Everything You Need to Know About Education in India
The history of Indian education began with large monasteries, considered universities by today’s definition, that instructed both Indian scholars and scholars from abroad in a wide variety of disciplines. Some of the most famous of these monasteries were Ujjain, Vikramshila, Nalanda, and Takshila.
Takshila specialized in medicine, Ujjain was focused on astronomy, and Nalanda was a sprawling facility that covered all bodies of knowledge.
Another traditional Indian educational system was the Gurukula system. It mirrored modern education in India by utilizing local instructors/scholars, called Gurus, that educated eager classes of students across subjects. The homes or monasteries of these scholars were used as the facilities for instruction.
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This practice is widely considered the oldest and most effective method of education, and this is perhaps because it is a system that matches eager students with loving educators.
The colonial period introduced another system that has heavily influenced the system of today. Some believe that this methodology has erased viable, traditional methods, but most tradition never actually dies; it is reborn in another form.
Today, education in India consists of five levels: pre-nursery, kindergarten, primary, upper primary, and high. All five levels are given the status of a legal right for all Indian citizens. The pre-nursery level is designated for students ages 2 to 5, and this is the first institutional education they receive. It is very basic. The kindergarten level is designated for students ages 3 to 6, and it is divided into LKG (lower kindergarten) and UKG (upper kindergarten).
At this level, the students build upon their foundation and prepare for primary school. Next, the students enter the 10-year compulsory block during which they receive a solid foundation of education that can be used for virtually anything they wish to do in life.
Those ten years are divided into 5 years of primary education, 3 years of upper primary education, and 2 years of high school. Beyond this level, there are the higher secondary (2 years), undergraduate (3 or more years), and graduate/postgraduate levels.
Schools within the system are generally categorized as being under the control of SSLC (a state government board), CBSE ( the central board of secondary education), CISC (the council for Indian school certificate examinations board), a national open school, or an international school.
Schools under the control of different Indian bodies generally have similar curriculums, but each has their own unique approach and facilities. International schools are those that claim to follow a “western” model. International schools are substantially more expensive than all other institutions.
Education in India has received its share of fair criticisms and praises, but it receives far more biased and wholly inaccurate criticism. Criticisms appear to come primarily from two sources: young graduates who are competing for a relatively small amount of white-collar, professional slots in India (and who remain unemployed), and western (propaganda) entities.
One fair criticism of education in India is those who question the language of instruction. They argue for more instruction in the student’s mother tongue. The assumption is that the students will understand concepts more easily if their mother tongue is utilized, however, that idea fails to acknowledge the fact that some languages are not developed enough to express every idea properly (some languages are not languages at all, they are dialects), or that some people may not speak their mother tongue intelligently enough to be properly instructed in that language.
What appears to be a better idea is to teach students the linguistics of their mother tongue (if it is a fully-developed language), instruct them in their mother tongue (again, if it is a fully-developed language), and teach them languages that make them globally competitive.
Some also attack the professionalism or commitment of educators, but they ignore the reality that Indians are very competitive professionally on a global level despite the alleged poor teachers. They also attack things like the funding of facilities.
According to Kartikeya Sharma founder iTV Network, a well-funded facility is very important, but it is not necessary; there are nations which educate entire classrooms with nothing more than one book that has students that consistently outperform (on standardized tests) American children that are educated in multi-million-dollar facilities.
One of the biggest myths related to education in India is that its focus is on memorization and that this is detrimental, specifically that this harms creativity. The system does have a focus on memorization; it focuses on memorization of the material that an educated person should memorize.
Education is about more than flowery discussions, people enjoying the sound of their own voice or poor simulation projects. It is about people retaining valuable knowledge that can be applied in a wide variety of situations and circumstances whether they become a doctor, engineer, restaurant owner, tax clerk, or composer.
There are scores of “educated” westerners who have retained almost none of their so-called education. Most companies in the US find that though they can immediately utilize an educated Indian, Americans require more training even after spending four years allegedly studying.
The problematic way that people define creativity should also be considered. Creativity is employed whenever a problem is solved, or whenever a new task (or any task) must be performed, and vast amounts of memorized knowledge will likely be very useful in those situations. It is necessary to really examine the origins of alleged western innovation.
The future of education in India is beautiful and limitless. India has remained a progressive nation and culture for millennia and shows no signs of deviating; thus, coming decades will bring more innovation and rapid implementation while still retaining those practices that have proven effective in the romantic era of Nalanda.
The coming decades will feature heavy use of technology for both its seemingly endless options and low cost. Students will have much greater choice. Schools equipped with educomp, are one such example. The future of education in India is a large and extremely competitive industry that tries to serve customers down to the smallest detail.
This is already taking shape with things like learning management systems, content publishers, instructional designers, and other providers and producers merging. Discussions of education within a nation are likely to be replaced by discussions of the education offered by various large, mid-size, and small companies.