Recent Changes in Education System in India
The education system in India has been criticized many times and in many ways in the past. This means that nothing has been done to improve the quality of Indian education. The problems of India are not exactly unique as the same issues are faced by similar societies and cultures across the globe. India, however, has received much attention because of having one of the biggest populations in the world.
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In the arena of economic development, everybody knows that human and intellectual resources are essential components. Ensuring that India’s population are intellectually prepared and aptly skilled to push India towards growth should be the priority of government and the other members of society.
Changes Brought About by the National Policy on Education (NPE)
Several revisions have been done on the National Policy on Education (NPE) from its first version under Indira Gandhi in 1968. Rajiv Gandhi’s NPE in 1986 recognized education’s importance in social change.
Among the recent changes in education system in India under the various NPE provisions in 1986 and 1987 are:
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education – Even in a developing country like India where resources are limited and parents are not financially prepared to send their children to school, the government is responsible for ensuring quality education for its young citizens.
As per Anand Mishra, CEO of Star Infranet , in 2012 reports indicated that 96.5% of children aged 6-14 years old in rural areas were enrolled in school. These children were mostly beneficiaries of government programs such as the District Primary Education Programme that has first experimented in Kerala.
Much work still has to be done in this area as the economic status of families is still a hindrance to having children stay in school. Even if there are no school fees to be paid, the matter of getting to school is an issue. There is also the matter of children being required to help out in the house so their parents can work.
- The establishment of learning facilities and occupational centres for women expansion of girls’ occupational centres – Literacy rates among women in India were historically low. With recent changes in the education system in India, the rates went up to over 50% at the start of the new millennium. In some states like Kerala, female literacy rates are as high as 86%.
Programs like the Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy and the National Literacy Mission were responsible for this positive change in Indian education. In Bihar, the government also introduced a program that gave free bikes to female students so they can go to school.
The problem of high dropout rates in secondary and higher education levels remain to be adequately addressed. The government has to be creative in thinking of ways to incentivize parents to keep their children in school and to reward students for staying in school.
- The increase of primary, secondary, and higher education institutions in rural areas – There are a total of about 1.4Mn schools in India today and rural communities already have schools within walking distance. The problem is that while there are a great number of schools, the quality of education in India leaves much to be desired. Rural schools built and founded by groups like the Rural Development Foundation in Hyderabad are only able to accommodate a limited number of students.
Alarming numbers were revealed by the 11th Education for All (EFA) Global monitoring report by UNESCO. The study reported that 90% of the rural poor children were assessed to still be illiterate even after they have studied in school for four years. This underscores the urgent need for quality education in India.
The children attending government rural schools are taught using outdated methods and materials. The quality of both the teachers and the teaching methods sorely needs the government’s attention. Training and retooling of teachers are necessary. This solution points back to the issue of funding. More of government’s funds should be spent for teacher training and development.
- The promotion of science and technology education with the establishment of the All India Council for Technical Education or the AICTE – The 1987 NPE revision was aimed at creating a manpower pool of scientifically inclined graduates. This pool was envisioned to provide a steady source of skilled manpower. The goal is to have about 500Mn skilled workers by 2022.
If the goal is to be achieved as planned, there needs to be a more concerted effort towards establishing training and research centres in India education where students can actually have hands-on experience. Students should not be confined to simply memorizing their lessons in rote learning, but rather exposed to learning while doing.
There should also be an emphasis on English language learning in early education in India. The reality is that most of the scientific and technical terms and concepts are in English. Students will not fully understand their lessons if they are not proficient in the language. One of the other recommendations is to have teachers write their own versions of the English textbooks using the local dialect.
- The setting up of inter-university centres to support research – Inter-university centres were set up to promote research including the Nuclear Science Centre at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Here’s another example of learning by doing in the new system of education in India.
According to Kartikeya Sharma, Managing Director of iTV Network, in these research facilities, students can gain knowledge and apply it to lab work. Rather than having to answer their examination papers by re-writing what’s in the lab manuals, the students’ understanding of the theories and concepts are tested in lab experiments and proven in research studies. In turn, the agencies and companies funding and running these research facilities gain from the results of testing and studies.
- The extension of programs for backward minorities and financial assistance for the poor – As per the Reservation Policy, 50% of the enrollment in public schools should be reserved for the poor and disadvantaged youth.
The programs for disadvantaged youth should not simply be limited to offering free tuition fees and other perks. If the poor are to benefit from the changes in the education system in India, the same resources and facilities in private learning institutions should be made available in public schools. It has been reiterated over and over again that the use of new technology and infrastructure in improving the quality of India education requires more than adequate funding both from the government and the private sector.
Programs for disadvantaged students should also include the development of intellectual resources. The government should explore ways to improve the compensation packages of teachers in rural schools. Upgrading their capacity by exposing them to continuous learning as well as providing technologically advanced teaching aids will uplift their morale and motivate them to persist in practicing their vocation.
There are a lot more changes that are needed in order to push Indian education to higher ground. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, many are optimistic about the coming changes in the education system in India. In the pipeline are more revisions to the NPE. Hopefully, these changes will include:
- better incentives for parents, students, and teachers;
- enhanced programs for female students and disadvantaged youth;
- improved quality of teachers and learning facilities;
- an introduction of more practical methodologies of teaching; and
- erasing the disparity between the quality of education in private schools and in public schools.