Education opens up a world of possibilities for individuals by empowering them with knowledge. It is the cultivation of learning in various ways. One of the most common ways to obtain an education is by going to a formal school and learning from teachers, but it is not limited to that. Education in the bigger picture is the process of encouraging discovery and innovation. From the time we are born, humans keep learning, sometimes consciously and many times subconsciously. Education is an all-encompassing field of acquiring knowledge, values, skills, habits, and beliefs.
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The importance of education in India has been seen right from ancient times. Human education in India can be traced back to ancient times when the Gurukul system existed. In this Guru-Shishya (teacher-disciple) system, those who wanted to study would go to teachers and request to be accepted as a disciple. If accepted, the disciple had to stay at the teacher’s place, and apart from learning, he also had to help in other household chores. This system fostered a strong tie between the Guru and Shishya, and it also taught the disciple how to run a household. Teachers of that era taught all the subjects in open classrooms, under the sun. Languages like Sanskrit and holy scripture, as well as metaphysics and mathematics, were part of the learning process. Learning was based more on understanding their surroundings and nature, not just memorizing verses or shlokas.
This education system got an impetus and flourished with universities like Nalanda, Ujjain, Takshashila, and Vikramshila.
Lord Thomas Babington Macauly brought the modern form of education and the English language to India in the 1830s. The development of education in India was marked by classroom confinement, and modern subjects like science and maths were part of this curriculum. Subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were deemed unnecessary at that time.
The first education board, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, was set up in Uttar Pradesh in India in 1921. This board’s jurisdiction included Rajputana, Gwalior, and central India. In 1929 another board for high school was established in Rajputana. Few other boards came up in different states but eventually in 1952 a central board called CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) was set up, which included all the schools in Delhi and a few other regions. All the schools affiliated with the CBSE board followed the curriculum, examination system, and textbooks prescribed by the board. In 1958, the ICSE board came into existence. In today’s date, there are thousands of schools in India that follow the CBSE syllabus. This syllabus is also followed in a few other countries like Zimbabwe, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
The importance of education in India can be understood by the fact that the Indian constitution has a provision for free education to children till the age of 14. RTE or right to education is a fundamental right for all the citizens of India, and education in our country is compulsory for children in the age group of 6 to 14. The government of India has made education its priority, and education is to be imparted to all citizens of India without any discrimination based on caste, religion, class, gender, etc.
The growth of education sector in India can be gauged by the following statistics.
There are more than 7,40,000 formal schools in India.
The number of teachers working on a full-time basis is over 3.6 million.
The importance of education in modern India has given rise to more than 175 universities that offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
There are approximately 6000 colleges affiliated with these universities.
India is now witnessing the era of science and technology. Education in India has now reorganized itself to emphasize how essential technology is in our everyday life. Students are being trained in these spheres as per the need of the time.
Recently virtual international K-12 education in India has been launched. It is in collaboration with iNaCa (International connections academy). K-12 is affiliated with the state board, CBSE, and CISCE (Council for the Indian school certificate examinations). This education aims to let students learn at their own pace with engaging multimedia tools like enhanced videos, game-based learning, social learning, etc. K-12 (K is for kindergarten and 12 is for class 12) focus is to infuse innovation and creativity in children which it strives to achieve by:
Breaking away from the standard testing methodology and encouraging students to find answers to questions by themselves through observation and judgement.
Having technology-driven learning where blended teaching (virtual and in-person) happens, improves the primary education standards in India.
Designing syllabus and curriculum which would prepare students for the workplace of the future.
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As per the Census done in 2011, the current status of literacy and other parameters in the Indian education system is as follows.
The overall literacy rate is 74% with males’ literacy at 82.1% and females’ at 65.5%.
The most literate state in India is Kerala, and the other top rankers are Delhi, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
The gender gap in literacy rates has narrowed down since 1991.
From 2001 to 2011, the male literacy rate has increased by 6%, and female literacy has grown by 12%.
World literacy, as per UNESCO in 2015, stands at 86.3% and India needs to catch-up with it. The image below represents public education spendings in different countries in the years 2007 and 2016.
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1. What is the current pyramidal structure of education in India?
The Indian education system is represented by a pyramidal structure in the following manner.
Pre-primary which is education up to 5 to 6 years of age.
Primary or elementary education from 6 to 14 years of age. Article 21-A of our constitution guarantees elementary level education for all. The government has introduced SSA ( Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) for this level, as per RTE.
Secondary level denotes education from 14 to 18 years. The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan has been undertaken by the government for this level.
Higher education - RUSA or Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan is provided by the government to cater to higher education which mainly refers to UG -> PG -> Ph.D./MPhil courses.
2. What are some of the problems that the education sector in India faces?
The educational development in India is still not at par with world education and some of the primary reasons for it are as follows.
Lack of funds - The funds allotted for educational development in the 5-year plans are not adequate and have been decreasing. Due to insufficient funds, educational institutes have to bear lousy infrastructure, lack of science equipment, poor libraries, etc.
The increasing cost of higher education - Universities and technical education are quite costly in our country. Institutes like IIMs and IITs have high fees that common people cannot afford.
Less importance to Indian Languages - Most of the standard publications are in English and not in regional languages. So children from rural areas, who are not well-versed with the English language suffer and the result is that they cannot be educated in science properly.
Brain drain - Intelligent and competent people, do not get the kind of jobs they want in India. Hence, they go to other countries like the US and UK seeking high-paying jobs. This way, our country misses out on quality and talented professionals.