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Secondary Education

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What is Secondary Education?

We can understand secondary education as the second phase or stage of traditional formal education that encapsulates ages 11 to 18. Students pursue secondary education after six years of primary or elementary education. The dichotomy between secondary and primary education is becoming more and more blurred in recent times. We can see the gradual convergence in terms of curricula and organization.

Since 1989, education has transformed into a fundamental human right for children as per Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of Child. The Article iterates that primary education has to be made and compulsory for all children, while secondary education in its various facets should be available and accessible to every child. Now that we have touched upon the basics let us try and answer the question – what is secondary education – in further detail!

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History of Secondary Education

To answer the question – what is secondary education – we have to dive back into history and trace education advancements since the classical and medieval times. Pieces of evidence suggest that a form of secondary education became indispensable in all societies that engaged with written language and commerce. In Western Europe, we can trace the lineage of secondary education to the Athenian educational reforms of 320 BCE. Despite the gradual decline of the Greek civilization, the education system they proposed was highly revered in the Roman system. The concept of secondary education in Hellenistic and Roman rhetoric entailed the study of seven liberal arts and sciences such as grammar, logic, geometry, and so forth. Such programs were seen as the premise to move forward to tertiary education.

When we specially talk about England, the Canterbury Schools brought out the tradition of imbibing more than the necessary Latin skills to students. As such, the rules of metric, astrology, and geometry began to be taught to students. Furthermore, it is noteworthy to highlight that from ancient civilizations to the period of Renaissance and Reformation, the church controlled and provided secondary education. From 1100, grammar schools exempt from church control were founded in many parts of Western Europe.

But, only after the Reformation period, the state begins to wrest control of the learning from the church. From 1100, grammar schools exempt from church control were founded in many parts of Western Europe. Scholars like John Locke propounded the tradition of elevating secondary education from a mere repetition of Latin texts to constructing knowledge among children. To understand secondary education further, we have to deal with the question – what is secondary school!

What is Secondary School?

We can understand secondary school as an institution that extends secondary level education to children. They are places that follow on from primary education and prepare children for vocational and tertiary training. Different names in different countries know secondary schools. For example, they are termed 'secondary school' or 'higher secondary school.' Likewise, in Australia, secondary schools are called Gymnasium, in Northern Ireland, it is known as Grammar School, and so forth. Now that we have answered the question – what is secondary school – let us dovetail into the remaining nitty-gritty of secondary education details.

Secondary Education in Contemporary Times

Up till the 19th century, high school education was the possession of a privileged few. It was only after 1945 that the rights to secondary education were codified. In contemporary times, various international organizations like UNESCO asserts that secondary education is imperative for young people to live free and dignified lives. Different modern competencies like computer skills, ICT, civic responsibilities, language skills, and so forth have gained prominence as invaluable aspects of secondary education. Experts believe that the hour's need is to vigilantly observe secondary education phenomenon worldwide to keep it abreast with scientific, technological, and socio-economic societal alterations.

Secondary Education in India

In India, the structure of secondary education is such that it serves as the primordial link between primary education and higher education. The rudimentary concepts that are taught in primary schools are further established in secondary schools. Also, the themes that will be taught in higher education are touched upon in the secondary curriculum. It is noteworthy to illustrate that secondary education in India covers 2 to 3 years of academic training and encapsulates 8th, 9th, and 10th standards that comprise students from the age group of 13 to 16 years. The culmination of secondary education in the Indian context comes as the class 10th board examinations. The examination consists of five to six subjects like English, Mathematics, Social Science, Science, and at least one language paper.

In conclusion, we can say that secondary education is a pivotal point in a child's life. Various essential academic pieces of training are associated with secondary learning all over the globe. Although the secondary school system may slightly differ from one country to another, the basic premise is the same.

Last updated date: 02nd Oct 2023
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FAQs on Secondary Education

Q1. Can you describe the secondary school system of Britain?

Ans. Great Britain's secondary education is associated with comprehensive schools that admit children from the age of 11. These schools enrol children irrespective of their aptitude and extend academic and vocational training under a single roof. Comprehensive schools are organized in several ways and serve children from the secondary school age of 11 to 16 or 11 to 18. The Education Reform Act of 1988 mandated a uniform national curriculum and propounded the consistent assessment of children's performance from ages 5 to 16.

Q2. Can you describe the US System of secondary education?

Ans. The United States has made a minimal distinction between primary education and secondary education. As such, the country has a unified system that ties elementary education and secondary education together. It is noteworthy to remember that education is within the purview of individual states in the USA. Hence, there are some variations in the structure. But, children usually enter secondary schools by the age of 13 or 14 and graduate by the age of 18. In the USA, approximately 80 percent of children attend secondary schools.