Strengths and Shortcomings of School Education in India

Strengths and Shortcomings of School Education in India

 

Strengths and Shortcomings of School Education in India is a very dynamic topic, which needs an overhaul to address. In this article, we will discuss the advantages of Indian education system and drawbacks of education system in India.

The Education System in India is one of the oldest education systems in the world. From the Vedic ages, the education system in India grew, spread, transformed and upgraded. India was one of the richest countries in the world both in education and in wealth till the 17th century. Later, India lost both of its quantity of wealth and quality of education due to foreign colonies and several wrong decisions taken by the then rulers in the Indian contingent. At the time of the independence of India from British rule, there was only a 12% literacy rate. Now, India has 74.04% literates in its population in 2021. Besides the achievements, the Indian education system has some drawbacks. 
Here, we will talk about the Strenth and the Shortcomings of the Indian Education System.

The School Education System in India

The Education System in Ancient India

India contains one of the oldest education systems in the world. The Rig Veda is still believed to be the earliest composition in the world and Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages. At that age, parents used to send their children to the house of the teacher or ‘Guru’, which were called the ‘Gurukul’. All of the four Vedas [Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda], Upanishads, Puranas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Vedangas etc. were the fruits of the education. Ramayana, the oldest epic in the world, and Mahabharata, the longest epic in the world were composed in the Vedic age. The learning process was focused on gathering knowledge towards enlightenment of oneself. Later, the scope of education spread vastly through Buddhism and Jainism. The Buddhist centres of education i.e., Taxila (Takshashila) University,  Nalanda University and Vikramshila University were world-famous in this period. Later, several famous authors and poets and their compositions proved the enrichment of the education system in Ancient India. Aryabhatta, Aswaghosh, Banbhatta, Chanakya, Charaka, Kalidasa, Katyayana, Panini, Patanjali, Shridhara, Susruta, Valmiki, Vararuchi, Varahamihira, Ved Vyasa, Yativrsabha and many more scholars and their works proved the strengths of education in India.

Advantages of Gurukul System of Education in Ancient India

The ‘Gurukul’ system of education was the foundation of the Indian style of education. Gurukul is an open school where students live along with their mentors in an environment where the students receive education, moral values and life skills. This methodology of learning is being practised since ancient India. Gurukul transcends mythological connotations.

Gurukul System of Education
  • The students of Gurukul are more disciplined and follows a well-planned schedule.
  • The gurukul students are properly trained through meditation which enables students to be more focused.
  • Students learn to respect and love people irrespective of their caste, ethnicity, culture and religion. 
  • The students possess stronger character and moral values.
  • Gurukul students are grown close to mother nature. So, they learn to worship and protect the environment.
  • Students are spiritually boosted which helps them to be more confident, calm and composed.
  • Gurukul precisely focuses on learning practical knowledge which is helpful to adapt in day to day life struggle.
  • Gurukul students learn follow the principle of ‘simple living and high thinking.

The Education System in Medieval India

At the dawn of the 8th  century, the Indian contingent had witnessed a large number of Muslim invasions. Many schools and libraries were under attack. From the beginning of the 13th century, The northern part of the Indian subcontinent was ruled by various Muslim rulers. Among them, the Mughal emperor, Akbar commenced some commendable works for education. During the Medieval period, Maktabs and Madrasas were centres of education. The Islamic religion was a compulsory topic for all students. Akbar stopped this tradition and started the study of Hindu religion and philosophy in many Madrasas. Vedanta, Jurisprudence and Patanjali were compulsory for the Sanskrit students. Astrology, Economics, Geography, History, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Political Science were introduced. Abul Fazal has written about the educational system introduced by Akbar in the famous book ‘Ain-e-Akbari’.

The Education System in Modern India

 Many foreign merchants have come to India. Portuguese were the first to come to India, but, the British ruled over the largest part of the Indian region. The British introduced English as a language to study to place a common language for communication for trading. During the 1820s, British education captured a strong ground in India through missionary schools. During the 1830s, Thomas Babington Macaulay introduced English as the medium of instruction for higher education in India. In 1854, Sir Charles Wood sent a Despatch to the then Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie known as ‘Wood’s Despatch’, which played an important role in introducing English learning as well as vernacular languages, and female education in India. Later, many schools and colleges were built to set up a modern education system in India.

Initiatives by the Government of India towards Education

  • After independence, a Radhakrishnan Committee was formed in 1948-49 that replaced Macaulay’s policies in the Indian education system.
  • Article 45 in Part IV of the Indian Constitution had mentioned that the government of India should provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years within 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution of India. However, being a directive principle, it was not enforceable by the courts. Now, there is scope for judicial intervention in
    this regard.
  • Later, when this goal was not achieved, Article 21A or Right to Education was introduced by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002. The amendment has made elementary education a fundamental right rather than a directive principle.
This amendment is a major milestone in the country’s aim to achieve ‘Education for All’. The government described this step as ‘the dawn of the second revolution in the chapter of citizens’ rights. This amendment changed the subject matter of Article 45 in directive principles. It now reads-‘The state shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years’. It also added a new fundamental duty under Article 51A that reads-‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age f six and fourteen years’.
  • The Indian government has launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to implement Article 21A, but its campaign was functional in 2000-2001. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was India’s primary programme for universalizing elementary education, launched under the leadership of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The goals of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan include universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social category gaps in education and enhancement of learning levels of children.
  • In the line with Article 21A, the Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. This Act provides every child has a right to be provided full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards. This legislation is anchored in the belief that the values of equality, social justice and democracy and the creation of a just and humane society can be achieved only through the provision of inclusive elementary education to all.
  • The most recent step taken by the Indian Government is the Implementation of the National Education Policy in 2020. The National Education Policy has been introduced after 34 years. It is the third education policy launched after 1968 and 1986. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi announced The National Education Policy 1968 based on the report and recommendations of the Kothari Commission (1964-1966). The National Education Policy in 1968 was a ‘radical restructuring‘ and brought an inclusive idea by providing equal educational opportunities to bring overall cultural and economic development across the nation.

If you want to read the Merits and Demerits of New Education Policy 2020, read the article below.

Advantage and Disadvantage of New Education Policy 2020

Advantages

  • The recent implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 has replaced the conventional educational system in India. It has restructured the school education system in the form of a 5+3+3+4 education system by replacing the 10+2 school education system. The 5+3+3+4 school education system is planned in this way:

1. Foundation Stage (5) – Playschool to Class 2 for multi-level playful learning

2. Preparatory Stage (3) – Class 3 to Class 5 for innovative active learning

3. Middle stage (3) – Class 6 to Class 8 for experimental and analytical learning

4. Secondary Stage (4) – Class 9 to Class 12 for multidisciplinary learning with greater analytical thinking

  • The National Education Policy 2020 has also included a school curriculum with coding and Vocational education and education in mother tongue and regional language in its school education policy.
  • National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education will be established by the NCERT for children of age up to 8 years.
  • A National Professional Standards for Teachers, National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) will be developed by the NCERT by 2022.
  • National Testing Agency (NTA) will serve as an expert and autonomous testing organisation which conduct a common entrance exam for colleges twice a year.
  • The National Research Foundation will be created to boost research capacity in higher education. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, at par with IITs, IIMs to be set up

Disadvantages

Although the National Education Policy 2020 is a progressive and forward-looking policy but still lacks a clear picture about the implementation. The mother tongue language issue still needs to be addressed. The education gap has been amplified in rural India due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Coordinated and convergent efforts are needed to ensure the smooth implementation of the National Education Policy. 

  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan was launched in March 2009 with the aim to enhance access to secondary education in addition to improve its quality. The scheme envisaged achieving an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06. The scheme also focused on improving the quality of education imparted at the secondary level by making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers, providing universal access to secondary level education by 2017.
  • National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education was launched in May 2008. The scheme aims to improve enrollment of girl children in the age group of 14-18 at the secondary stage, especially those who passed Class VIII.
  • Inclusive Education for Disabled at Secondary Stage was launched from the year 2009-10. This Scheme replaces the earlier scheme of Integrated Education for Disabled Children and provides assistance for the inclusive education of the disabled children in classes IX-XII. This scheme is now subsumed under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan from 2013
  • National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) includes the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education was launched in 1988, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Establishment of New Polytechnics and strengthening of Existing Polytechnics etc
What is the difference between Central Sector Schemes and Centrally Sponsored Schemes
What is the difference between Central Sector Schemes and Centrally Sponsored Schemes
  • The ‘National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme’ is a Central Sector Scheme launched in May 2008 to provide scholarships for meritorious students of classes IX to XII. The scheme can be availed on the National Scholarship Portal.
  • Government has announced Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative to ensure survival, protection and empowerment of the girl child through education. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched on 24 January 2015 on the occasion of National Girl Child Day with the tri-ministerial effort of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Now Ministry of Education).

The Current Scenario of the School Education System in India

The Education System in India has been enriched through several ups and downs in its past. Today, our school education system has a strong base towards the future of the welfare of the nation.

There are some indications of shortcomings in the educational system in India. The Switzerland-based Institute of Management Development (IMD) has placed India at 41st rank in 2016, 47th rank in 2017, 43rd rank in 2018, 68th in 2019 and 43rd rank in 2020 in its World Competitiveness Ranking of major economies. In 2021, India has again slipped to 59th position in education among 64 countries. The main reason behind this slippage is assumed our education system. The report also showed a steep increase in youth unemployment from 10.4% to 23.0% just in the last year and called the school curriculum “backwards” having a preference for regional languages over English, and learning languages instead of mathematics and sciences. In addition, India has ranked 64th in human development among 64 countries.

India's Ranking in World Competitiveness Ranking over the years
India’s Ranking in World Competitiveness Ranking over the years

India had ranked 35th on the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. India has improved its rank from 40th in 2018. This index is based on three categories – policy environment, teaching environment and overall socio-economic environment.

To have a watch over the school education system, NITI Aayog releases the School Education Quality Index to enhance education outcomes in States and Union Territories (UTs) through improvements in learning levels, access, equity, infrastructure and governance processes in four categories: Learning Outcomes, Access Outcomes, Infrastructure & Facilities for Outcomes, and Equity Outcomes.

Strengths and Shortcomings of School Education System in India

 

Let’s talk about Indian Education System Pros and Cons

Advantages of School Education System in India:

  • The Indian Education System has been propelled through a digital push in the post-pandemic time. As students are not allowed to attend school physically, they prefer to take lessons on various digital platforms.
  • Many people are finding the opportunity of teaching digital platforms. Hence a job opportunity has been created in the post-pandemic time.
  • There are many educational institutes in India that still follow the Gurukul style of education. The students of Gurukul are more disciplined and follows a well-planned schedule. Where the students are properly trained through meditation which enables students to be more focused. Students learn to respect and love people irrespective of their caste, ethnicity, culture and religion. Thus the traditional Indian education creates students with stronger character and moral values. 
  • Indian culture teaches to respect the teacher. The teacher-student bond is very essential in the learning process. Which is well-translated through the Indian education system.
  • Article 21A or the Right to Education was introduced by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which ensure to provide full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality to all children aged 6 to 14 years.

Disadvantages of School Education System in India:

  • The lack of well-trained teachers is one of the primary and basic flaws in the Indian education system. 
To address the issue of well-trained teachers in India, a programme was launched in 2019 by the Department of School Education and Literacy to improve learning outcomes at the Elementary level through an Integrated Teacher Training Programme called NISHTHA or National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha in 2019-20.
  • The digital divide in urban and rural areas is a big concern. The Covid-19 pandemic has even amplified the existing gap. The rural education system in India lacks basic infrastructure.
  • Physical training and sports should be a part of the school education system. Lesser spotlight on these activities has an impact on the children’s minds.
  • Sex Education should be instilled in the curricular activity in school.
  • There is lesser stress on character working.
  • Since most information is just remembered and not held for the since a long time ago run, understudies feel lost after school. Many even stay jobless.
  • Many schools charge extravagant fees, which curbs basic educational necessities for numerous children.
  • There is a lack of self-evaluation, which plays an important role in persistent learning.

Impact of COVID-19 on School Education System in India

The pandemic has exposed the un-preparedness of the Indian education system to deal with the emerging crisis. The pandemic has initiated the process of learning virtually, but virtual learning is limited to urban areas only and it has also posed a ban on extracurricular activities. 

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Ways Forward:

  • The availability of well-trained teachers and more schools, especially in remote rural areas in India is essential for quality school education in India.
  • Amalgamated ways to abridge digital technology with traditional education systems should be mandatory.
  • Conceptual learning with practical application in real life must be incorporated from the very early stages.
  • Course curriculum activities like sports, drawing, singing etc. need to be implemented to support the overall development of the school education system.
  • Students should be included in a comprehensive course of teamwork, leadership, collaboration, problem-solving, and time management skills from a very young age.
A study by economists in August 2021 revealed that 8% of students in rural areas had regular access to digital learning and 37% have completely left the education. It is also found that only a few students have access to smartphones, i.e 31% in urban areas and 10% in rural areas. But there is another crisis in rural areas, i.e network issue, the students can not access the coaching classes due to lack of a smooth network. So rural India is gone past 50 years and counting unless the issue is addressed immediately. And this crisis has remained neglected year after year, hence in-person teaching is an urgent need in rural areas.
  • The Central Government of India has set a target for the implementation of the National Education Policy by 2040. The National Education Policy 2020 aims to provide pre-primary school education to all children by 2025. NEP has made compulsory school education for all children of the age of 3-18 years by 2030. In addition, the government is slowly allocating sufficient funds to different directories to increase the reach of school education to all.

Conclusion: An immediate recalibration of the education system is the need of the hour. Education is the pillar that symbolises the strength of a country. But the pillar has been dismantled due to Covid-19 Pandemic. India has an enriched past in education and building human capital. Education has made us strong and built the glory of our nation. India needs to regain its glorious past by prioritising administrative strengthening. The Indian government should come with an empirical approach focussing on curtailing the digital divide and cultivating skills through education. In the coming years, the key priority of education policymakers should focus on ensuring that schooling isn’t just a platform for learning, but a ladder of opportunity.

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