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Education in India

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Education in India

Education in the Republic of India
Indian Department of Education
Ministry of Human Resource Development Smriti Zubin Irani
National education budget (2005–2012)
Budget 991 billion (US$16 billion)
General details
Primary languages Hindi, English, or State language
System type federal, state, private
Compulsory Education
1 April 2010
Literacy (2011[1])
Total 74%[2]
Male 82.2%
Female 65.5%
Enrollment (2011[3])
Total (N/A)
Primary 93%
Secondary 69%
Post secondary 25%
Secondary diploma 40%
Post-secondary diploma 7%

Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central, state, and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14.

India has made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three-quarters of the population in the 7-100 age group, by 2011.[4] India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to its economic development.[5] Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions.

At the primary and secondary level, India has a large private school system complementing the government run schools, with 29% of students receiving private education in the 6 to 14 age group.[6] Certain post-secondary technical schools are also private. The private education market in India had a revenue of US$450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market.[7]

As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5% of all rural children between the ages of 6-14 were enrolled in school. This is the fourth annual survey to report enrollment above 96%. Another report from 2013 stated that there were 229 million students enrolled in different accredited urban and rural schools of India, from Class I to XII, representing an increase of 2.3 million students over 2002 total enrollment, and a 19% increase in girl's enrollment.[8] While quantitatively India is inching closer to universal education, the quality of its education has been questioned particularly in its government run school system. Some of the reasons for the poor quality include absence of around 25 percent of teachers everyday.[9] States of India have introduced tests and education assessment system to identify and improve such schools.[10]

It is important to clarify that while there are private schools in India, they are highly regulated in terms of what they can teach, in what form they can operate (must be a non-profit to run any accredited educational institution) and all other aspects of operation. Hence, the differentiation of government schools and private schools can be misguiding.[11]

In India's education system, a significant number of seats are reserved under affirmative action policies for the historically disadvantaged Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. In universities, colleges, and similar institutions affiliated to the federal government, there is a minimum 50% of reservations applicable to these disadvantaged groups, at the state level it can vary. Maharashtra had 73% reservation in 2014, which is the highest percentage of reservations in India.

The University of Mumbai, established 1857, is one of the three oldest modern state universities in India.


  • Education system 1
    • Overview 1.1
    • Primary education 1.2
    • Secondary education 1.3
    • Private schools 1.4
    • Homeschooling 1.5
    • Higher education 1.6
    • Technical education 1.7
    • Open and distance learning 1.8
  • Quality 2
    • Literacy 2.1
    • Attainment 2.2
    • Public school workforce 2.3
    • Higher education 2.4
    • Vocational 2.5
  • Women's education 3
  • Rural education 4
    • Vocational education 4.1
    • Science education 4.2
  • Issues 5
    • Facilities 5.1
    • Curriculum issues 5.2
    • Accreditation 5.3
    • Employer training 5.4
  • Central government involvement 6
    • Initiatives 6.1
    • Budget 6.2
    • Public expenditure on education in India 6.3
    • Legislative framework 6.4
  • Historical 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Education system


Children lining up for school in Kochi.
A school bus in Indore

The central and most state boards uniformly follow the "10+2+3" pattern of education.[12]:3 In this pattern, study of 12 years is done in schools or in colleges,[12]:44 and then 3 years of undergraduate education for a bachelor's degree.[13] The first 10 years is further subdivided into 5 years of primary education, 3 years of upper primary, followed by 2 years of high school.[12]:5 This pattern originated from the recommendation of the Education Commission of 1964–66.[14]

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is the apex body for curriculum related matters for school education in India.[15] The NCERT provides support and technical assistance to a number of schools in India and oversees many aspects of enforcement of education policies.[16] Other curriculum bodies governing school education system are:

In addition, NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration)[17] and NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education) are responsible for the management of the education system and teacher accreditation.[18]

Primary education

The Indian government lays emphasis on primary education, also referred to as elementary education, to children aged 5 to 14 years old.[19] The Indian government has also banned child labor in order to ensure that the children do not enter unsafe working conditions.[19] However, both free education and the ban on child labour are difficult to enforce due to economic disparity and social conditions.[19] 80% of all recognized schools at the elementary stage are government run or supported, making it the largest provider of education in the country.[20]

School children, Mumbai

However, due to a shortage of resources and lack of political will, this system suffers from massive gaps including high pupil to teacher ratios, shortage of infrastructure and poor levels of teacher training. Figures released by the Indian government in 2011 show that there were 5,816,673 elementary school teachers in India.[21] As of March 2012 there were 2,127,000 secondary school teachers in India.[22] Education has also been made free[19] for children for 6 to 14 years of age or up to class VIII under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.[23]

There have been several efforts to enhance quality made by the government. The District Education Revitalization Programme (DERP) was launched in 1994 with an aim to universalize primary education in India by reforming and vitalizing the existing primary education system.[24] 85% of the DERP was funded by the central government and the remaining 15 percent was funded by the states.[24] The DERP, which had opened 160000 new schools including 84000 alternative education schools delivering alternative education to approximately 3.5 million children, was also supported by UNICEF and other international programmes.[24]

This primary education scheme has also shown a high Gross Enrollment Ratio of 93–95% for the last three years in some states.[24] Significant improvement in staffing and enrollment of girls has also been made as a part of this scheme.[24] The current scheme for universalization of Education for All is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which is one of the largest education initiatives in the world. Enrollment has been enhanced, but the levels of quality remain low.

Secondary education

Secondary school students
Senior School students in Punjab

Secondary education covers children aged 14 to 18, a group comprising 88.5 million children according to the Census, 2001. The final two years of secondary is often called Higher Secondary (HS), Senior Secondary, or simply the "+2" stage. The two halves of secondary education are each an important stage for which a pass certificate is needed, and thus are affiliated by central boards of education under HDR ministry, before one can pursue higher education, including college or professional courses.

UGC, NCERT and CBSE directives state qualifying ages for candidates who wish to take board exams. Those at least fifteen years old by the 30th of May for a given academic year are eligible to appear for Secondary board exams, and those seventeen by the same date are eligible to appear for Higher Secondary certificate board exams. It further states that upon successful completion of Higher Secondary, one can apply to higher education under UGC control such as Engineering, Medical, and Business Administration.

A significant feature of India's secondary school system is the emphasis on inclusion of the disadvantaged sections of the society. Professionals from established institutes are often called to support in vocational training. Another feature of India's secondary school system is its emphasis on profession based vocational training to help students attain skills for finding a vocation of his/her choosing.[25] A significant new feature has been the extension of SSA to secondary education in the form of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.[26]

A special Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) programme was started in 1974 with a focus on primary education.[15] but which was converted into Inclusive Education at Secondary Stage[27] Another notable special programme, the Kendriya Vidyalaya project, was started for the employees of the central government of India, who are distributed throughout the country. The government started the Kendriya Vidyalaya project in 1965 to provide uniform education in institutions following the same syllabus at the same pace regardless of the location to which the employee's family has been transferred.[15]

The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986, has provided for environment awareness, science and technology education, and introduction of traditional elements such as Yoga into the Indian secondary school system.[28]

Private schools

According to current estimates, 29% of Indian children are privately educated.[6] With more than 50% children enrolling in private schools in urban areas, the balance has already tilted towards private schooling in cities; and, even in rural areas, nearly 20% of the children in 2004-5 were enrolled in private schools.[29]

Most middle-class families send their children to private schools,[29] which might be in their own city or at distant boarding schools such as Rajkumar College, Rajkot, the oldest private school in India. At such schools, the medium of education is often English, but Hindi and/or the state's official language is also taught as a compulsory subject. Preschool education is mostly limited to organised neighbourhood nursery schools with some organised chains.

Many privately owned and managed schools carry the appellation "Public", such as the Delhi Public Schools, or Frank Anthony Public Schools. These are modeled after British public schools, which are a group of older, expensive and exclusive fee-paying private independent schools in England.

According to some research, private schools often provide superior results at a multiple of the unit cost of government schools.[30][31][32] However, others have suggested that private schools fail to provide education to the poorest families, a selective being only a fifth of the schools and have in the past ignored Court orders for their regulation.

In their favour, it has been pointed out that private schools cover the entire curriculum and offer extra-curricular activities such as science fairs, general knowledge, sports, music and drama.[33] The pupil teacher ratios are much better in private schools (1:31 to 1:37 for government schools) and more teachers in private schools are female. There is some disgreement over which system has better educated teachers. According to the latest DISE survey, the percentage of untrained teachers (parateachers) is 54.91% in private, compared to 44.88% in government schools and only 2.32% teachers in unaided schools receive inservice training compared to 43.44% for government schools. The competition in the school market is intense, yet most schools make profit.[33] However, the number of private schools in India is still low - the share of private institutions is 7% (with upper primary being 21% and secondary 32% - source : fortress team research). Even the poorest often go to private schools despite the fact that government schools are free. A study found that 65% of schoolchildren in Hyderabad's slums attend private schools.[32]


Homeschooling is legal in India, though it is the less explored option. The Indian Government's stance on the issue is that parents are free to teach their children at home, if they wish to and have the means. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has stated that despite the RTE Act of 2009, if someone decides not to send his/her children to school, the government would not interfere.[34]

Higher education

VESIT, Engineering College under Mumbai University
The social sciences and business management departments are housed at the Alipore campus, University of Calcutta in Kolkata

After passing the Higher Secondary Examination (the grade 12 examination), students may enroll in general degree programmes such as bachelor's degree in arts, commerce or science, or professional degree programmes such as engineering, law or medicine.[35] India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States.[36] The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission (India), which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state.[37] Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission.[38] In India, education system is reformed. In the future, India will be one of the largest education hubs.

As of 2012, India has 152[39] central universities, 316 state universities, and 191 private universities. Other institutions include 33,623[40] colleges, including 1,800 exclusive women's colleges, functioning under these universities and institutions,[37] and 12748 Institutions offering Diploma Courses. The emphasis in the tertiary level of education lies on science and technology.[41] Indian educational institutions by 2004 consisted of a large number of technology institutes.[42] Distance learning is also a feature of the Indian higher education system.[42] The Government has launched Rashtriya Uchchattar Shiksha Abhiyan to provide strategic funding to State higher and technical institutions. A total of 316 state public universities and 13,024 colleges will be covered under it.[43]

Some institutions of India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Science and University of Mumbai have been globally acclaimed for their standard of undergraduate education in engineering.[42][44] The IITs enroll about 10,000 students annually and the alumni have contributed to both the growth of the private sector and the public sectors of India.[45] However the IIT's have not had significant impact on fundamental scientific research and innovation. Several other institutes of fundamental research such as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Harishchandra Research Institute (HRI), are acclaimed for their standard of research in basic sciences and mathematics. However, India has failed to produce world class universities both in the private sector or the public sector.[46]

Besides top rated universities which provide highly competitive world class education to their pupils, India is also home to many universities which have been founded with the sole objective of making easy money. Regulatory authorities like UGC and AICTE have been trying very hard to extirpate the menace of private universities which are running courses without any affiliation or recognition. Indian Government has failed to check on these education shops, which are run by big businessmen & politicians. Many private colleges and universities do not fulfill the required criterion by the Government and central bodies (UGC, AICTE, MCI, BCI etc.) and take students for a ride. For example, many institutions in India continue to run unaccredited courses as there is no legislation strong enough to ensure legal action against them. Quality assurance mechanism has failed to stop misrepresentations and malpractices in higher education. At the same time regulatory bodies have been accused of corruption, specifically in the case of deemed-universities.[47] In this context of lack of solid quality assurance mechanism, institutions need to step-up and set higher standards of self-regulation.[48]

The Government of India is aware of the plight of higher education sector and has been trying to bring reforms, however, 15 bills are still awaiting discussion and approval in the Parliament.[50] One of the most talked about bill is Foreign Universities Bill, which is supposed to facilitate entry of foreign universities to establish campuses in India. The bill is still under discussion and even if it gets passed, its feasibility and effectiveness is questionable as it misses the context, diversity and segment of international foreign institutions interested in India.[51] One of the approaches to make internationalization of Indian higher education effective is to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy which aims at infusing excellence, bringing institutional diversity and aids in capacity building.[52]

Three Indian universities were listed in the Times Higher Education list of the world's top 200 universities — Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, and Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2005 and 2006.[53] Six Indian Institutes of Technology and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science – Pilani were listed among the top 20 science and technology schools in Asia by Asiaweek.[54] The Indian School of Business situated in Hyderabad was ranked number 12 in global MBA rankings by the Financial Times of London in 2010[55] while the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has been recognized as a global leader in medical research and treatment.[56] The University of Mumbai was ranked 41 among the Top 50 Engineering Schools of the world by America's news broadcasting firm Business Insider in 2012 and was the only university in the list from the five emerging BRICS nations viz Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.[57] It was ranked at 62 in the QS BRICS University rankings for 2013[58] and was India's 3rd best Multi Disciplinary University in the QS University ranking of Indian Universities after University of Calcutta and Delhi University.[59]

Technical education

Institute Main Building, IIT Kharagpur

From the first Five-year Plan onwards, India's emphasis was to develop a pool of scientifically inclined manpower.[60] India's National Policy on Education (NPE) provisioned for an apex body for regulation and development of higher technical education, which came into being as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 1987 through an act of the Indian parliament.[61] At the federal level, the Indian Institutes of Technology,the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology are deemed of national importance.[61]

The Indian Institutes of Technology are among the nation's premier education facilities.[61] Since 2002, Several Regional Engineering Colleges(RECs) have been converted into National Institutes of Technology giving them Institutes of National Importance status.

The Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology : The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOP&NG), Government of India set up the institute at Jais, Rae Bareli district, Uttar Pradesh through an Act of Parliament. RGIPT has been accorded "Institute of National Importance" along the lines of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT),Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and National Institute of Technology(NIT). With the status of a Deemed University, the institute awards degrees in its own right.

[61] The UGC has inter-university centres at a number of locations throughout India to promote common research, e.g. the Nuclear Science Centre at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.[62] Besides there are some British established colleges such as Harcourt Butler Technological Institute situated in Kanpur and King George Medical University situated in Lucknow which are important centre of higher education.

Central Universities such as Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi University, Mumbai University, University of Calcutta, etc. too are pioneers of technical education in the country.

In addition to above institutes, efforts towards the enhancement of technical education are supplemented by a number of recognized Professional Engineering Societies such as

  1. Institution of Mechanical Engineers (India)
  2. Institution of Engineers (India)
  3. Institution of Chemical Engineering (India)
  4. Institution of Electronics and Tele-Communication Engineers (India)
  5. Indian Institute of Metals
  6. Institution of Industrial Engineers (India)
  7. Institute of Town Planners (India)
  8. Indian Institute of Architects
  9. Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani

that conduct Engineering/Technical Examinations at different levels(Degree and diploma) for working professionals desirous of improving their technical qualifications.

In addition to recognized institutes for technical education there are many private technical institutes such as

  1. NIIT
  2. The Tourism School

The number of graduates coming out of technical colleges increased to over 700,000 in 2011 from 550,000 in FY 2010.[63][64] However, according to one study, 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates lack the skills needed in India's most demanding and high-growth global industries such as information technology.[65] These high tech global information technologies companies directly or indirectly employ about 2.3 million people, less than 1% of India's labor pool.[66] India offers one of the largest pool of technically skilled graduates in the world.

Vocational education

India's All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) reported, in 2013, that there are more than 4,599 vocational institutions that offer degrees, diploma and post-diploma in architecture, engineering, hotel management, infrastructure, pharmacy, technology, town services and others. There were 1.74 million students enrolled in these schools.[67] Total annual intake capacity for technical diplomas and degrees exceeded 3.4 million in 2012.

According to the University Grants Commission (UGC) total enrollment in Science, Medicine, Agriculture and Engineering crossed 6.5 million in 2010. The number of women choosing engineering has more than doubled since 2001.

Open and distance learning

At school level, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides opportunities for continuing education to those who missed completing school education. 1.4 million students are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level through open and distance learning. In 2012 Various state government also introduce "STATE OPEN SCHOOL" to provide distance education.[68]

At higher education level, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) co-ordinates distance learning. It has a cumulative enrolment of about 1.5 million, serviced through 53 regional centres and 1,400 study centres with 25,000 counsellors. The Distance Education Council (DEC), an authority of IGNOU is co-coordinating 13 State Open Universities and 119 institutions of correspondence courses in conventional universities. While distance education institutions have expanded at a very rapid rate, but most of these institutions need an up gradation in their standards and performance. There is a large proliferation of courses covered by distance mode without adequate infrastructure, both human and physical. There is a strong need to correct these imbalances.[69]

[70] Arjun Singh Centre for Distance and Open Learning, Jamia Millia Islamia University was established with the assistance of Distance Education Council in September 2002. Major objectives of the Centre is to provide opportunities for higher education to those who are not able to draw benefits from formal system of education. The Open Learning System allows a learner to determine his pace of learning and provides education at the doorstep of the learner. The mode of transaction is through self-learning print material, supplemented by audio and video programmes. It has further scope of students accessing material through internet and various other media.



According to the Census of 2011, "every person above the age of 7 years who can read and write with understanding in any language is said to be literate". According to this criterion, the 2011 survey holds the National Literacy Rate to be around 74.07%.[71] The youth literacy rate, measured within the age group of 15 to 24, is 81.1% (84.4% among males and 74.4% among females),[72] while 86% of boys and 72% of girls are literate in the 10-19 age group.[73]

Within the Indian states, Kerala has shown the highest literacy rates of 93% whereas Bihar averaged 63.8% literacy.[71] The 2001 statistics also indicated that the total number of 'absolute non-literates' in the country was 304 million.[71]


School children in Tamil Nadu

As of 2011, enrollment rates are 58% for pre-primary, 93% for primary, 69% for secondary, and 25% for tertiary education.[3]

Despite the high overall enrollment rate for primary education, among rural children of age 10, half could not read at a basic level, over 60% were unable to do division, and half dropped out by the age 14.[74]

In 2009, two states in India, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, participated in the international PISA exams which is administered once every three years to 15 year olds. Both states ranked at the bottom of the table, beating out only Kyrgyzstan in score, and falling 200 points (two standard deviations) below the average for OECD countries.[75] While in the immediate aftermath there was a short-lived controversy over the quality of primary education in India, ultimately India decided to not participate in PISA for 2012,[76] and again not to for 2015.[77]

While the quality of free, public education is in crisis, a majority of the urban poor have turned to private schools. In some urban cities, it is estimated as high as two-thirds of all students attend private institutions,[78] many of which charge a modest US$2 per month. There has not been any standardized assessment of how private schools perform, but it is generally accepted that they outperform public schools.

Public school workforce

Officially, the pupil to teacher ratio within the public school system for primary education is 35 : 1.[79] However, teacher absenteeism in India is exorbitant, with 25% never showing up for work.[80] The World Bank estimates the cost in salaries alone paid to such teachers who have never attended work is US$2 billion per year.[81]

Indian School-Girls

A study on teachers by Kremer etc. found out that 25% of public sector teachers and 40% of public sector medical workers were absent during the survey. Among teachers who were paid to teach, absence rates ranged from 15% in Maharashtra to 30% in Bihar. Only 1 in nearly 3000 public school head teachers had ever dismissed a teacher for repeated absence.[82] The same study found "only about half were teaching, during unannounced visits to a nationally representative sample of government primary schools in India."[82]

Higher education

As per Report of the Higher education in India, Issues Related to Expansion, Inclusiveness, Quality and Finance,[83] the access to higher education measured in term of gross enrollment ratio increased from 0.7% in 1950/51 to 1.4% in 1960–61. By 2006/7 the GER increased to about 11 percent. Notably, by 2012, it had crossed 20% (as mentioned in an earlier section).


An optimistic estimate is that only one in five job-seekers in India has ever had any sort of vocational training.[84] However, this figure is likely to be much higher in 2013.

Women's education

Girls in Kalleda Rural School, Andhra Pradesh.

Women have a much lower literacy rate than men. Far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out.[85] In the patriarchal setting of the Indian family, girls have lower status and fewer privileges than boy children.[86] Conservative cultural attitudes prevents some girls from attending school.[87]

The number of literate women among the female population of India was between 2–6% from the British Raj onwards to the formation of the Republic of India in 1947.[88] Concerted efforts led to improvement from 15.3% in 1961 to 28.5% in 1981.[88] By 2001 literacy for women had exceeded 50% of the overall female population, though these statistics were still very low compared to world standards and even male literacy within India.[89] Recently the Indian government has launched Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy. This mission aims to bring down female illiteracy by half of its present level.

Sita Anantha Raman outlines the progress of women's education in India:

Sita Anantha Raman also maintains that while the educated Indian women workforce maintains professionalism, the men outnumber them in most fields and, in some cases, receive higher income for the same positions.[90]

The education of women in India plays a significant role in improving livings standards in the country. A higher women literacy rate improves the quality of life both at home and outside of home, by encouraging and promoting education of children, especially female children, and in reducing the infant mortality rate. Several studies have shown that a lower level of women literacy rates results in higher levels of fertility and infant mortality, poorer nutrition, lower earning potential and the lack of an ability to make decisions within a household.[91] Women's lower educational levels is also shown to adversely affect the health and living conditions of children. A survey that was conducted in India showed results which support the fact that infant mortality rate was inversely related to female literacy rate and educational level.[92] The survey also suggests a correlation between education and economic growth.

In India, it was found that there is a large disparity between female literacy rates in different states.[93] For example, while Kerala actually has a female literacy rate of about 86 percent, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have female literacy rates around 55-60 percent. These values are further correlated with health levels of the Indians, where it was found that Kerala was the state with the lowest infant mortality rate while Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the states with the lowest life expectancies in India. Furthermore, the disparity of female literacy rates across rural and urban areas is also significant in India.[94] Out of the 24 states in India, 6 of them have female literacy rates of below 60 percent. The rural state Rajasthan has a female literacy rate of less than 12 percent.[95]

In India, higher education is defined as the education of an age group between 18 and 24, and is largely funded by the government. Despite women making up 24-50% of higher education enrollment, there is still a gender imbalance within higher education. Only one third of science students and 7% of engineering students, are women. In comparison however, over half the students studying education are women.[96]

Rural education

A primary school in a village in Madhya Pradesh

Following independence, India viewed education as an effective tool for bringing social change through community development.[97] The administrative control was effectively initiated in the 1950s, when, in 1952, the government grouped villages under a Community Development Block—an authority under national programme which could control education in up to 100 villages.[97] A Block Development Officer oversaw a geographical area of 150 square miles (390 km2) which could contain a population of as many as 70000 people.[97]

Setty and Ross elaborate on the role of such programmes, themselves divided further into individual-based, community based, or the Individual-cum-community-based, in which microscopic levels of development are overseen at village level by an appointed worker:

Despite some setbacks the rural education programmes continued throughout the 1950s, with support from private institutions.[98] A sizable network of rural education had been established by the time the Gandhigram Rural Institute was established and 5, 200 Community Development Blocks were established in India.[99] Nursery schools, elementary schools, secondary school, and schools for adult education for women were set up.[99]

The government continued to view rural education as an agenda that could be relatively free from bureaucratic backlog and general stagnation.[99] However, in some cases lack of financing balanced the gains made by rural education institutes of India.[100] Some ideas failed to find acceptability among India's poor and investments made by the government sometimes yielded little results.[100] Today, government rural schools remain poorly funded and understaffed. Several foundations, such as the Rural Development Foundation (Hyderabad), actively build high-quality rural schools, but the number of students served is small.

Education in rural India is valued differently from in an urban setting, with lower rates of completion. An imbalanced sex ratio exists within schools with eighteen percent of males earning a high school diploma compared with only ten percent of females. The estimated number of children who have never attended school in India is near 100 million which reflects the low completion levels. This is the largest concentration in the world of youth who haven't enrolled in school.[101][102][103][103]

Vocational education

The government of India is taking many positive steps to turn the education vocational and job oriented. Recently the duration of Graduation in Delhi University has been turned of 4 years from 3 years. Moreover government is taking lots of steps to promote small vocational institutes which provides job oriented courses like aviation related or travel & tourism related courses to name few examples.

Science education

Urban India has made very impressive progress to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century but rural school education in India is far behind. Due to the lack of adequate laboratories, the level of science education is not satisfactory. For last 25 years Vidnyan Vahini a not-for-profit organization has worked very effectively to reduce this gap as much as possible, at least at the educational level in Maharashtra. Vidnyanvahini, through its MSL (Mobile Science Lab), gives an opportunity to perform science experiments any where and every where. The experiments are chosen primarily from curriculum designed by Maharashtra State Board for 8th, 9th and 10th grade students.



A study of 188 government-run primary schools found that 59% of the schools had no drinking water and 89% had no toilets.[104] 2003–04 data by National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration revealed that only 3.5% of primary schools in Bihar and Chhattisgarh had toilets for girls. In Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, rates were 12–16%.[105] In fact, the number of secondary schools is almost half the number of upper primary schools available in the country.

Curriculum issues

Modern education in India is often criticized for being based on rote learning rather than problem solving. New Indian Express says that Indian Education system seems to be producing zombies since in most of the schools students seemed to be spending majority of their time in preparing for competitive exams rather than learning or playing.[106] BusinessWeek criticizes the Indian curriculum, saying it revolves around rote learning[107] and ExpressIndia suggests that students are focused on cramming.[108] Preschool for Child Rights states that almost 99% of preschools do not have any curriculum at all.[109]


In January 2010, the Government of India decided to withdraw Deemed university status from as many as 44 institutions. The Government claimed in its affidavit that academic considerations were not being kept in mind by the management of these institutions and that "they were being run as family fiefdoms".[110]

The University Grant Commission found 39 fake institutions operating in India.[111]

Employer training

Only 10% of manufacturers in India offer in-service training to their employees, compared with over 90% in China.[112]

Central government involvement


Non-formal education centre in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Educational programme by Seva Mandir, an NGO working for the development of the rural and tribal population in Udaipur and Rajsamand districts of southern Rajasthan
The madrasah of Jamia Masjid mosque in Srirangapatna.
Elementary School in Chittoor. This school is part of the 'Paathshaala' project. The school currently educates 70 students.

Following India's independence a number of rules were formulated for the backward Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of India, and in 1960 a list identifying 405 Scheduled Castes and 225 Scheduled Tribes was published by the central government.[113] An amendment was made to the list in 1975, which identified 841 Scheduled Castes and 510 Scheduled Tribes.[113] The total percentage of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes combined was found to be 22.5 percent with the Scheduled Castes accounting for 17 percent and the Scheduled Tribes accounting for the remaining 7.5 percent.[113] Following the report many Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes increasingly referred to themselves as Dalit, a Marathi language terminology used by B. R. Ambedkar which literally means "oppressed".[113]

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are provided for in many of India's educational programmes.[114] Special reservations are also provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India, e.g. a reservation of 15% in Kendriya Vidyalaya for Scheduled Castes and another reservation of 7.5% in Kendriya Vidyalaya for Scheduled Tribes.[114] Similar reservations are held by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in many schemes and educational facilities in India.[114] The remote and far-flung regions of North East India are provided for under the Non Lapsible Central pool of Resources (NLCPR) since 1998–1999.[115] The NLCPR aims to provide funds for infrastructure development in these remote areas.[115]

Women from remote, underdeveloped areas or from weaker social groups in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, fall under the Mahila Samakhya Scheme, initiated in 1989.[116] Apart from provisions for education this programme also aims to raise awareness by holding meetings and seminars at rural levels.[116] The government allowed 340 million (US$5.5 million) during 2007–08 to carry out this scheme over 83 districts including more than 21, 000 villages.[116]

Currently there are 68 Bal Bhavans and 10 Bal Kendra affiliated to the National Bal Bhavan.[117] The scheme involves educational and social activities and recognising children with a marked talent for a particular educational stream.[117] A number of programmes and activities are held under this scheme, which also involves cultural exchanges and participation in several international forums.[117]

India's minorities, especially the ones considered 'educationally backward' by the government, are provided for in the 1992 amendment of the Indian National Policy on Education (NPE).[118] The government initiated the Scheme of Area Intensive Programme for Educationally Backward Minorities and Scheme of Financial Assistance or Modernisation of Madarsa Education as part of its revised Programme of Action (1992).[118] Both these schemes were started nationwide by 1994.[118] In 2004 the Indian parliament passed an act which enabled minority education establishments to seek university affiliations if they passed the required norms.[118] Surprisingly, in the field of Sindhi language, (an 8th schedule language, which is prevalently spoken by the Sindhis of India who have no state of their own) government has not made any significant contribution. Sindhis are linguistic minority and most of the states have no Sindhi schools or schools with Sindhi language as an optional paper. Sindhis with around ten million population have less than 100 teachers in this language. Sindhi, basically draws its origin from Indus Valley civilsation. While the language has Indo-aryan origin, it is prevalently spoken in Pakistan and patronized by the Pakistan Government. Most of the Sindhi associations fear that due to apathy of Indian Government, Sindhi language and culture will only be a story for the future generations. Rajesh Thadani, President of Bihar Sindhi Association, which was constituted by the first Governor of Bihar, Jairamdas Doulatram, has started awareness compaign in this direction. This compaign has gathered momentum and it has started recognition worldwide.


As a part of the tenth Five year Plan (2002–2007), the central government of India outlined an expenditure of 65.6% of its total education budget of 438 billion (US$7.1 billion) i.e. 288 billion (US$4.7 billion) on elementary education; 9.9% i.e. 43.25 billion (US$700 million) on secondary education; 2.9% i.e. 12.5 billion (US$200 million) on adult education; 9.5% i.e. 41.765 billion (US$680 million) on higher education; 10.7% i.e. 47 billion (US$760 million) on technical education; and the remaining 1.4% i.e. 6.235 billion (US$100 million) on miscellaneous education schemes.[119]

Public expenditure on education in India

During the Financial Year 2011-12, the Central Government of India has allocated Rs 389.57 billion for the Department of School Education and Literacy which is the main department dealing with primary education in India. Within this allocation, major share of Rs 210 billion, is for the flagship programme 'Sarva Siksha Abhiyan'. However, budgetary allocation of Rs 210 billion is considered very low in view of the officially appointed Anil Bordia Committee recommendation of Rs 35,659 for the year 2011-12. This higher allocation was required to implement the recent legislation 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. In recent times, several major announcements were made for developing the poor state of affairs in education sector in India, the most notable ones being the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The announcements are; (a) To progressively increase expenditure on education to around 6 percent of GDP. (b) To support this increase in expenditure on education, and to increase the quality of education, there would be an imposition of an education cess over all central government taxes. (c) To ensure that no one is denied of education due to economic backwardness and poverty. (d) To make right to education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6–14 years. (e) To universalize education through its flagship programmes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Mid Day Meal.

However, even after five years of implementation of NCMP, not much progress has been seen on this front. Although the country targeted towards devoting 6% share of the GDP towards the educational sector, the performance has definitely fallen short of expectations. Expenditure on education has steadily risen from 0.64% of GDP in 1951-52 to 2.31% in 1970-71 and thereafter reached the peak of 4.26% in 2000-01. However, it declined to 3.49% in 2004-05. There is a definite need to step up again. As a proportion of total government expenditure, it has declined from around 11.1 per cent in 2000–2001 to around 9.98 per cent during UPA rule, even though ideally it should be around 20% of the total budget. A policy brief issued by [Network for Social Accountability (NSA)][120] titled "[NSA Response to Education Sector Interventions in Union Budget: UPA Rule and the Education Sector][121] " provides significant revelation to this fact. Due to a declining priority of education in the public policy paradigm in India, there has been an exponential growth in the private expenditure on education also. [As per the available information, the private out of pocket expenditure by the working class population for the education of their children in India has increased by around 1150 percent or around 12.5 times over the last decade].[122]

Legislative framework

Article 45, of the Constitution of India originally stated:

This article was a directive principle of state policy within India, effectively meaning that it was within a set of rules that were meant to be followed in spirit and the government could not be held to court if the actual letter was not followed.[124] However, the enforcement of this directive principle became a matter of debate since this principle held obvious emotive and practical value, and was legally the only directive principle within the Indian constitution to have a time limit.[124]

Following initiatives by the Supreme Court of India during the 1990s the Ninety-third amendment bill suggested three separate amendments to the Indian constitution:[125]

The constitution of India was amended to include a new article, 21A, which read:

Article 45 was proposed to be substituted by the article which read:

Another article, 51A, was to additionally have the clause:

The bill was passed unanimously in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, on 28 November 2001.[127] It was later passed by the upper house—the Rajya Sabha—on 14 May 2002.[127] After being signed by the President of India the Indian constitution was amended formally for the eighty sixth time and the bill came into effect.[127] Since then those between the age of 6–14 have a fundamental right to education.[128]

Article 46 of the Constitution of India holds that:

Other provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes can be found in Articles 330, 332, 335, 338–342.[71] Both the 5th and the 6th Schedules of the Constitution also make special provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.[71]


The remnants of the library of Nalanda University, built in the 5th century by Gupta kings. It was rebuilt twice after invasion, first after an invasion from the Huns in the 5th century and then after an invasion from the Gaudas in the 7th century, but abandoned after the third invasion by Turkic invaders in the 12th century.

Takshasila was the earliest recorded centre of higher learning in India from at least 5th century BCE and it is debatable whether it could be regarded a university or not. The Nalanda University was the oldest university-system of education in the world in the modern sense of university.[129]

Secular institutions cropped up along with Hindu temples, mutts and Buddhist monasteries. These institutions imparted practical education, e.g. medicine. A number of urban learning centres became increasingly visible from the period between 500 BCE to 400 CE.The important urban centres of learning were Taxila (in modern day Pakistan) and Nalanda in Bihar, among others. These institutions systematically imparted knowledge and attracted a number of foreign students to study topics such as Vedic and Buddhist literature, logic, grammar, etc. Chanakya, a Brahmin teacher, was among the most famous teachers of Takshasila, associated with founding of Mauryan Empire.

Brahmin gurus historically offered education by means of donations, rather than charging fees or the procurement of funds from students or their guardians. Later, temples also became centres of education; religious education was compulsory, but secular subjects were also taught. Students were required to be brahmacharis or celibates. The knowledge in these orders was often related to the tasks a section of the society had to perform. The priest class, the Brahmins, were imparted knowledge of religion, philosophy, and other ancillary branches while the warrior class, the Kshatriya, were trained in the various aspects of warfare. The business class, the Vaishya, were taught their trade and the working class of the Shudras was generally deprived of educational advantages. The book of laws, the Manusmriti, and the treatise on statecraft the Arthashastra were among the influential works of this era which reflect the outlook and understanding of the world at the time.

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External links

  • Official website
  • India Education Data
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