To strengthen the Indian Education System, an educational policy was adopted by the Indian Parliament in 1968. Education was made an important and integral part of the national development efforts.
After independence there has been an effort to spread education to all levels of Indian society. Statistics point to the fact that a large percentage of children in age group 6-11 years have been enrolled in school. At some places, the enrollment rate is 90 percent.
However, to bring the remaining into the ambit of universal primary education is proving difficult because some reside in inaccessible areas, there is a deep rooted prejudice against educating girls there are practical difficulties of distance and inaccessibility of schools. Moreover, the dropout rate is so high that universal elementary education (UEE) is quite an elusive goal.
Since, education is important for the growth of developing nation like India, various steps have been devised to reduce the percentage of dropouts. Non-formal education to provide educational facilities for the drop-outs and to fulfill the desire for additional education in the grown-up-drop-outs is being given a new orientation to make it purposeful and to attract a broad spectrum of the drop-out population.
In Indian Education system, adult education programmes covers the age group 1-35 and has been vigorously implemented by the government with the cooperation of many voluntary agencies. Even then much has to be done to realize the target which is 100% coverage adults.
With regard to the pattern of secondary education experiments have been going on since Independence. The 10+2+3 system of education which was recommended by Kothari Commission of 1965 is now being implemented in almost all the States and Union Territories of India. This system (pattern) provides for two streams hi the higher secondary schools; the academic streams paving the way for higher education and the vocational stream of terminal nature. However, very few schools live been able to provide this terminal education. As result, schools with academic streams still abound, thereby defeating the very purpose of reducing the acute competition for college education. In many States education is free up to the lower secondary level, and in a few states education is free up to the higher secondary stage.
Higher education system in India is imparted through about 180 universities and neatly 4500 colleges. In addition there are several institutions imparting specialized knowledge and technical skills. Since education is a State subject. The State Governments in India are free to open new university. Grants Commission is an authority which dispenses grants to the universities. But its formal sanction is not necessary to open a university. Taking advantage of this provision many State governments in India have opened a large number of universities in recent years.
The tremendous increase in the number of students and of educational institutions has given rise to the term ‘education explosion’. No doubt, this has resulted in serious problems such as inadequacy of financial resources and infrastructure and dilution of personal attention to the education and character-formation of the students. Also there is the unwanted side-effect of enormous increase in the number of educated unemployed. However, we cannot overlook the advantages of education explosion in India. Mere increase in the percentage of literate people does not indicate a qualitative change in the educational standards of the people and a substantial improvement in manpower resources of India. Unemployment problem in India cannot be blamed on the availability of large masses educational people in India.
Uncertainty and vacillation have marked the government’s policy regarding the medium of education in India. Mahatma Gandhi wanted basic education to be imparted through the mother tongue. Bearing this in mind the Constitution provides that facilities for primary education in mother tongue should be provided to all Indian citizens and that, for this purpose, the Central Government may issue directives to the State Governments. Thus the requirements of linguistic minorities are properly attended to. Even before Independence, most of the students in schools had their education through the regional language/mother tongue.
While the government policy in this respect has not changed, a significant increase in the number of schools—primary and secondary—imparting education through the English medium is a significant development; thousands of nursery schools that have mushroomed since the last decade purport to impart education to Infants through English. This is an unwanted development which has been deprecated by educationalists and political leaders. Regarding the medium of instruction in colleges and universities, many State Governments have already decided, in principle, to switch over to the regional language. However the implementation in this respect has remained very slow. If regional languages are fully used for imparting college education, mobility from one region to another for the higher education in India will be seriously hampered. But continuing higher education through the English medium is disfavored by many politicians and some educationalists. The alternative of imparting college education through the Hindi medium throughout the country makes no sense. Thus, the Indian dilemma in respect of medium of education still continues.
There is a general feeling that the curricula adopted for different stages of education are substandard. This impression is not borne out by facts. The syllabus for irrelevant and various course in schools and colleges have been updated and upgraded. The NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) has set the right tone in this respect. Regarding recent changes in the curricula in schools and colleges, a mention may be made of the introduction of physical education and services like National Social Service (NSS) and National Cadet Crops (NCC) as part of the curriculum and of the inculcating of emotional national integration through teaching of Indian National Movement. Constant review of the syllabus and methods of teaching in the light of the innovations and methods adopted in advanced countries has certainly resulted in improved standards. This is not to say that the average standard of teaching and average proficiency of the students has improved a lot. The general educational standard has been diluted by decrease in the commitment of teachers and by the general decline in morality and standards of life. In many colleges and schools examination has become a farce and real assessment of the intellectual and other capabilities of the students is not done.
Work-oriented education system was advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and others. However, vocational education system in India has proved an up-hill task. The present pattern of 10+2+3 with a vocational stream has touched only the fringe of the problem. The fact is that people resent being taught crafts and traditional occupations in the school. However, the modern commercial education which imparts skills in typing, shorthand, reception and the like has met with better popular approval and demand. The core of the issue is whether education and employment should be de-linked. Such de-linking will have the great ‘merit’ of reducing attraction for college education. But de-linking or jobs from degrees and certificates is fraught with unforeseen dangers. In any case employment can be provided only on the basis of certain qualifications. If the qualifications are not to be determined by the universities and other conventional examining bodies, the same work will have to be done by the recruiting agency or somebody else. Besides, the scheme of not prescribing the bare minimum educational requirement for posts will pave the way for gradual erosion of standards necessary for different posts. As pointed out earlier, education is not to be blamed for the widespread unemployment In India.
In recent times new educational opportunities have been invented, one such being correspondence education system. Today virtually every university in India is offering correspondence courses for different degrees and diplomas. In fact correspondence education has opened new vistas for the educational system which could not successfully meet the challenging problem of providing infrastructure for multitudes of new entrants into the portals of higher education. The public demand for higher education was initially met through evening colleges; now correspondence education has come to the rescue of the worried education administrators. The latest innovation of ‘open university’ has also been introduced in India in the form of Nagarjuna University at Hyderabad. An open university imparts education only through correspondence; and, in this respect, is to be differentiated from the regular universities which take up correspondence education in addition to the college education. Correspondence education provides an important means for drop-outs to improve their qualification and, for the employed the means to improve education and service prospects. In course of time the glamour for college education may decline if correspondence education is made very effective. The Indira Gandhi National Open University has been created at a national level.