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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

History of Education in India

The history of education in India is very rich and interesting. One can trace the ancient India education to the 3rd century BC. Research shows that in the ancient days, sages and scholars imparted education orally, but after the development of letters, it took the form of writing. Palm leaves and barks of trees were used for education, and this in turn helped spread the written literature. Temples and community centers often took the role of schools.

When Buddhism spread in India, education became available to everyone and this led to the establishment of some world famous educational institutions Nalanda, Vikramshila and Takshashila. These educational institutes in fact arose from the monasteries. History has taken special care to give Nalanda University, which flourished from the fifth to 13th century AD, full credit for its excellence. This university had around 10,000 resident students and teachers on its roll at one time. These students included Chinese, Sri Lankan, Korean and other international scholars.

It was in the 11th century that the Muslims established elementary and secondary schools. This led to the forming of few universities too at cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Allahabad. Medieval period saw excellent interaction between Indian and Islamic traditions in all fields of knowledge like theology, religion, philosophy, fine arts, painting, architecture, mathematics, medicine and astronomy.

Later, when the British arrived in India, English education came into being with the help of the European missionaries. Since then, Western education has made steady advances in the country. With hundreds of universities and thousands of colleges affiliated to them, in fact scores of colleges in every discipline, India has positioned itself comfortably as a country that provides quality higher education to its people in specific and to the world in g

India Education

With its plurality and paradoxes, India never ceases to fascinate. And education in India is only one among various other elements that have captured the attention of the world. While the United Nations is worried about the presence of a large number of illiterates, various other countries are amazed by the quality of some of the human resources that the Indian education system has produced.

The growth of the Indian economy in the recent past and the compulsion to sustain it is also forcing the Indian government to accelerate the process of developing all the branches of the Indian education system. Therefore, it would be very interesting to understand and analyze the various structures of education in India, its present condition and future developments.

India Education Historical Background:

The Vedas, Puranas, Ayurveda,Yoga, Kautilya's Arthasahtra are only some of the milestones that the traditional Indian knowledge system boasts of. There are evidences of imparting formal education in ancient India under the Gurukul system.

Under the Gurukul system, young boys who were passing through the Brahmacharya stage of life had to stay at the Guru or the teacher's home and complete their education.
Although the ancient system of education has produced many geniuses and still a major area of research, it was hardly egalitarian. Women and people of lower castes gradually lost their right to educate themselves. The spread of Jainism, Buddhism, Bhakti and Sufi movements did have some liberating effects on the condition of the women, sudras and atisudras. But it is the English language and the reformation movements of the 19th century that had the most liberating effect in pre-independent India. Thus, the Britishers, although rightly criticized for devastating the Indian economy, can also be credited for bringing a revolution in the Indian education system.

India Education Present Condition:

Soon after gaining independence in 1947, making education available to all had become a priority for the government. As discrimination on the basis of caste and gender has been a major impediment in the healthy development of the Indian society, they have been made unlawful by the Indian constitution.

The 86th constitutional amendment has also made elementary education a fundamental right for the children between the age group- 6 to 14. According to the 2001 census, the total literacy rate in India is 65.38%. The female literacy rate is only 54.16%. The gap between rural and urban literacy rate is also very significant in India. This is evident from the fact that only 59.4% of rural population are literate as against 80. 3% urban population according to the 2001 census.
In order to develop the higher education system, the government had established the University Grants Commission in 1953. The primary role of UGC has been to regulate the standard and spread of higher education in India. There has been a marked progress in the expansion of higher education if we look at the increase of higher educational institutes in India. The higher education system in India comprise of more than17000 colleges, 20 central universities, 217 State Universities, 106 Deemed to Universities and 13 institutes of Natioanl importance. This number will soon inflate as the setting up of 30 more central universities, 8 new IITs, 7 IIMs and 5 new Indian Institutes of Science are now proposed.

Education System in India:

The present education system in India mainly comprises of primary education, secondary education, senior secondary education and higher education. Elementary education consists of eight years of education. Each of secondary and senior secondary education consists of two years of education. Higher education in India starts after passing the higher secondary education or the 12th standard. Depending on the stream, doing graduation in India can take three to five years. Post graduate courses are generally of two to three years of duration. After completing post graduation, scope for doing research in various educational institutes also remains open.

Prominent Educational Institutes in India:

There are quite a good number of educational institutes in India that can compete with the best educational institutes of the world. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian Institutes of Science, National Law Schools, Jawaharlal Nehru University are some such institutes.

Education for the Marginalized in India:

As education is the means for bringing socio- economic transformation in a society, various measures are being taken to enhance the access of education to the marginalized sections of the society. One such measure is the introduction of the reservation system in the institutes of higher education. Under the present law, 7.5% seats in the higher educational institutes are reserved for the scheduled tribes, 15% for scheduled castes and 27% for the non creamy layers of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Under the Indian constitution, various minority groups can also set up their own educational institutes. Efforts are also being taken to improve the access to higher education among the women of India by setting up various educational institutes exclusively for them or reserving seats in the already existing institutes. The growing acceptance of distance learning courses and expansion of the open university system is also contributing a lot in the democratization of higher education in India.


Despite all the efforts to develop the education system in India, access, equity and quality of education in India continue to haunt the policy makers till this date. This has mainly been due to the widespread poverty and various prejudices. The inability to check the drop out rates among the marginalized sections of the population is another cause of worry. However, the renewed emphasis in the education sector in the 11th five year plan and increased expenditure in both primary and higher education can act as palliatives for the Indian education system.

To know more about the education system in India, Please find links below-

* India Education History
* Elementary Education in India
* Higher Education in India
* Women's Education in India
* Montessori Education in India
* Technical Education in India

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vision 2010

The Indian higher education system is on the threshold of change with the government introducing a slew of reforms to chalk out the roadmap for the 21st century, writes Surbhi Bhatia.

India's continued economic success will depend on it providing educated and skilled labour, with this in mind the government has announced an ambitious plan to bring about modernisation in the higher education system.

What should be the roadmap for higher education in the 21st century? According to Balagangadhara Rao, director of the Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap Ghent University, Belgium, higher education in the 21st century should focus on developing the ability to flourish in a world that is fundamentally diverse and irredeemably different . While MRS Rao, president, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), opines, 'Education in the 21st century should focus on knowledge creation. The government is thinking on the right lines that instead of a knowledge-absorbing society, India has to become a knowledge-generating society."

Besides, education, today, is without borders. BB Bhattacharya, vice-chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), asserts that 21st century education is global. 'Indian universities need to prepare themselves for this global system of education. Our universities need complete autonomy in terms of what to teach, how to teach and whom to teach. Currently, laws in India say a central university cannot appoint a foreign lecturer. If a professor from Bangladesh is an expert in SAARC and is willing to come to my university why can't I appoint him? Why should knowledge be restricted? Education should be free." Vivien Stewart, vice-president, Education, Asia Society, adds, "Globalisation poses questions about the excellence, equity and content of our education systems, which we must take into account if we are to adequately prepare our students for tomorrow."

Collaborative education is growing in importance across the globe, with an increased focus on innovation through R&D in order to advance towards a more 'knowledge-based ' economy . Also, today interdisciplinarity is being recognised to be essential for innovation and universities are unique environments where high academic standards and a vast range of disciplines meet and flourish.

According to M Anandakrishnan, chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, "We need to go beyond multidisciplinary options to towards an interdisciplinary approach. All cutting edge developments in technologies occur at the interface of two or more disciplines." He further added, "In recent years, the spectacular growth of knowledge in science and technology has been made possible by the integrated efforts of scientists, engineers and social scientists, in addressing complex problems from the perspectives of different disciplines. Interdisciplinarity enables integration of concepts, theories, techniques and perspectives from two or more disciplines to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline."

Besides knowledge, students should also pick up transferable skills and it should be incorporated in the curriculum . "There was a time when a person would remain in one profession for a lifetime. Now a US survey has shown that on an average a person changes at least 10 professions in his lifetime. Instead of preparing a career for life, we have to prepare a life of careers," says BVR Chawdari, professor, National University of Singapore (NUS).

Universities are becoming aware of the broader need for transferable skills in academic and non-academic environments. According to a survey by European University Association (EUA), the core transferable skills that a student should have, and these are quite independent of the field of knowledge, include social and communication skills, management, creative thinking, capacity of dealing with complex and multidisciplinary work and team.

Exposure to other cultures has become an important aspect of education today. Studying abroad remains a popular option in India, however, not everyone can enjoy the option. As Allan Goodman, president, Institute of International Education (IIE), says: 'Those of us who are involved in the field of international education tend to forget how unconnected most of our citizens are to the world.

Most people still do not travel and the majority of those who do are forced into it by adverse conditions and events. Of the nearly 150 million students in higher educational institutions around the world, less than two percent are studying abroad and in only 20 out of 200 countries." Christian Bode, secretary general, German Academic Exchange Service, advises "bring internationalisation to your campus through student/ faculty exchange, joint research programmes, and so on."

The emphasis placed on education has resulted in India having one of the largest higher education systems in the world, consisting of over 20,000 institutes enrolling more than 12 million students. However, as Amitabh Jhingan, partner, Ernst & Young, puts it, "growth in numbers has not been accompanied by an improvement in the delivery of higher education and consequent outcomes." The challenges facing the higher education system continue to be access, equity and quality. The gross enrolment ratio (GER) has grown but there still exists a wide disparity across regions and gender.

According to a Ernst&Young-FICCI report on 'Making the Indian Higher Education System Future Ready,' the five focus areas should be — financial innovation, innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICT), reinvigorating research, thrust on vocational education and training (VET) and regulatory reforms. The Yashpal Committee first appointed to look into the functioning of the University Grant's Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), went beyond its mandate to chalk out a plan to revamp higher education in-sync with international standards.

The Yashpal Committee Report titled, 'Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education,' emphasises the need for flexibility. "Over the years we have followed policies of fragmenting our educational enterprise into cubicles. If a student of science wants to study music, s/he should be given an option to do so whereas our current education system does not give this flexibility," says NR Madhava Menon, a member of the committee. To achieve universal higher education India has a lot of ground to cover but with the new reforms it is steering in the right direction.

Skills for the 21st Century

communication acquiring and processing information synthesising knowledge integrating knowledge from different disciplines leadership: team management, dealing with uncertainty, conflict handling failure management commercial awareness (market, IPR) research management creative thinking (discovery, imaging solutions) negotiation understanding of business environment user requirement consciousness coping with conflicting demands analytical skills methodological knowledge and skills communication and presentation skills management skills international, intercultural experience and competence working in such environments language skills people and relationship management skills computer science skills hard science knowledge (to a certain degree), e.g. statistics interdisciplinary skills and knowledge — broader picture and understanding of the world enterpreneurship social skills in different context (in different socio-economic environments) creative thinking, innovation ethics problem solving.