Education in India today is nothing like it was in Pre-Independence and Post-Independence Era. Education System in India today went through a lot of changes before it emerged in its present form. Present education system in India is also guided by different objectives and goals as compared to earlier time. Present system of education in India, however is based around the policies of yesteryears. After independence, it was on 29th August 1947, that a Department of Education under the Ministry of Human Resource Development was set up. At that time the mission was the quantitative spread of education facilities. After, 1960’s the efforts were more focussed to provide qualitative education facilities. The National Policy on Education was formulated in 1968. It was formulated to promote education amongst India’s people. During 1987-88, it was Operation Blackboard which aimed to improve primary education by providing at least 2 rooms, 2 teachers and essential teaching aids like blackboard, chalk, duster etc. In 1994, District Primary Education Program (DPEP) was launched. It focussed on universalization of primary education which made primary education accessible to each and every child of school going age; once a child was enrolled in school he/ she was to be retained there.

In 2001, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched. It is a Government of India flagship programme for achieving Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner. It also lays emphasis on girl education and education of Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) children and children with special needs. The Constitution (Eighty- sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.

Present Education in India

Education Departments in IndiaAt present the Ministry of Human Resources Development has Two Departments governing modern education in India.

1.  Department of School Education and Literacy – It looks after primary education in India, whether it is formal and non-formal.

2.  Department of Higher Education – It looks after secondary and post-secondary education in India. The department grants the status of ‘Deemed University’ status to educational institutions on the advice of the University Grants Commission of India

Levels or Stages of Education in India today

Education in India follows a uniform structure of school education which is known as the 10+2 system. This system is being followed by all Indian States and Union Territories. But not all of them follow a distinct pattern as per the system.

Therefore there are variations in:

  • Academic session
  • Age for admission to 1st class
  • Compulsory education
  • Medium of instruction
  • Number of classes constituting the primary, upper primary, high and higher secondary schools.
  • Stages of public examinations

Apart from the above mentioned there are other variations as well.

1. Pre Primary Stage – Pre primary education in India is that type of education which is given to children between 3–6 years. Students need to spend 2-3 years of learning before they can get primary education. Pre primary education is provided by Kindergarten, Playway or Play Schools. These schools have varying terminology for different levels of classes, beginning from – Pre-Nursery, Nursery, KG, LKG (Lower Kindergarten) and UKG (Upper Kindergarten). Most of the pre-primary education in India is provided by private schools.

2. The Primary Stage – Primary education in India is offered by both private and government schools. Studnets studying in Primary Schools in India are usually aged between 5 to 12 years. The duration of study in this stage is 4-5 years. Common subjects include English, Hindi, Mathematics, Environmental Science and General Knowledge. Sometimes also termed as Elementary Education, it is free in government schools but it is paid in the private schools. The Government has made elementary education compulsory for children between the age group of years 6 and 14. Most of the primary education provided by primary schools in India is imparted from class 1st to class 4th or 5th. Some of the states/UTs which follow 1st to 5th class of primary education are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi,  Karaikal and Yanam regions of Pondicherry etc. Some of the states/UTs which follow 1st to 4th classes of primary education are Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep and Mahe region of Pondicherry

3) The Middle Stage – Middle stage of education covers 3-4 years of academic study. It can be from 5th-8th class. The students in these classes are usually aged between 12 to 14 years. There are no separate schools for this stage of education. The schools which impart education up till 8th class are known with various names like – High School, Senior School. Some of the states/UTs which follow 5th -7th class of middle stage are Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep etc. Some of the states/UTs which follow 6th -8th class of middle stage are Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Delhi etc.

4) The Secondary Stage – Secondary Stage of education covers 2-3 years of academic study. Secondary Education in India starts with classes 8th-10th. The students studying in these classes are usually aged between 14-16 years. The schools which impart education up till 10th class are known as Secondary Schools, High Schools, Senior Schools etc. Some of the states/UTs which follow 8th -10th class of secondary stage are Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep etc. Some of the states/UTs which follow 9th -10th class of secondary stage are Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Delhi, Karaikal region of Pondicherry etc.

5) Senior Secondary Stage – Senior Secondary Education in India is of only 2 years. There is uniformity on this level of education in terms of duration and classes i.e. all the States/UTs follow this 10+2 pattern. Senior Secondary Schools in India include classes 11th to 12th. Students studying in these classes are generally aged between 16-18 years. At this level of education students have the freedom to choose their preferred stream and subjects. They can pursue Arts, Commerce, Science (medical & non medical). The schools which provide education up till 12th class are commonly known as Senior Secondary Schools or Higher Secondary Schools. Some universities and colleges also offer the education of these classes.

6) Undergraduate Stage – Undergraduate education in India is of 3-4 years. Undergraduate stage of education is also known as higher education in India. Students studying in this level, generally begin their education from 18 onwards. As per one estimate 88% of undergraduate education is provided by Colleges in India. Majority of the undergraduate courses of 3 years duration belong to field of arts, humanities, science etc. and majority of 4 years of duration belong to the field of agriculture, engineering, pharmaceutical sciences technology. However, there are courses belonging to fields of architecture, law and medicine whose duration is 5 years.

7) Postgraduate Stage – Postgraduate education in India is of 2-3 years. Postgraduate stages of courses are known as Masters courses or Doctorate courses.  Masters course are usually of 2 years duration and doctorate (research) courses are of 3 years duration. Also referred as higher education, 56% of post-graduate education is imparted through colleges. PG education in India is largely provided by universities in India. PG education caters largely to a specific field or sub field of any preferred discipline. Thus, one can specialise in any of preferred subjects at this level. Those who are interested in conducting large amount of research work pursue these courses.

Adult Education in India – Adult Education in India comes under the purview of the Department of School Education and Literacy. The Bureau of Adult Education and National Literacy Mission under the Department functions as the Secretariat of the National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA). National Literacy Mission was set up on 5th May,1988 to impart a new sense of urgency and seriousness to adult education. The General Council of the NLMA is headed by the Minister of Human Resource Development and the Executive Council is headed by the Secretary (Elementary Education and Literacy).The Directorate of Adult Education provides necessary technical and resource support to the NLMA.

Distance Education in India – Distance education provided by institutes is controlled by the Distance Education Council of India. Distance education is helpful to those who cannot join regular schools or colleges. At the school level, National Institute of Open Schooling offers education through distance learning. While, at the college or university level, Open universities provides distance education. Distance education can also be pursued online via internet. Some like the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) provides online education through – BITS Virtual University.

Homeschooling in India – Homeschooling isn’t widespread in India and neither it is widely accepted. This type of alternative education It is considered for handicapped or those who are unable to attend regular school due to various factors. As per the Indian law parents are free to teach their children at home, if they wish to and have the means. If parents or guardians decide not to send his/her children to school, the government will not interfere. While some use Montessori method, Unschooling, Radical Unschooling, Waldorf education or School-at-home. Others prefer CBSE, NIOS or NOS and IGCSE prescribed syllabus.

Education Governing Bodies of Present Education System in India

National Council of Educational Research and Training – NCERT is the apex body for curriculum related matters for school education in India. It assists and advises the Central and State Governments on academic matters related to school education. It also provides support and technical assistance to a number of schools in India and oversees many aspects of enforcement of education policies.

Central Board of Secondary Education – CBSE is another main governing body of education system in India. It comes under the purview of the Central Government. It is a Board of Education for public and private schools. The board conducts final examinations every spring for All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for Class 10 and 12. The board also annually conducts the AIEEE exam for admission to undergraduate courses in engineering and architecture in numerous colleges of India. It also conducts AIPMT – All India Pre medical Test for admission to major medical colleges in India.

Council of Indian School Certificate Examination – CISCE is a private, non-governmental board of school education in India. It conducts two examinations ‘Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) ‘ and ‘Indian School Certificate (ISC)‘. ICSE is an examination meant for those Indian students who have just completed their 10th class. ISC is a public examination conducted for those studying in 12th class.

State Government Education Boards – There are a number of state education boards in India. These are recognized by the Department of Higher Education. Some of the states have more than one School Education Board. These Boards conduct various types of examinations which vary from State to State but most of them conduct Middle Standard Examination, Senior Secondary Exam, Senior Secondary – Open School, Matriculation, Matriculation – Open School. These have been created to serve the education needs of the people at the state level. State board certification valued less as compared to the All India level Boards.

National Institute of Open Schooling Board – It is an educational board of national level established by the Government of India and the Ministry for Human Resource Development. This board meets the educational needs of students who cannot attend regular schools. It is also known as National Institute of Open Schooling or NIOS. Though anybody can appear for the board examinations, it is most suitable for sportspersons, physically handicapped, candidates suffering with chronic medical illness and those with learning disorders or other psychiatric conditions. It also caters to rural populace in an inexpensive manner.

International Schools – International schools in India are affiliated to the International Baccalaureate Programme and/or the Cambridge International Examinations. These schools provide education especially for children of International Personnel (diplomats etc.). These schools follow different examination systems and boards from that of the Indian Boards. However, these adhere to certain requirements of the Indian national system irrespective of the examination system adopted by them. Most of these schools follow the IB Board or the (International Baccalaureate).

Islamic Madrasa Education – Islamic Madrasah Education provides Islamic studies and literature learning as essentials. A school which provides Islamic education is generally known as a Madrassa,Madrasah, Madrasa, Madresa, etc. Most of the Madrasas of India follow the Hanafi thought. These schools are governed either by the state government, run autonomously or may be affiliated with the Darul Uloom Deoband, Sahranpur, Uttar Pradesh. The course of these schools include literature (urdu, arabic, persian etc.), knowledge of Yunani medicine, superficial and cursory knowledge of social sciences and science. Most of the muslim children acquire their primary and perhaps their only formal education through these schools.

University Grants Commission – UGC of India is a national body which coordinates and looks after the maintenance of standard of university education in India. It provides recognition to universities and provides funds for government-recognised universities and colleges. It has 6 regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore. It also conducts NET for the appointments of teachers in colleges and universities.

UGC has established 16 Autonomous Institutions which help in accreditation of institutes.

  1. AICTE – All India Council for Technical Education
  2. DEC – Distance Education Council
  3. ICAR – Indian Council of Agricultural Research
  4. BCI – Bar Council of India
  5. NCTE – National Council for Teacher Education
  6. RCI – Rehabilitation Council of India
  7. MCI – Medical Council of India
  8. PCI – Pharmacy Council of India
  9. INC – Indian Nursing Council
  10. DCI – Dental Council of India
  11. CCH – Central Council of Homoeopathy
  12. CCIM – Central Council of Indian Medicine
  13. Rehabilitation Council
  14. National Council for Rural Institutes
  15. State Councils of Higher Education
  16. Council of Architecture