The academics of the past … which was little more than studying and scoring in examination … has evolved to a much more holistic approach. Will COVID-19 change the dynamics yet again?
The Education system in India had been subject to great criticism until recently when the Indian government decided to take things into their hands and make some long overdue changes … only to run slap bang into the coronavirus pandemic situation.
Here’s a look at what’s happened and what the future may hold…
From the Gurukulas to Patshalas to an organized system of education …. Indian education has come a long way from what it used to be … and we have patriots like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, and Rabindranath Tagore, to thank.
The structure of the school as we know it today began with the establishment of the first education board in Uttar Pradesh (a North Indian State) as far back as 1921. Today, India follows a 10+2 pattern of basic education with further / higher education in various fields varying from a further 3 to 5 years. A child enters the education system at approximately age 3 or 4 when he is enrolled into Lower Kinder Garten (LKG). LKG and Senior Kinder Garten (SKG) are considered pre-school which means official entry to school is at age 5 or 6.
The first 4 years from Standard (Grade) 1 to 4 – called primary education – are the formative years. Preparation for life skills begins from standard 5.
In most metros and big cities, there is one year of “education” called play-school or nursery which has primarily evolved from the need of parents to find a safe place for their toddler when they are at work. It also serves to familiarize the child with the concept and environment of a school, and begin developing social skills.
Play schools and nurseries have now evolved to Day Care Centers providing more than just a school environment.
A school may be privately run, government-funded, or trust-funded. Whatever the financial set-up, a school must be affiliated to an education board and adopt its prescribed curriculum.
There are 29 states and union territories in India and at 54 education boards in addition to 4 international boards.
The Indian Education system is governed by a central body called the NCERT (The National Council of Educational Research and Training) formed under the Central Government of India. This body formulates education policies for the country and provide guidance and support for the state education departments. State education departments govern the various boards.
That, in a nutshell, describes the structure of the education system in India.
The policy of education was first framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. Since then, there have been several significant changes in the policy with a view to making India a dynamic power house of knowledge. Most of these changes have been implemented in the recent years since 2012.
The most significant changes include –
Right to Education (RTE)
In India many parents are not financially stable and as such unable to send their wards to school. With a view to improving the level of literacy and affording aid to such parents, the Right to Education Act (RTE) was introduced in 2009. Although implementation was initially lax, it has now taken force and free education for girls, and underprivileged have been introduced.
Education of Women and Girls
Programs like the Saakshar Bharat and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan have been introduced to educate adults – particularly women – and girls. These initiatives have been enthusiastically taken up by private sector companies as a part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) campaign.
The RTE dictates that no student can be detained or failed until he or she reaches Grade 8. The objective of this rule was to encourage the under-performers and take into account untoward circumstances. However there are rumblings that this rule may be changed – primarily because many students are taking undue advantage of this rule.
Increase in Number of Schools
As of 2015 there were more than a million schools in India. This perhaps does not include schools that are not registered, NGOs and other bodies conducting informal education. The number of schools in India is now on the rise to accommodate the large student body.
Science and Technology
In an effort to dispel the rote learning system followed in most schools in India and with a view to providing gainful employment to those who are unable to pursue their academics for various reasons, the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) introduced skill based courses for those who wished to learn technical skills. The goal was to create a pool of skilled workers in the area of science and technology.
Education of the Future
With the advancement of technology, many new formats of education have evolved. While these are yet unfolding and evolving, we can visualize a new age of education where technology will make its way into the hands and homes of children. The COVID lockdown situation has already forced the hands of educators and decision makers. Many parents and children who quickly adapted to learning at home are now exploring homeschooling options.
Only time can show us the new face of the education system … but one thing we can say for sure is that change it will.
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