Education in Post-Independence India including recent developments





As you know, we got independence from British rule in 1947 and the responsibility of planning for the eduation of our people fell on the Indian Government of free India. To achieve the goals of personal, economic, social, political and cultural development, it is necessary to make appropriate provisions for an integrated programme of education for people who happen to be living at different levels of development, possessing different linguistic, social and cultural attributes. Such programmes have to be based upon a common curriculum to strengthen unity within diversity and also to facilitate mobility from one part of the country to another.

If adequate measures are not taken for the spread of education, economic inequality, regional imbalance and social injustice can widen further resulting in the building up of tensions in society. That is why in 1966, the Report of the Education Commission (1964- 66) (popularly known as Kothari Commission) referred to education as the only instrument of peaceful social change. To this end, the Constitutional Amendment of 1976 included education in the concurrent list, that is, the centre and states both assume joint responsibility of education.


Elementary Education:

Elementary education is the most crucial stage of education, spanning the first eight years of schooling (class I to VIII) and laying the foundation for the development of personality, attitudes, social confidence, habits, life skills and communication skills of the pupils. The Constitution under Article 45 provided for the State to introduce compulsory and free education for children upto the age of fourteen. The period of elementary school is now also recognised as a period of free and compulsory schooling vide the constitutional amendment making education a fundamental right. The National Policy on Education 1986 emphasized that thrust areas in elementary education will be:

i) universal access and enrolment.
ii) universal retention of children upto fourteen years of age in the school.
iii) substantial improvement in the quality of education to enable all children to achieve essential levels of learning.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was a flagship programme of the Central Government for universalization of elementary education started in 2001 .


Secondary Education:

“Secondary school is a period of intense physical change and formation of identity. It is also the period of intense vibrancy and energy.”

There has been a phenomenal expansion of secondary education since independence. It covers children of age group 14-18 (classes 9th to 12th). According to 2001 census 88.5 million children are enrolled in secondary education. However enrolment figures show that only 31 million of these children were attending schools in 2001-2002. While a great increase has taken place in number of schools and in enrolment, there has been a lesser increase in the number of teachers. It is obvious that, on the whole it has adversely affected the teacher-pupil ratio. The pressure for expansion will most certainly continue and may indeed increase as the country progresses towards the universalisation of education. Although anyone in India who wishes to pursue secondary education (upto class X) is
allowed to do so, not more than half of those who pass the upper primary stage join the secondary classes. After the success of SSA at elementary stage, the central government is all set to achieve the goal of universalization of secondary education under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.

Vocational education is a distinct stream at Senior Secondary Stage. It aims at preparing students for various occupations involving various kinds of activities. Vocationalisation of higher secondary education was a major objective of the reforms envisaged in the First Education Policy adopted in 1968. However, the attempts made till now have not borne fruits and enrolment in the scheme, which was expected to include around 50% of students at the +2 level, has remained marginal and confined to a few states. According to the planning commission report for the 11th five year plan, there are about 5114 Industrial Training Institutes (ITI’s) imparting training in 57 engineering and 50 non-engineering trades. A positive step in this direction in recent times has been the setting up of a National Skill Development Mission and Training.


Higher Education:

The first Prime Minister of India, late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, who laid the foundation of the process of India’s modernisation, declared that if all is well with the Universities, all would be well with the nation. Higher education begins after a student completes senior secondary (class XII) stage. He then enters a college which is part of a university. Despite the key role assigned to higher education, the development in this field has been extremely uneven. While few colleges and universities are playing a crucial role in academic excellence, the general condition of universities and colleges is a matter of great concern to the nation.

The number of students in the age group of 18-20 years enrolled for higher education is low. The proportion is even more adverse in some regions, particularly in case of women, scheduled castes and tribes. Rural areas have been touched only marginally by higher education of quality. The facilities in colleges vary widely. It is important that courses in higher education offer programmes of study and courses closely related to life, aimed at the development of personality, reasoning and learning capabilities of students. The State has subsidised higher education very greatly. A college student pays by way of fees a very small amount of money. The rest of the expenses on his education is paid by the State or the Central Government. This is public money which must be carefully spent for those who deserve higher education.

As per report of Higher Education in India, the gross enrolment ratio increased from 0.7% in 1950-51 to 11% by 2006-2007. By 2012 (the end of 11th plan), it is expected to increase to 15%.


Adult Education:

Removal of adult illiteracy has also been accepted as an imperative goal, Adult education particularly in the age group of 15-35 years has been included as part of the minimum needs programme in the sixth plan. In this regard National Literacy Mission (NLM) objective is to impart functional literacy to 80 million illiterate persons. The literacy rate after independence in 1951 of 7+ population was 18.3% which increased in 2011 to 74.0 percent. The male literacy rate is 82.14% and female is 65.46%.


Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET):

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of technical education. India already has one of the largest reserviors of trained manpower. Technical and management curriculum was targeted on current as well as the projected needs of industry. Technically trained persons have already been a source of strength for scientific and industrial development. It is often suggested that talented engineering students are not provided the kind of jobs and work environment which would give them a sense of achievement and job satisfaction. This has resulted in a significant incidence of brain drain either to the developed countries or to the management stream. When brilliant young men and women, who are highly educated and talented, leave the country and go to a foreign country in search of better
income, it is called brain drain. There are several centres of excellence in technical and professional education in India like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIM).


National Education Policy:

Since independence, the Nation has invested a large part of its resources in education. It, therefore, has a right to expect the efficient functioning of educational institutions. The first National Education Policy of 1968 marked a significant step in the history of education in post-independence India. It aimed to promote national progress, a sense of common citizenship and culture, and to strengthen national integration. It laid stress on the need for a radical reconstruction of the education system, technology, the cultivation of moral values and a closer relation between education and the life of the people.

The new National Policy of Education (1986), was formulated on the strength of considerable achievements in the last few years. India already has extensive network of schools. Approximately 95% of the population is within one kilometre of a primary school and 80% is within three kilometres of a middle school. In accordance with the National Policy on Education (1986) a comprehensive programme ‘National Literacy Mission’ (NLM) has been started for imparting literacy amongst the 15-35 age group.

India has a large network of television and radio stations. The availability of a satellite and a television network covering a majority of the population is potentially one of the most significant factors, which can undoubtedly revolutionise the teaching – learning system by enriching formal education and by supporting non-formal education, as well as the distance learning programme.

The decision to set up pace setting Navodaya Vidyalayas in every district reflects not only the extent of central commitment to education but also its concern for equality for all in education. Through these schools the most meritorious children, particularly in rural areas, will be able to get quality education irrespective of the economic status of their parents.


Open and Distance Learning System:

There are many learners who are compelled to discontinue their studies in the formal system. This may be because of financial, geographical, academic or medical reasons. Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system is meant for such learners. In this system the learner can learn through lessons sent by the institutions of distance learning without attending classes. These students can keep themselves engaged in service or business while studying.

The learner is not in direct touch with the teacher. He is at a distance. Open School at present offers both secondary (Class X) and senior secondary (Class XII) education. You have joined Open School. You know that while retaining your regular employment, you are also studying through the lessons sent to you. These lessons have been prepared with a lot of care. The system is open because there is flexibility in terms of pace, place and time. You are free to select any combination of subjects and pass them at your convenience over a period of five years. Similar facility is being provided at higher level by the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

These institutions will go a long way in taking education to every Indian citizen who may not have been able to continue with the regular stream of education. Thus, education has developed at a rapid pace in India since independence. The national goals of development, integration, excellence and equality in the sphere of education can be fulfilled only when every child in the country crosses a minimum threshold of educational attainment. A holistic atmosphere of development, hard work and excellence has to be built up through a programme which involves everybody as a promoter as well as a recipient of new attitudes and ideas.



Right to Education Act:

The 86th Constitutional amendment, making education a fundamental right was passed by Parliament in 2002. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, a law to enable the implementation of the fundamental right, was passed by the Parliament in April 2010.

The law makes it obligatory on part of the state governments and local bodies to ensure that every child in the age group 6-14 gets free elementary education in a school in the neighbourhood. At present, there are nearly 22 crore children in the relevant age group. However, 4.6 per cent of these children (nearly 92 lakh) are out of school.

As per the Act, the school mangement committee or the local authority will identify the drop-outs or out of school children above six years of age and admit them in classes appropriate to their age after giving special training.


Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA):

RMSA is a centrally sponsored scheme for Universalisation of access to and improvement of quality education at Secondary stage was implemented during 11th five year plan period.

The goal of RMSA is to make secondary education of good quality available, accessible and affordable to all young students in the age group 15-16 years (classes IX and X). The major target of the scheme is

(i) Universal access of Secondary level education to all students in the age group 15-16 years by 2015 by providing a secondary school within 5 kilometers of any habitation and a higher secondary school within 7 kilometers of any habitation and

(ii) Universal retention by 2010.


Strategies for implementation of RMSA:

(i) To provide access of secondary school to students, following strategies have envisaged in the RMSA framework.

   (a) up gradation of upper primary schools through construction of classrooms laboratories, computer rooms, headmaster room, library rooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, appointment of additional teachers and

   (b) Strengthening of existing secondary schools through construction of classrooms, computer rooms, separate toilets for girls and boys, appointment of additional teachers, strengthening of lab facilities and repair and renovation of existing school buildings.

(ii) To remove disparity among the different social groups of people, the scheme envisages the special incentive for students belonging to SC/ST/minorities/other weaker sections of the society.

(iii) To improve the quality of RMSA scheme it has been proposed that following work should be carried out.

  • Construction of science lab, libraries
  • In service training of teachers
  • Leadership training of school head
  • Curricular reforms
  • Science and Maths education
  • Computer aided educaiton
  • Co-curricular activities
  • Teaching learning aids
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