UPSC Mains 2019: Indian education system needs an action plan make it at par with global standards

education policy


Topic: National Education Policy: Indian education system needs an action plan make it at par with global standards

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Society – Education

reforms in education


Recently a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of K Kasturirangan to formulate a new education policy.


More about on news:

  • “The committee for preparation of final draft of National Education Policy has been constituted under the chairmanship of eminent scientist Padma Vibhushan Dr K. Kasturirangan,”
  • The formal communication from the HRD ministry did not set a timeline for the new committee to submit a report.
  • The previous committee was constituted under the chairmanship of T.S.R. Subramanian, former cabinet secretary, by the government in 2015.
  • The Kasturirangan committee will supersede the Subramanian committee.
  • The Subramanian committee had advocated a new civil service cadre for the education sector, abolition of the University Grants Commission, continuation of a no-detention policy till Class V, and the teaching of English at the primary school level.
  • The Kasturirangan committee has been mandated to make Indian education contemporary, improve its quality, and internationalize it.
  • It could also provide a roadmap for the entry of foreign universities into India.
  • The ministry said the new committee would take into account the ground work done over last 30 months and inputs received from the Subramanian committee and start work with “immediate effect.”


The Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2017:

  • In India 125 million children between 14 and 18 years of age are ill-equipped to read, write or do even basic arithmetic.
  • It is revealing that the gender divide in intellect levels worsens with rise in age, as girls are often compelled to drop out of school for a variety of reasons.
  • In India 76 per cent of teenage girls have no access to the computer or internet, as against 49 per cent in the case of boys.
  • Boys expressed their wish to join the army or police, while girls wished to be teachers, gendered choice of careers remains the norm for society at large.
  • The report refers to a lack of interest in pursuing education in agriculture.
  • The situation calls for a shift in policy priorities, as pointed out by Economic Survey 2016-17.


History of Indian Education System:

  • The history of Indian education has its roots to the ancient ages where they followed the Gurukul system – a system where the students resided in the house of their teacher until the teacher felt that he has imparted all that he could.
  • The subjects taught varied from Sanskrit to Scriptures to Mathematics to Metaphysics and the knowledge attained would be passed on to the future generations.
  • However, this system was changed during the Colonial era when the British set up schools that followed a curriculum confined to subjects such as Mathematics, Science etc.
  • While the ancient system included more interaction with the nature, the modern system was more classroom oriented.


Latest trends in the Indian Education System

A typical Indian classroom is characterized by long hours of lectures by the teacher with very little focus of the student’s ability to comprehend. However, Indian Education system today is seeing many technology-driven innovations for students. Smartclass from Educomp is such an example. Smartclass is essentially a digital content library of curriculum-mapped, multimedia-rich, 3D content. It also enables teachers to quickly assess how much of a particular lesson students have been able to assimilate during the class. Once a topic is covered, the teacher gives the class a set of questions on a large screen. Each student then answers via a personal answering device or the smart assessment system. The teacher gets the scores right away and based on that, she repeats parts of the lesson that the students don’t appear to have grasped. Another example is the launch of YouTube channel Edu India, which is an Indian curriculum focused education channel. Some other players in this sector who have come up with innovative ideas in changing the education system are Everonn Education, NIIT, Core Education & Technologies, IL&FS, Compucom, HCL Infosystems, Learn Next, Tata Interactive Systems, Mexus Education, S. Chand Harcourt and iDiscoveri.


Why India needs a new education policy?

  • The 1986 National Policy on Education, as reviewed in 1992, has been the guiding document of the central government on the education sector for over two decades now. This was preceded by the National Policy on Education, 1968, the first post-Independence articulation of a national education policy. Indeed, even during the British period, the Wardha Education Scheme (Nai Talim of Mahatma Gandhi) had in 1938 worked out a ‘national policy’ and had recommended it for adoption by provincial governments. The CABE Committee’s 1944 Report on ‘Post-war plan for educational development in India’ (the Sargent Plan), sought to ‘Indianise’ education, universalise primary education and improve overall quality.
  • The 1986-’92 policy, though robust in concept and orientation, has not delivered acceptable outcomes in the education sector. Despite the stated priority and the launch of a plethora of programmes, the state of education in the country remains a weak spot in society. Most objectives and goals have not been realised, even partially, largely due to the absence of a workable roadmap and continuing operational guidance. More significantly, heavy politicisation at every level of operation from the village/block level, accompanied by ever-increasing corruption, permeating every aspect of educational administration, have been the prominent developments in the past three decades or so.
  • Education and public health are possibly the two most important development vectors in a democracy. The reality over the past decades is that these have not received a fraction of the importance and focus they deserve. The ground reality today, depressingly, is quite different from what was envisaged in the policy pronouncement.
  • While gross enrolment in schools as also in higher education institutions has gone up sharply, these have been accompanied by many undesirable new factors.
  • Even as infrastructure facilities in the school system have significantly improved, there has been little corresponding effect on the quality of instruction or learning.
  • The failure of government schools to provide education of minimal quality has triggered large-scale entry of private or ‘aided’ schools, even in rural areas, but even these have not produced significantly better outcomes.
  • While the Right to Education (RTE) Act has led to significant increase in enrolment, as also emphasis on infrastructure, new issues in the implementation phase have now arisen, which need to be addressed. In particular, the ‘No Detention Policy’ needs to be revisited, to ensure that it is optimally and judiciously implemented.
  • There is no clearly laid out policy in respect of private participation in the education system, both at the school and higher education levels. While there is scope for differential treatment of this issue in different states, the respective roles to be played by private and public players is not defined.
  • The quality of academic research, overall engagement and accomplishments in the field of research also leave much to be desired. Research and innovation are key to promoting a dynamic and vibrant academic scene. There is an imperative need to address this critical area, which can contribute so significantly to the economy.
  • In an aspirational society, parents naturally desire that their children get a ‘good education’. However, formally linking the development of skills in vocational fields, and bringing in an academic equivalence to vocational accomplishments, has not been seriously attempted.
  • This also means that the avenue for horizontal and vertical mobility has not been provided in adequate degree. Fostering dignity and social acceptability to quality vocational training are important tasks demanding urgent attention.


Quality of education:

  • A large number of children leave school before passing class eight. In 2013-14, the proportion of students who dropped out from classes 1-8 was 36% and from classes 1-10 was 47%.3 proportion of students who exited the school system in classes 1-8 in 2008-09 and 2013-14.
  • Among the population of children who stay in school, the quality or level of learning is low. The Economic Survey 2015-16 noted that the proportion of class 3 children able to solve simple two-digit subtraction problems fell from 26% in 2013 to 25% in 2014.  Similarly, the percentage of class two children who cannot recognize numbers up to 9 increased from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014.
  • To address the issue of learning levels in school going children, the draft Policy proposes that norms for learning outcomes should be developed and applied uniformly to both private and government schools. In addition, it also recommends that the existing no-detention policy (promoting all students of a class to the next class, regardless of academic performance) till class 8 be amended and limited to class 5.  At the upper primary stage (class six onward), the system of detention should be restored.


About New Education Policy Consultation

  • The National Policy on Education was framed in 1986 and modified in 1992. Since then several changes have taken place that calls for a revision of the Policy. The Government of India would like to bring out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.
  • For the first time, the Government of India is embarking on a time-bound grassroots consultative process, which will enable the Ministry of HRD to reach out to individuals across the country through over 2.75 lakh direct consultations while also taking input from citizens online.


Themes for new education Policy

  • Ensuring learning outcomes in Elementary Education.
  • Extending outreach of Secondary and Senior Secondary Education.
  • Strengthening of Vocational Education.
  • Reforming School Examination systems.
  • Re-vamping Teacher Education for Quality Teachers.
  • Accelerating rural literacy with special emphasis on Women, SCs, STs& Minorities through Adult Education and National Open Schooling Systems.
  • Promotion of Information and Communication Technology Systems in School and Adult Education.
  • New knowledge, pedagogies and approaches for teaching of Science, Math’s and Technology in School Education to improve learning outcomes of students.
  • School standards, School assessment and School Management systems.
  • Enabling Inclusive Education – education of SCs, STs, Girls, Minorities and children with special needs.
  • Promotion of Languages.
  • Comprehensive Education – Ethics, Physical Education, Arts & Crafts, Life Skills.
  • Focus on Child Health


Sample Question:

Q) Education and public health are possibly the two most important development vectors in a democracy. In this regard, Critically examine the current Indian education system and suggest the possible measures for strengthen Indian education system.