According to the Census of 2011, “every person above the age of 7 years who can read and write with understanding in any language is said to be literate”. According to this criterion, the 2011 survey holds the National Literacy Rate to be around 74.07%. The youth literacy rate, measured within the age group of 15 to 24, is 81.1% (84.4% among males and 74.4% among females), while 86% of boys and 72% of girls are literate in the 10-19 age group.
Within the Indian states, kerala has shown the highest literacy rates of 94.65% whereas Bihar averaged 63.8% literacy. The 2001 statistics also indicated that the total number of ‘absolute non-literates’ in the country was 304 million.
As of 2011, enrollment rates are 58% for pre-primary, 93% for primary, 69% for secondary, and 25% for tertiary education.
Despite the high overall enrollment rate for primary education, among rural children of age 10, half could not read at a basic level, over 60% were unable to do division, and half dropped out by the age 14.
In 2009, two states in India, Tamil Naduand Himachal Pradesh, participated in the international PISA exams which is administered once every three years to 15 year olds. Both states ranked at the bottom of the table, beating out onlyKyrgyzstan in score, and falling 200 points (two standard deviations) below the average for OECD countries.While in the immediate aftermath there was a short-lived controversy over the quality of primary education in India, ultimately India decided to not participate in PISA for 2012, and again not to for 2015.
While the quality of free, public education is in crisis, a majority of the urban poor have turned to private schools. In some urban cities, it is estimated as high as two-thirds of all students attend private institutions,many of which charge a modest US$2 per month. There has not been any standardized assessment of how private schools perform, but it is generally accepted that they outperform public schools.
Public school workforce
Officially, the pupil to teacher ratio within the public school system for primary education is 35 : 1. However, teacher absenteeism in India is exorbitant, with 25% never showing up for work. The World Bank estimates the cost in salaries alone paid to such teachers who have never attended work is US$2 billion per year.
A study on teachers by Kremer etc. found out that 25% of public sector teachers and 40% of public sector medical workers were absent during the survey. Among teachers who were paid to teach, absence rates ranged from 15% in Maharashtra to 30% in Bihar. Only 1 in nearly 3000 public school head teachers had ever dismissed a teacher for repeated absence. The same study found “only about half were teaching, during unannounced visits to a nationally representative sample of government primary schools in India.”
As per Report of the Higher education in India, Issues Related to Expansion, Inclusiveness, Quality and Finance,the access to higher education measured in term of gross enrollment ratio increased from 0.7% in 1950/51 to 1.4% in 1960–61. By 2006/7 the GER increased to about 11 percent. Notably, by 2012, it had crossed 20% (as mentioned in an earlier section).
An optimistic estimate is that only one in five job-seekers in India has ever had any sort of vocational training.However, this figure is likely to be much higher in 2013.
Women have a much lower literacy rate than men. Far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. In the patriarchal setting of the Indian family, girls have lower status and fewer privileges than boy children.Conservative cultural attitudes prevents some girls from attending school.
The number of literate women among the female population of India was between 2–6% from the British Raj onwards to the formation of the Republic of India in 1947. Concerted efforts led to improvement from 15.3% in 1961 to 28.5% in 1981. By 2001 literacy for women had exceeded 50% of the overall female population, though these statistics were still very low compared to world standards and even male literacy within India. Recently the Indian government has launchedSaakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy. This mission aims to bring down female illiteracy by half of its present level.
Sita Anantha Raman outlines the progress of women’s education in India:
Sita Anantha Raman also maintains that while the educated Indian women workforce maintains professionalism, the men outnumber them in most fields and, in some cases, receive higher income for the same positions.
The education of women in India plays a significant role in improving livings standards in the country. A higher women literacy rate improves the quality of life both at home and outside the home, by encouraging and promoting education of children, especially female children, and in reducing the infant mortality rate. Several studies have shown that a lower level of women literacy rates results in higher levels of fertility and infant mortality, poorer nutrition, lower earning potential and the lack of an ability to make decisions within a household. Women’s lower educational levels is also shown to adversely affect the health and living conditions of children. A survey that was conducted in India showed results which support the fact that infant mortality rate was inversely related to female literacy rate and educational level. The survey also suggests a correlation between education and economic growth.
In India, it was found that there is a large disparity between female literacy rates in different states. For example, while Kerala actually has a female literacy rate of about 86 percent, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have female literacy rates around 55-60 percent. These values are further correlated with health levels of the Indians, where it was found that Kerala was the state with the lowest infant mortality rate while Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the states with the lowest life expectancies in India. Furthermore, the disparity of female literacy rates across rural and urban areas is also significant in India. Out of the 24 states in India, 6 of them have female literacy rates of below 60 percent. The rural state Rajasthan has a female literacy rate of less than 12 percent.
In India, higher education is defined as the education of an age group between 18 and 24, and is largely funded by the government. Despite women making up 24-50% of higher education enrollment, there is still a gender imbalance within higher education. Only one third of science students and 7% of engineering students, are women. In comparison however, over half the students studying education are women.
A primary school in a village in Madhya Pradesh
Indian school children in Mizoram
Following independence, India viewed education as an effective tool for bringing social change through community development. The administrative control was effectively initiated in the 1950s, when, in 1952, the government grouped villages under a Community Development Block—an authority under national programme which could control education in up to 100 villages. A Block Development Officer oversaw a geographical area of 150 square miles (390 km2) which could contain a population of as many as 70000 people.
Setty and Ross elaborate on the role of such programmes, themselves divided further into individual-based, community based, or the Individual-cum-community-based, in which microscopic levels of development are overseen at village level by an appointed worker:
Despite some setbacks the rural education programmes continued throughout the 1950s, with support from private institutions. A sizable network of rural education had been established by the time the Gandhigram Rural Institute was established and 5, 200 Community Development Blocks were established in India. Nursery schools, elementary schools, secondary school, and schools for adult education for women were set up.
The government continued to view rural education as an agenda that could be relatively free from bureaucratic backlog and general stagnation. However, in some cases lack of financing balanced the gains made by rural education institutes of India. Some ideas failed to find acceptability among India’s poor and investments made by the government sometimes yielded little results. Today, government rural schools remain poorly funded and understaffed. Several foundations, such as the Rural Development Foundation(Hyderabad), actively build high-quality rural schools, but the number of students served is small.
Education in rural India is valued differently from in an urban setting, with lower rates of completion. An imbalanced sex ratio exists within schools with eighteen percent of males earning a high school diploma compared with only ten percent of females. The estimated number of children who have never attended school in India is near 100 million which reflects the low completion levels. This is the largest concentration in the world of youth who haven’t enrolled in school.
The government of India is taking many positive steps to turn the education vocational and job oriented. Recently the duration of Graduation in Delhi University has been turned of 4 years from 3 years. Moreover government is taking lots of steps to promote small vocational institutes which provides job oriented courses like aviation related or travel & tourism related courses to name few examples.
Urban India has made very impressive progress to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century but rural school education in India is far behind. Due to the lack of adequate laboratories, the level of science education is not satisfactory. For last 25 years Vidnyan Vahini a not-for-profit organization has worked very effectively to reduce this gap as much as possible, at least at the educational level in Maharashtra. Vidnyanvahini, through its MSL (Mobile Science Lab), gives an opportunity to perform science experiments any where and every where. The experiments are chosen primarily from curriculum designed by Maharashtra State Boardfor 8th, 9th and 10th grade students. The Science Garage in Hyderabad is another a hands-on science center that offers fundamental science programs and camps.
A study of 188 government-run primary schools found that 59% of the schools had no drinking water and 89% had no toilets. 2003–04 data by National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration revealed that only 3.5% of primary schools in Bihar andChhattisgarh had toilets for girls. InMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan andHimachal Pradesh, rates were 12–16%. In fact, the number of secondary schools is almost half the number of upper primary schools available in the country.
Modern education in India is often criticized for being based on rote learning rather than problem solving.New Indian Express says that Indian Education system seems to be producing zombies since in most of the schools students seemed to be spending majority of their time in preparing for competitive exams rather than learning or playing.BusinessWeek criticizes the Indian curriculum, saying it revolves around rote learning and ExpressIndiasuggests that students are focused on cramming. Preschool for Child Rightsstates that almost 99% of preschools do not have any curriculum at all.
In January 2010, the Government of India decided to withdraw Deemed university status from as many as 44 institutions. The Government claimed in its affidavit that academic considerations were not being kept in mind by the management of these institutions and that “they were being run as family fiefdoms”.
The University Grant Commission found 39 fake institutions operating in India.
Only 10% of manufacturers in India offer in-service training to their employees, compared with over 90% in China.
Central government involvement
Elementary School in Chittoor. This school is part of the ‘Paathshaala’ project. The school currently educates 70 students.
Following India’s independence a number of rules were formulated for the backward Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of India, and in 1960 a list identifying 405 Scheduled Castes and 225 Scheduled Tribes was published by the central government. An amendment was made to the list in 1975, which identified 841 Scheduled Castes and 510 Scheduled Tribes. The total percentage of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes combined was found to be 22.5 percent with the Scheduled Castes accounting for 17 percent and the Scheduled Tribes accounting for the remaining 7.5 percent. Following the report many Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes increasingly referred to themselves as Dalit, a Marathi language terminology used by B. R. Ambedkar which literally means “oppressed”.
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are provided for in many of India’s educational programmes.Special reservations are also provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in India, e.g. a reservation of 15% in Kendriya Vidyalaya for Scheduled Castes and another reservation of 7.5% in Kendriya Vidyalaya for Scheduled Tribes. Similar reservations are held by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in many schemes and educational facilities in India. The remote and far-flung regions of North East India are provided for under the Non Lapsible Central pool of Resources (NLCPR) since 1998–1999. The NLCPR aims to provide funds for infrastructure development in these remote areas.
Women from remote, underdeveloped areas or from weaker social groups inAndhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar,Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat,Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, fall under the Mahila Samakhya Scheme, initiated in 1989. Apart from provisions for education this programme also aims to raise awareness by holding meetings and seminars at rural levels. The government allowed₹340 million (US$5.4 million) during 2007–08 to carry out this scheme over 83 districts including more than 21, 000 villages.
Currently there are 68 Bal Bhavans and 10 Bal Kendra affiliated to the National Bal Bhavan. The scheme involves educational and social activities and recognising children with a marked talent for a particular educational stream. A number of programmes and activities are held under this scheme, which also involves cultural exchanges and participation in several international forums.
India’s minorities, especially the ones considered ‘educationally backward’ by the government, are provided for in the 1992 amendment of the Indian National Policy on Education (NPE). The government initiated the Scheme of Area Intensive Programme for Educationally Backward Minorities and Scheme of Financial Assistance or Modernisation of Madarsa Education as part of its revised Programme of Action (1992). Both these schemes were started nationwide by 1994. In 2004 the Indian parliament passed an act which enabled minority education establishments to seek university affiliations if they passed the required norms. Surprisingly, in the field of Sindhi language, (an 8th schedule language, which is prevalently spoken by the Sindhis of India who have no state of their own) government has not made any significant contribution. Sindhis are linguistic minority and most of the states have no Sindhi schools or schools with Sindhi language as an optional paper. Sindhis with around ten million population have less than 100 teachers in this language. Sindhi, basically draws its origin from Indus Valley civilsation. While the language has Indo-aryan origin, it is prevalently spoken in Pakistan and patronized by the Pakistan Government. Most of the Sindhi associations fear that due to apathy of Indian Government, Sindhi language and culture will only be a story for the future generations. Rajesh Thadani, President of Bihar Sindhi Association, which was constituted by the first Governor of Bihar, Jairamdas Doulatram, has started awareness compaign in this direction. This compaign has gathered momentum and it has started recognition worldwide.
As a part of the tenth Five year Plan(2002–2007), the central government of India outlined an expenditure of 65.6% of its total education budget of ₹438 billion(US$7.0 billion) i.e. ₹288 billion(US$4.6 billion) on elementary education; 9.9% i.e. ₹43.25 billion(US$690 million) on secondary education; 2.9% i.e. ₹12.5 billion(US$200 million) on adult education; 9.5% i.e. ₹41.765 billion (US$660 million) on higher education; 10.7% i.e.₹47 billion (US$750 million) on technical education; and the remaining 1.4% i.e.₹6.235 billion (US$99 million) on miscellaneous education schemes.
Public expenditure on education in India
During the Financial Year 2011-12, the Central Government of India has allocated Rs 389.57 billion for the Department of School Education and Literacy which is the main department dealing with primary education in India. Within this allocation, major share of Rs 210 billion, is for the flagship programme ‘Sarva Siksha Abhiyan’. However, budgetary allocation of Rs 210 billion is considered very low in view of the officially appointed Anil Bordia Committee recommendation of Rs 35,659 for the year 2011-12. This higher allocation was required to implement the recent legislation ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. In recent times, several major announcements were made for developing the poor state of affairs in education sector in India, the most notable ones being the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The announcements are; (a) To progressively increase expenditure on education to around 6 percent of GDP. (b) To support this increase in expenditure on education, and to increase the quality of education, there would be an imposition of an education cess over all central government taxes. (c) To ensure that no one is denied of education due to economic backwardness and poverty. (d) To make right to education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6–14 years. (e) To universalize education through its flagship programmes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Mid Day Meal.
However, even after five years of implementation of NCMP, not much progress has been seen on this front. Although the country targeted towards devoting 6% share of the GDP towards the educational sector, the performance has definitely fallen short of expectations. Expenditure on education has steadily risen from 0.64% of GDP in 1951-52 to 2.31% in 1970-71 and thereafter reached the peak of 4.26% in 2000-01. However, it declined to 3.49% in 2004-05. There is a definite need to step up again. As a proportion of total government expenditure, it has declined from around 11.1 per cent in 2000–2001 to around 9.98 per cent during UPA rule, even though ideally it should be around 20% of the total budget. A policy brief issued by [Network for Social Accountability (NSA)] titled “[NSA Response to Education Sector Interventions in Union Budget: UPA Rule and the Education Sector] ” provides significant revelation to this fact. Due to a declining priority of education in the public policy paradigm in India, there has been an exponential growth in the private expenditure on education also. [As per the available information, the private out of pocket expenditure by the working class population for the education of their children in India has increased by around 1150 percent or around 12.5 times over the last decade].
Article 45, of the Constitution of Indiaoriginally stated:
This article was a directive principle of state policy within India, effectively meaning that it was within a set of rules that were meant to be followed in spirit and the government could not be held to court if the actual letter was not followed. However, the enforcement of this directive principle became a matter of debate since this principle held obvious emotive and practical value, and was legally the only directive principle within the Indian constitution to have a time limit.
Following initiatives by the Supreme Court of India during the 1990s the Ninety-third amendment bill suggested three separate amendments to the Indian constitution:
The constitution of India was amended to include a new article, 21A, which read:
Article 45 was proposed to be substituted by the article which read:
Another article, 51A, was to additionally have the clause:
The bill was passed unanimously in theLok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, on 28 November 2001. It was later passed by the upper house—the Rajya Sabha—on 14 May 2002.After being signed by the President of India the Indian constitution was amended formally for the eighty sixth time and the bill came into effect.Since then those between the age of 6–14 have a fundamental right to education.
Article 46 of the Constitution of India holds that:
Other provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes can be found in Articles 330, 332, 335, 338–342. Both the 5th and the 6th Schedules of the Constitution also make special provisions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The remnants of the library of Nalanda
, built in the 5th century by Gupta kings
. It was rebuilt twice after invasion, first after an invasion from the Huns
in the 5th century and then after an invasion from theGaudas
in the 7th century, but abandoned after the third invasion by Turkic invaders
in the 12th century.
Takshasila was the earliest recorded centre of higher learning in India from at least 5th century BCE and it is debatable whether it could be regarded a university or not. Nalanda was the oldest university-system of education in the world in the modern sense of university.
Secular institutions cropped up along with Hindu temples, mutts and Buddhistmonasteries. These institutions imparted practical education, e.g. medicine. A number of urban learning centres became increasingly visible from the period between 500 BCE to 400 CE.The important urban centres of learning were Taxila (in modern dayPakistan) and Nalanda in Bihar, among others. These institutions systematically imparted knowledge and attracted a number of foreign students to study topics such as Vedic and Buddhist literature, logic, grammar, etc. Chanakya, a Brahmin teacher, was among the most famous teachers of Takshasila, associated with founding of Mauryan Empire.
Brahmin gurus historically offered education by means of donations, rather than charging fees or the procurement of funds from students or their guardians. Later, temples also became centres of education; religious education was compulsory, but secular subjects were also taught. Students were required to be brahmacharis or celibates. The knowledge in these orders was often related to the tasks a section of the society had to perform. The priest class, the Brahmins, were imparted knowledge of religion, philosophy, and other ancillary branches while the warrior class, the Kshatriya, were trained in the various aspects of warfare. The business class, the Vaishya, were taught their trade and the working class of theShudras was generally deprived of educational advantages. The book of laws, the Manusmriti, and the treatise on statecraft the Arthashastra were among the influential works of this era which reflect the outlook and understanding of the world at the time.