitutes of 342 universities (211 State, 18 Central, 95 deemed universities) 13 institutes of national importance, 17,000 colleges and 887 polytechnics. University Grant Commission (UGC), a national body, coordinates and looks after the maintenance of standard of university education in India. The university education in India starts with undergraduate courses. Depending upon the nature of course pursued its duration may vary from three to five and a half years.
Academic Degree Course
This undergraduate course in India is of three years' duration. After completing this course student get a Bachelor's degree in the subject studied such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce or Bachelor of Science.
There are large numbers of professional courses at the undergraduate level. Student may opt for any of it depending upon their interest and condition of eligibility.
This course at undergraduate level is known as MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery). It is of four and a half year's duration plus one year of obligatory internship. Various medical colleges conduct entrance examination for admission to this course. An all India level examination is also conducted by CBSE for admission to colleges all over India based over 15% reserved seats. The important medical colleges of India are:
- All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi
- Air Force Medical College (AFMC), Pune
- Christian Medical College (CMC), Ludhiana
- Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore
- Grants Medical College, Mumbai
- Institute of Medical Science (BHU), Varanasi
- Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry
- Maulan Azad Medical College (MAMC), Delhi
- Lady Harding Medical College (LHMC), Delhi (for girls only)
- Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Science , Wardha
The bachelor of Engineering (BE) or bachelor of Technology (B Tech) is a four-year course. It has wide range of options. Some of them are:
- Aeronautical and Aerospace engineering
- Agriculture engineering
- Computer engineering
- Electronic and electrical engineering
- Industrial engineering
- Marine engineering
- Mining engineering
The best engineering colleges of India are:
- Delhi college of Engineering, Delhi
- Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
- Indian Institute of Technology, KANPUR
- Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
- Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai
- Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai
- Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
- Institute of Technology, BHU
- NIT Karnataka, Surathkal
- National Institute of Technology, Warangal
In India education in management is one of the most sort out courses. The institutes, which impart education in management, are known as "Business Schools". In India management education is given at two levels, undergraduate and post-graduate. Undergraduate degree courses include BBA, BBS, BBM. Postgraduate degree course is known as MBA (Masters of Business Administration). Some of the important Business schools of India are:
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
- Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
- Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata
- Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow
- Indian Institute of Management, Indore
- Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi
- Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi
- Symbiosis, Pune
- JBIMS, Mumbai
- XLRI, Jamshedpur
The other professional courses offered by Indian universities include, Architecture, Dental, Fashion Designing, Travel and Tourism.
Distance Education in India
Indian Education system offers distance education to those who cannot join regular schools or colleges. National Institute of Open Schooling offers school education through distance learning.
University Education is also offered thorough distance learning. Many college courses like in arts (history, economics, literature, Islamic studies), commerce (finance, banking, accounting) are offered by Indian universities. Apart from these, professional courses in management, mass media, para medical, engineering, law, travel and tourism are also part of distance education in India.
The national policy of education (1986) and program of action (1992) lay down the objectives and features of Indian education policy. It includes:
- Development of International cooperation and peaceful coexistence through education.
- Promotion of equality. It could be achieved by providing equal access and equal condition of success to children.
- A common educational structure (10+2+3) for the whole of India.
- Education for women's equality. The Indian education should be used as a tool to change the status of women in the society.
- Equalization of SC population with others in the matter of education. This is ensured by giving incentives to parents who send their children to schools, providing scholarship to SC students for higher studies, reservation of seats in institution of higher studies in India, recruitment of SC teachers.
- Opening of primary schools in tribal area for promotion of education in ST people.
- Development of curriculum and study material in the language of tribal people.
- Emphasis on the education of minorities.
- Adult education - Initiation of National Literacy Mission, for teaching illiterate people of age group 15-35. And making them aware of the day-to-day realities of their surroundings.
- Special emphasis on early childhood care and education by opening up of day care centers, promotion of child focused programs.
- Increasing the scope of Operation Blackboard for upliftment of standard of primary education in India.
- Secondary education curriculum should expose the students to differentiated roles of science, the humanities, and social science.
- Redesigning of courses of higher education to meet the increasing demand of professionalism.
- Providing enhanced support to the research work in Universities. Efforts to relate ancient Indian knowledge with the contemporary reality.
- Setting up of Open Universities and Distance Learning centers to promote the goal of education as a life long process.
- A combined perspective of technical and management education.
- Minimum exposure to computers and training in their use to be the part of professional education.
- The All India Council for Technical Education will be responsible for maintenance of norms and standards, accreditation, funding, and monitoring of technical and management education in India.
- Multiple task performance for teachers such as teaching, research, development of learning resource material, extension and management of the institution.
- Providing teachers a better deal to make education system in India work in proper way, as teachers are the backbone of the system. Providing better facilities to institutions and improved services to students.
- Development of languages in great deal.
- Measures to be taken for easy accessibility of books at minimum costs to all sections of students.
- Strengthening of science education for the development of spirit of inquiry and objectivity in the minds of students.
- The purpose of examination to be to bring about qualitative improvement in education. It should discourage memorization.
- Methods of teacher recruitment to be recognized one to ensure merit and objectivity in the system.
- Overhauling of the system of teacher education and establishment of District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) to organize courses for elementary school teachers.
- Reviewing of educational developments by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)
- Involvement of local communities for school improvement programmes.
- Review of the implementation of the parameters of the policy every five years,
- Strengthening the base of pyramid of Indian population for proper development of education system in India.
National Policy of Education (1992) laid down many objectives for the development of education system in India but it has not been successful in achieving all of them. It has specified that the examination system should discourage the memorizing but it is what is going on. The education in India seems to encourage rote learning instead of experimentation and questioning. There is some disparity in assessment as all the State Boards have different standards of evaluation.
The reservation on the basis of caste and religion is also a negative point in Indian education. Corruption is visible in the allocation of seats of institutions of higher studies and student politics is another sore point. These are some of the issues, which need to be worked upon.
Though there are disparities between the objectives and their implementation in education but still education system in India has come a long way and will continue to improve in the future.
Some important facts about Indian education:
- Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to the world and 'charaka' is known as the father of Ayurveda. He developed this system some 2500 years back.
- Takshila was the first university of world established in 700 B.C.
- Nalanda University, built in 4 AD, was considered to be the honor of ancient Indian system of education as it was one of the best Universities of its time in the subcontinent.
- Indian language Sanskrit is considered to be the mother of many modern languages of world.
- Place value system was developed in India in 100 B.C.
- India was the country, which invented number system.
- Aryabhatta, the Indian scientist, invented digit zero.
- Trigonometry, algebra and calculus studies were originated in India.