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Education in India


Education in India

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Education in India

Educational oversight

HRD Minister

Ministry of HRD
Arjun Singh

National education budget
• Discretionary
• Mandatory

Rs.24,115 crore (2006-07)

Primary language(s) of education

English, Other regional languages

Literacy (2001)
• Men
• Women

64.8 %
75.3 %
53.7 %

+Enrollment1 (2001-02)
Primary (I-V)
Mid/Upper Prim. (VI-VIII)
Higher Secondary (IX-X)

189.2 million
113.9 million
44.8 million
30.5 million

1. doesn't include kindergarten enrollment

India has been a major seat of learning for thousands of years. While some of the country's universities (BITS, IITs, NITs, IISc, ISB, TIFR, ISI, IIMs and AIIMS) are among the world's well-renowned, it is also dealing with challenges in its primary education and strives to reach 100% literacy. Universal Compulsory Primary Education, with its challenges of keeping poor children in school and maintaining quality of education in rural areas, has been difficult to achieve (Kerala is the only Indian state to reach this goal so far). All levels of education, from primary to higher education, are overseen by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Department of Higher Education (India) and Department of School Education and Literacy), and heavily subsidized by the Indian government, though there is a move to make higher education partially self-financing. Indian Government is considering to allow 100% foreign direct investment in Higher Education.[1]



  • 1 Structure

    • 1.1 Preprimary Education

    • 1.2 Elementary Education

    • 1.3 Non-graduation market

    • 1.4 Higher Education

      • 1.4.1 Accreditation

    • 1.5 Graduation market

  • 2 History

    • 2.1 Up to the 17th century

    • 2.2 Education under British Rule

    • 2.3 After Independence

    • 2.4 Education Commission

    • 2.5 After 1976

    • 2.6 Recent developments

  • 3 Outdoor Education in India

  • 4 Expenditure on Education in India

  • 5 Initiatives

    • 5.1 Non-Formal Education

    • 5.2 Bal Bhavans

    • 5.3 Distance education

  • 6 Education for special sections of society

    • 6.1 Women

    • 6.2 SC/STs and OBCs

    • 6.3 Post Graduate Classes at Correctional Homes

  • 7 Criticism of Indian Education System

  • 8 Chronology of main events

  • 9 See also

  • 10 Further reading

  • 11 Notes

  • 12 External links

[edit] Structure

Indian Education System comprises stages called Nursery,Primary,Secondary,Higher Secondary,Graduation & Post Graduation. Some students go in different stream after Secondary for 3 Years Technical education called Polytechnics

There are broadly four stages of school education in India, namely primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary(or high school). Overall, schooling lasts 12 years, following the "10+2 pattern". However, there are considerable differences between the various states in terms of the organizational patterns within these first 10 years of schooling. The government is committed to ensuring universal elementary education (primary and upper primary) education for all children aged 6-14 years of age. Primary school includes children of ages six to eleven, organized into classes one through five. Upper Primary and Secondary school pupils aged eleven through fifteen are organized into classes six through ten, and higher secondary school students ages sixteen through seventeen are enrolled in classes eleven through twelve. In some places there is a concept called Middle/Upper Primary schools for classes between six to eight. In such cases classes nine to twelve are classified under high school category. Higher Education in India provides an opportunity to specialize in a field and includes technical schools (such as the Indian Institutes of Technology), colleges, and universities.

In India, the main types of schools are those controlled by:

Overall, according to the latest Government Survey undertaken by NUEPA (DISE, 2005-6), there are 1,124,033 schools.

[edit] Preprimary Education

Preprimary education in India is not a fundamental right, with a very low percentage of children receiving preschool educational facilities. The largest source of provision is the so called Integrated Child Development Services (or ICDS), however, the preschool component in the same remains weak. In the absence of significant government provisions, private sector (reaching to the relatively richer section of society) has opened schools. Provisions in these kindergartens are divided into two stages - lower kindergarten (LKG) and upper kindergarten (UKG). Typically, an LKG class would comprise children 3 to 4 years of age, and the UKG class would comprise children 4 to 5 years of age. After finishing upper kindergarten, a child enters Class 1 (or, Standard 1) of primary school. Often kindergarten is an integral part of regular schools. Younger children are also put into a special Toddler/Nursery group at the age of 2–2½. It is run as part of the kindergarten. However, creches and other early care facilities for the underprivilaged sections of society are extremely limited in number. There are some organized players with standardized curriculums such as the Shemrock Preschools which cover a very small share of the population. Overall, the % enrollment is pre-primary classes to total enrollment (primary) is 11.22 (DISE, 2005-06).

[edit] Elementary Education

Primary school in the remote Kanji village of the Kargil district.

During the eighth five-year plan, the target of "universalizing" elementary education was divided into three broad parameters: Universal Access, Universal Retention and Universal Achievement i.e., making education accessible to children, making sure that they continue education and finally, achieving goals. As a result of education programs, by the end of 2000, 94% of India's rural population had primary schools within one km and 84% had upper primary schools within 3 km. Special efforts were made to enroll SC/ST and girls. The enrollment in primary and upper-primary schools has gone up considerably since the first five-year plan. So has the number of primary and upper-primary schools. In 1950-51, only 3.1 million students had enrolled for primary education. In 1997-98, this figure was 39.5 million. The number of primary and upper-primary schools was 0.223 million in 1950-51. This figure was 0.775 million in 1996-97.

In 2002/2003, an estimated 82% of children in the age group of 6-14 were enrolled in school. The Government of India aims to increase this to 100% by the end of the decade. To achieve this the Government launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

The strategies adopted by the Government to check drop-out rate are:

However, the poor infrastructure of schools has resulted in fairly high dropout rates. Thus, according to the DISE 2005-6 data 9.54% of the schools remain single classroom schools and 10.45% schools lack classrooms. The average pupil teacher ratio for the country is 1:36, with significant variations to the upper end and 8.39% schools are single teacher schols and 5.30% schools have more than 100 children for each teacher; 30.87% schools lack female teachers. Only 10.73% schools have a computer.

While the education system has undoubtedly undergone significant progress, a lot still needs to be done to enhance the learning of children from scheduled caste (or Dalit) families, scheduled and primitive tribes and religious minorities. Girls' enrollment continues to lag behind that of boys.

[edit] Non-graduation market

This is a chart of non-graduation market of India as per Census 2001.

While availability of primary and upper primary schools has been to a considerable extent been created, access to higher education (especially in rural areas) remains a major issue in rural areas (especially for girls). Government high schools are usually taught in the regional language, although some (especially urban) schools are English medium. These institutions are heavily subsidised. Study materials (such as textbooks, notebooks and stationary) are sometime but not always subsidised. Government schools follow the state curriculum. There are also a number of private schools providing secondary education. These schools usually either follow the State or national curriculum. Some top schools provide international qualifications and offer an alternative international qualification, such as the IB program or A Levels.

[edit] Higher Education

Higher education in India has evolved in distinct and divergent streams with each stream monitored by an apex body, indirectly controlled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. and funded by the state governments. Most universities are administered by the States, however, there are 18 important universities called Central Universities, which are maintained by the Union Government. The increased funding of the central universities give them an advantage over state competitors.

The Indian Institutes of Technology were placed 50th in the world and 2nd in the field of Engineering (next only to MIT) by Times Higher World University Rankings although they did not appear in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities.

International league tables produced in 2006 by the London-based Times Higher Education Supplement(THES) confirmed Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)'s place among the world's top 200 universities [2]. Likewise, THES 2006 ranked JNU's School of Social Sciences[3] at the 57th position among the world's top 100 institutes for social sciences.

The National Law School of India University is highly regarded, with some of its students being awarded Rhodes Scholarships to Oxford University, and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is consistently rated the top medical school in the country[citation needed]. Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are the top management institutes in India. [citation needed]

The private sector is strong in Indian higher education. This has been partly as a result of the decision by the Government to divert spending to the goal of universalisation of elementary education.

[edit] Accreditation

Accreditation for universities in India are required by law unless it was created through an act of Parliament. Without accreditation, the government notes "these fake institutions have no legal entity to call themselves as University/Vishwvidyalaya and to award ‘degree’ which are not treated as valid for academic/employment purposes."[4] The University Grants Commission Act 1956 explains,

"the right of conferring or granting degrees shall be exercised only by a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act carlo bon tempo, or a State Act, or an Institution deemed to be University or an institution specially empowered by an Act of the Parliament to confer or grant degrees. Thus, any institution which has not been created by an enactment of Parliament or a State Legislature or has not been granted the status of a Deemed to be University, is not entitled to award a degree."[4]

Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission[5]:

[edit] Graduation market

This is a chart of graduation market of India as per Census 2001.

^ Educational level






Non-technical diploma or certificate not equal to degree


Technical diploma or certificate not equal to degree


Higher Secondary, Intermediate, Pre-university or Senior Secondary


Matriculation or Secondary






Post-graduate degree other than technical degree


Graduate degree other than technical degree


Engineering and technology






Agriculture and dairying






[edit] History

India has a long history of organized education. The Gurukul system of education is one of the oldest on earth but before that the guru shishya system was extant, in which students were taught orally and the data would be passed from one generation to the next. Gurukuls were traditional Hindu residential schools of learning; typically the teacher's house or a monastery. Education was free (and often limited to the higher castes), but students from well-to-do families payed Gurudakshina, a voluntary contribution after the completion of their studies. At the Gurukuls, the teacher imparted knowledge of Religion, Scriptures, Philosophy, Literature, Warfare, Statecraft, mathematics, Medicine Astrology and "History" ("Itihaas"). Only students belonging to Brahmin and Kshatriya communities were taught in these Gurukuls. However, the advent of Buddhism and Jainism brought fundamental changes in access to education with their democratic character. The first millennium and the few centuries preceding it saw the flourishing of higher education at Nalanda, Takshashila University, Ujjain, & Vikramshila Universities. Art, Architecture, Painting, Logic, mathematics, Grammar, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), Law, and Medicine were among the subjects taught and each university specialized in a particular field of study. Takshila specialized in the study of medicine, while Ujjain laid emphasis on astronomy. Nalanda, being the biggest centre, handled all branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak. British records show that education was widespread in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country. The subjects taught included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Medical Science and Religion. The schools were attended by students representative of all classes of society. Traditional structures were not recognized by the British government and have been on the decline since. Gandhi is said to have described the traditional educational system as a beautiful tree that was destroyed during the British rule.

But scholars have questioned the validity of such an argument. The village pathshalas were often housed in shabby dwellings and taught by ill-qualified teachers. Instruction was limited mainly to the three Rs and the native mahajanilzamindari accounts. Printed books were not used, and most writing was done on palm leaf, plantain leaf, or on sand. There was no fixed class routine, timetable, or school calendar. There was no annual examination, pupils being promoted whenever the guru was satisfied of the scholar's attainments. There were no desks, benches,blackboards, or fixed seating arrangements. The decline probably started in the mid- 1700s. By the 1820s neither the village schools nor the tols or madrasas were the vital centers of learning. In 1823, Raja Rammohan Roy wrote to the governor-general, Lord Amherst, requesting that he not spend government funds on starting a Sanskrit College in Calcutta but rather employ "European Gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Anatomy and other useful sciences."The current system of education, with its western style and content, was introduced & founded by the British in the 20th century, following recommendations by Macaulay.

[edit] Up to the 17th century

The first millennium and the few centuries preceding it saw the flourishing of higher education at Nalanda, Takshila, Ujjain, & Vikramshila Universities. Art, Architecture, Painting, Logic, mathematics, Grammar, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), Law, and Medicine were among the subjects taught and each university specialized in a particular field of study. Takshila specialized in the study of medicine, while Ujjain laid emphasis on astronomy. Nalanda, being the biggest centre, handled all branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak.this is

[edit] Education under British Rule

British records show that indigenous education was widespread in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country. The subjects taught included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Medical Science and Religion. The schools were attended by students representative of all classes of society. But scholars have questioned the validity of such an argument. They argue that proponents of indigenous education fail to recognize the importance of the widespread use of printed books in the West since the sixteenth century, which led to a remarkable advancement of knowledge. Printed books were not used in Indian schools till the 1820s or even later. There were institutions such as Gresham's college in London that encouraged scientific learning. In fact, there were a number of such academic and scientific societies in England, often supported by Puritan and non-Conformist merchants, the like of which probably did not exist in India. The entire claim of indigenous education proponents is based on the thesis advocated by Dharampal which says that there was a general decline in Indian society and economy with the coming of British rule. In the process, indigenous education suffered. This, however, is too broad a generalization, and the exact impact of British rule on different regions at different times has to be studied more carefully before we conclude that the curve everywhere steadily declined. He argues that pre-British schools and colleges were maintained by grants of revenue-free land. The East India Company, with its policy of maximizing land revenue, stopped this and thus starved the Indian education system of its financial resources. Again, we need more detailed evidence to show how far inam lands were taken over by the government. More often, military officers, zamindar.~,and talukdars were deprived of revenue-free land rather than temples, mosques, madrasas. Recent research has revealed that inam lands continued to exist well into the nineteenth century, much more than was previously suspected.

The current system of education, with its western style and content, was introduced & funded by the British in the 19th century, following recommendations by Macaulay. Traditional structures were not recognized by the British government and have been on the decline since. Gandhi is said to have described the traditional educational system as a beautiful tree that was destroyed during British rule.

The British established many colleges like St. Xavier's College[disambiguation needed], Sydenham College, Wilson College and Elphinstone College in India.

According to Prof. Emeritus ^ M.G. Sahadevan, F.R.C.P. (London), the first medical college of Kerala was started at Calicut, in 1942-43, during World War II. Due to shortage of doctors to serve the military, the British Government decided to open a branch of Madras Medical College in Malabar, which was under Madras Presidency then. After the war, the medical school at Calicut was closed and the students continued their studies at Madras Medical College.

[edit] After Independence

After independence, education became the responsibility of the states. The Central Government's only obligation was to co-ordinate in technical and higher education and specify standards. This continued till 1976, when the education became a joint responsibility of the state and the Centre.

[edit] Education Commission

The Education Commission under the Chairmanship of Dr. D. S. Kothari, the then Chairman, University Grants Commission, began its task on October 2,1964. It consisted of sixteen members, eleven being Indians and five foreign experts. In addition, the Commission had the benefit of discussion with a number of internationally known as consultants in the educational as well as scientific field----.

[edit] After 1976

In 1976, education was made a joint responsibility of the states and the Centre, through a constitutional amendment. The center is represented by Ministry of Human Resource Development's Department of Education and together with the states, it is jointly responsible for the formulation of education policy and planning.

NPE 1986 and revised PoA 1992 envisioned that free and compulsory education should be provided for all children up to 14 years of age before the commencement of 21st century. Government of India made a commitment that by 2000, 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be spent on education, out of which half would be spent on the Primary education.

The 86th Amendment of the Indian constitution makes education a fundamental right for all children aged 6-14 years. The access to preschool education for children under 6 years of age was excluded from the provisions, and the supporting legislation has not yet been passed.

In November 1998, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced setting up of Vidya Vahini Network to link up universities, UGC and CSIR.

[edit] Recent developments

The Indian Education System is generally marks-based. However, some experiments have been made to do away with the marks-based system which has led to cases of depression and suicides among students. In 2005, the Kerala government introduced a grades-based system in the hope that it will help students to move away from the cut-throat competition and rote-learning and will be able to focus on creative aspects and personality development as well. iDiscoveri education started by Alumni of Harvard, XLRI is a pioneer in this field. This organization has already developed 5 model schools.

[edit] Outdoor Education in India

Outdoor education is relatively new to schools in India, though it is quite well established abroad. Acceptance is slowly increasing with a few schools advocating outbound adventure based programmes among students, to enhance personal growth through experiential learning and increase awareness about various subjects like the environment, ecology, wildlife, history, archaeology, geography and adventure sports. Some organisations that currently offer such programmes for schools are OETS and Wide Aware in Mumbai.Youreka& Ozonewho offer open summer programs based out of Delhi in north and Bangalore in South.

[edit] Expenditure on Education in India

The Government expenditure on Education has greatly increased since the First five-year plan. The Government of India has highly subsidized higher education. Nearly 97% of the Central Government expenditure on elementary education goes towards the payment of teachers' salaries.

Data based on "Educational Planning and Administration in India : Retrospect and Prospect", Journal for Education Planning and Administration, Vol. VII, Number 2, NHIEPA. New Delhi by Dr. R. V. Vaidayantha Ayyar.


  • Expenditure is in millions of Rupees

  • Expenditure for Ninth-year plan excludes Rs. 45267.40 million for Mid-Day Meals

[edit] Initiatives

[edit] Non-Formal Education

In 1979-80, the Government of India, Department of Education launched a program of Non-Formal Education (NFE) for children of 6-14 years age group, who cannot join regular schools. These children include school drop-outs, working children, children from areas without easy access to schools etc. The initial focus of the scheme was on ten educationally backward states. Later, it was extended to urban slums as well as hilly, tribal and desert areas in other states. The program is now functional in 25 states/UTs. 100% assistance is given to voluntary organizations for running NFE centers.

[edit] Bal Bhavans

Bal Bhavans centers, which are operational all over India, aim to enhance creative and sports skills of children in the age group 5-16 years. There are various State and District Bal Bhavans, which conduct programs in fine-arts, aeromodeling, computer-education, sports, martial arts, performing arts etc. They are also equipped with libraries with books for children. New Delhi alone has 52 Bal Bhavan centers. The National Bal Bhavan is an autonomous institution under the Department of Education. It provides general guidance, training facility and transfer of information to State and District Bal Bhavans situated all over India.

[edit] Distance education

India has a large number of Distance education programmes in Undergraduate and Post-Graduate levels. The trend was started originally by private institutions that offered distance education at certificate and diploma level. By 1985 many of the larger Universities recognized the need and potential of distance education in a poor and populous country like India and launched degree level programs through distance education. The trend caught up, and today many prestigious Indian Universities offer distance programs. Indira Gandhi National University, one of the largest in student enrollment, has only distance programs with numerous local centers that offer supplementary contact classes.

[edit] Education for special sections of society


[edit] Women

Under Non-Formal Education programme, about 40% of the centers in states and 10% of the centers in UTs are exclusively for girls. As of 2000, about 0.3 million NFE centers were catering to about 7.42 million children, out of which about 0.12 million were exclusively for girls.

In engineering, medical and other colleges, 30% of the seats have been reserved for women.

[edit] SC/STs and OBCs

The Government has reserved seats for SC/STs in all areas of education. Special scholarships and other incentives are provided for SC/ST candidates. Many State Governments have completely waived fees for SC/ST students. The IITs have a special coaching program for the SC/ST candidates who fail in the entrance exams marginally. Seats have been reserved for candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes as well in some states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The struggle for reserving seats for students from OBC categories in elite institutions like IITs, IIMs and AIIMS and Central Universities is still going on. The Supreme Court of India is obstructing this reservation for the reason that there has been no caste-wise census since 1931 and the population share of OBCs cannot be based on 1931 census. The Department for the Welfare of SC/ST/OBC/Minorities introduced the SC/ST tuition-fee reimbursement scheme in 2003-2004. The scheme applies to SC and ST students of Delhi who are enrolled in recognized unaided private schools and who have an annual family income of less than Rs. 1 lakh. It provides a 100% reimbursement of the tuition fees, sports fee, science fee, lab fee, admission fee and the co-curricular fee if the student's family income falls below Rs. 48, 000 per annum and a reimbursement of 75% if the family income is greater than Rs. 48, 000 per annum but less than Rs. 1 lakh. The subsidy provided by the scheme covers between 85% and 90% of the beneficiary's total running expenses in studying in a private school.

[edit] Post Graduate Classes at Correctional Homes

The Government of West Bengal has started the Post Graduate teaching facilities for the convicts at the Correctional Homes in West Bengal. The first of its kind has already started at Alipore Central Correctional Home, Kolkata where Utthan Paul, a life convict is pursuing his Post Graduation in Political Science from Netaji Subhas Open University. Dr. Imankalyan Lahiri , Lecturer in Political Science of Netaji Subhas Open University is taking his classes.

[edit] Criticism of Indian Education System

^ This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2007)
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed.

Modern education in India is often criticized for being based on rote learning. Emphasis is laid on passing examinations with high percentage. Very few institutes give importance to developing personality and creativity among students. Recently, the country has seen a rise in instances of student suicides due to low marks and failures, especially in metropolitan cities, even though such cases are very rare.

The presence of a number of education boards (SSLC, ICSE, CBSE, IB,IGCSE ) leads to non-uniformity. ICSE and CBSE boards, are sometimes favorably considered at the time of admission, although it cannot be said with certainty that their syllabuses are harder. A large number of SSLC (State board) students therefore complain that their ICSE and CBSE counterparts are given an advantage during college admissions, which are extremely competitive and sought for. Most colleges though account for these differences during admissions. The syllabi prescribed by the various boards are accused of being archaic and some textbooks (mostly ones written for the SSC) contain many errors.

The boards are recently trying to improve quality of education by increasing percentage of practical and project marks. However, critics say even this is memorized by students (or even plagiarized). This is attributed to pressure from parents who are eager to see high scores more than overall development.

Many people also criticize the caste, language and religion-based reservations in education system. Many allege that very few of the weaker castes get the benefit of reservations and that forged caste certificates abound. Educational institutions also can seek religious minority (non-Hindu) or linguistic minority status. In such institutions, 50% of the seats are reserved for students belonging to a particular religion or having particular mother-tongue(s). For example, many colleges run by the Jesuits and Salesians have 50% seats reserved for Roman Catholics. In case of languages, an institution can declare itself linguistic minority only in states in which the language is not official language. For example, an engineering college can declare itself as linguistic-minority (Hindi) institution in the state of Maharashtra (where official state language is Marathi), but not in Madhya Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh (where the official state language is Hindi). These reservations are said to be a cause of heartbreak among many. Many students with poor marks manage to get admissions, while meritorious students are left out. Critics say that such reservations may eventually create rifts in the society.

The general corruption prevalent in India is also an issue in the Education system. Engineering, medical and other lucrative seats are sometimes sold for high prices and ridden with nepotism and power-play.

Student politics is also a major issue, as many institutions are run by politicians.

Ragging is a major problem in colleges, many students die due to ragging every year. Some state governments have made ragging a criminal offence.

[edit] Chronology of main events

  • 1935: Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) set up.

  • 1976: Education made a joint responsibility of the states and the Centre.

  • 1986: National Policy on Education (NPE) and Programme of Action (PoA)

  • 1992: Revised National Policy on Education (NPE) and Programme of Action (PoA)

  • December 17, 1998: The Assam Government enacts a law making ragging in educational institutions a criminal offence.

  • November 1998: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announces setting up of Vidya Vahini Network to link up universities, UGC and CSIR.

  • September 2006: Education Reforms In India

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

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