Education in India isn't something a new concept. It was always an integral part of the very foundation of the Indian society. With modern India, education too has taken a giant leap which has captured global attention not because of the number of illiterates the country has but the quality of education system it has evolved. The Indian economy has observed an immense growth in the recent past as an effect of the flourishing literacy rate in the country. With the history stretched back to the times of Vedas, Puranas, Ayurveda, Yoga, Arthasahtra...extending from formal education under the Gurukul system to the modern new age eLearning concept, India has for sure has travelled an exhaustive journey crossing each milestone.
It would be extremely interesting to understand and analyze the present and future developments of the educational scenario in India.
Education in India
The present statistics states that primary education has crossed the mark of approximately two-third of the total population. Out of which, 40% of the population is illiterate and only 20% of the students go to schools. Since time immemorial, discrimination based on caste and gender has always been a major deterrent when healthy development of the society is in question. So to avoid such prejudice, the Indian Constitution has made elementary education a fundamental right for every child falling between the age group of 6 to 14 years. According to the 2001 census, the sum total of literacy rate in India is 65.38% where the female literacy rate is only of 54.16%. With the fact that only 59.4% of rural population is literate compared to 80.3% of the urban population, there is a humongous gap between rural and urban literacy rate.
University Grants Commission (UGC) has been established by the Indian government to accelerate higher education system in the country. The chief role of UGC lies in controlling and co-coordinating the standards of higher education in the country.
With a view to promote elementary education in the country, the Indian government has also prohibited child labor to protect children from working under unhygienic conditions. However, both free education and ban on child labor are difficult to be enforced simultaneously due to poor economic disparity and social conditions. Moreover, shortage of adequate resources and lack of political support are some of the reasons due to which the system has been adversely affected by the gaps that include high teacher-student ratio, poor infrastructure and insufficient teacher training. In fact, professionals from established institutes are often called to support vocational training for these kids.
The government has initiated Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in 2001 with a view to provide instigate the education system and make its reach wider and more accessible to every child. The program focuses specially on girls and children with challenged social or financial backgrounds. In order to aid children firmer their grip in the computer sector as well, special schools are being set up in the rural areas.
Education for the Marginalized in India
Apart from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the government has also introduced reservation system where 7.5% seats in the higher educational institutes are reserved for the Schedule Tribes (ST), 15% for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and 27% for the non creamy layers of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Efforts are also being made to improve the education accessibility for the women section. The growing acknowledgment of concepts like eLearning and distance education courses along with expansion of the Open University system is also contributing a lot in standardizing education in India.
However, in spite of constant efforts being put forth to develop qualitative education system in India, there are still some major loopholes and widespread prejudices. With renewed emphasis laid on the education sector in the 11th five year plan and increased expenditure in both primary and secondary education, this can eventually act as an analgesic for the chronic Indian educational system.