History of Education in India

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Published: 27th August 2010
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Up to the 17th century


The first millennium and the few centuries preceding it saw the flourishing of higher education at Nalanda, Takshila, Ujjain, & Vikramshila Universities. Art, Architecture, Painting, Logic, Grammar, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), Law, and Medicine were among the subjects taught and each university specialized in a particular field of study. Takshila specialized in the study of medicine, while Ujjain laid emphasis on astronomy. Nalanda, being the biggest centre, handled all branches of knowledge, and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak.


Education under British Rule


British records show that indigenous education was widespread in the 18th century, with a school for every temple, mosque or village in most regions of the country. The subjects taught included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Astronomy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Medical Science and Religion. The schools were attended by students representative of all classes of society.


The current system of education, with its western style and content, was introduced & funded by the British in the 20th century, following recommendations by Macaulay. Traditional structures were not recognized by the British govt and have been on the decline since. Gandhi is said to have described the traditional educational system as a beautiful tree that was destroyed during the British rule.


After Independence


After independence, education became the responsibility of the states. The Central Government's only obligation was to co-ordinate in technical and higher education and specify standards. This continued till 1976, when the education became a joint responsibility of the state and the Centre.


After 1976


In 1976, education was made a joint responsibility of the states and the Centre, through a consititutional amendment. The center is represented by Ministry of Human Resource Development's Deparment of Education and together with the states, it is jointly responsible for the formulation of education policy and planning.
NPE 1986 and revised PoA 1992 envisioned that free and compulsory education should be provided for all children up to 14 years of age before the commencement of 21st century. Government of India made a commitment that by 2000, 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be spent on education, out of which half would be spent on the Primary education.


In November 1998, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced setting up of Vidya Vahini Network to link up universities, UGC and CSIR.


Education in India - Recent Developments


The Indian Education System is generally marks-based. However, some experiments have been made to do away with the marks-based system which has lead to cases of depression and suicides among students. In 2005, the Kerala government introduced a grades-based system in the hope that it will help students to move away from the cut-throat competition and rote-learning and will be able to focus on creative aspects and personality development as well.


India is a developing nation and it has been expanding is every fields. Education saw an essential change gradually after Independence. Development of Education in India brought about a transformation and the concept of education got modified. Literacy rate has increased from around three percent in 1880 to around sixty five percent in 2001. All levels of education in India, from primary to higher education portray a challenge. India got well-known educational institutions such as the IITs, IISc, IIMs, NITs,AIIMS, ISI, JU, BITS, and ISB. The higher education system of India is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States.



Development of education in India regards that free and compulsory education should be provided to all children up to fourteen years of age before the commencement of 21st century. Moreover, the 86th Amendment of the Indian constitution makes education a fundamental right for all children aged 6-14 years. Education travelled a long way and thus Indian education system introduced certain advantageous system such as Online education In India. Online education is a system of education training which is delivered primarily via the Internet to students at remote locations. The Online courses may not be delivered in a synchronous manner. Online education enables the students to opt for many online degrees or online courses from various online universities. Thus online education encompasses various degrees and courses. This course has various advantages, as pursuing an online course can be done simultaneously with one's present occupation. Moreover, an online degree assists in increasing the career prospects



Non-formal education in India has become part of the international discourse on education policy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Non formal education refers to the learning process throughout life. In addition to that non-formal education is about acknowledging the importance of education, learning and training which takes place outside recognized educational institutions. There are four characteristics associated with non formal education system. This system is a proof for the Development of education in India as this system helps to focus on clearly defined purposes



Indian education has different phases. Students are provided with extensive scope and courses to choose from. One enjoys the opportunity of selecting the required field. The system of Distant Education in India is becoming increasingly popular. The students choosing distance learning process are benefited with the modern pattern followed. The availability of distance learning courses has assured that a person can pursue education from any state or university accordingly. Development of education in India ensures that all Indian citizens will receive education in spite of financial constrains or unavailability of colleges and schools.


University Education


This massive system of higher education in India constitutes of 342 universities (211 State, 18 Central, 95 deemed universities) 13 institutes of national importance, 17,000 colleges and 887 polytechnics. University Grant Commission (UGC), a national body, coordinates and looks after the maintenance of standard of university education in India. The university education in India starts with undergraduate courses. Depending upon the nature of course pursued its duration may vary from three to five and a half years.





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