In ancient India the education system was the Vedic gurukul system. Many young boys of noble families were sent to sages in ashrams or hermitages in forests and spent their formative years in the company of these ascetics or sages learning languages, mathematics, sciences, philosophy, religious scriptures, warfare, courtly conduct and governance.
The teacher was the guru and required absolute obedience of the students. He was free to punish and reward them at his will and wish. The ashram was a place of simple living and every student, regardless of his high birth or rich family, had to complete his share of daily chores in the hermitage.
Only once his study was completed, was the student allowed to return home to his family and resume his normal life. This system has various advantages. In addition to teaching the students about different subjects, it taught them moral value like obedience, discipline, independence, humility and equality.
The British Rule and its Impact on Education in India
After the British began to rule India, the system of English education was introduced by the so that they could hire Indians as babus or clerks and make them do menial office jobs which included paper work written in English.
English was made compulsory in schools and slowly it became the master language as other Indian languages were given secondary position. This practice continues till today. This system has both advantages and disadvantages.
First of all Indian languages came to be ignored. Yet the natives learnt English very well and later used their knowledge of English as one method to achieve Independence.
Secondly this knowledge of English created a class barrier between the elite and non-elite Indians as English became an instrument of power and privilege.
Types of Schools
There are two kinds of schools in India today. On the one hand there are the rich, elite, privileged and private English medium schools affiliated to ICSE or CBSE Boards or even International Boards.
These cater to rich upper class students from affluent families. These are schools which usually charge exorbitant fees. Admission into such schools is very difficult and usually not accessible to the poor and under privileged. In these schools English is the first language and the medium of instruction.
Co-curricular activities, digital classrooms and activities are emphasized here along with formal education.
On the other hand are state run schools owned by the Governments of various states. These are mostly vernacular medium schools teaching the regional language as the first language with English being given second status.
Many of these schools are very poorly maintained. The buildings are broken, cracked, with poor toilet and sanitation facilities. Teachers are irregular and insincere; sometimes there are very few teachers especially in rural and backward areas.
The fees are very low and primary education is free. Sometimes under a Government welfare scheme students are given one major midday meal too. Such schools are affiliated to the state board of education and follow their syllabi and curriculum. Students from many poor families get admission into these schools and thus are not deprived of their Right to Education.
College Education in India
In India the majority of students aspire for college education after completing their secondary education. The maximum numbers of colleges are state-sponsored or state-aided colleges with only a few colleges being privately established.
Most colleges are affiliated to UGC (University Grants Commission) and receive grants and other aid for overall academic and infrastructural development. Fee structures of such colleges are affordable and traditional courses of B.A., B.Com. And B.Sc. is taught.
Each college is affiliated to some state university and its examinations conducted and degrees awarded are as per the rules of that university.
Privatization in Higher Education
After globalisation struck India, there has been a rush in establishment of private colleges and universities for technical education like Engineering, Management and Sciences. Many private colleges and universities are being established and being accredited to give equivalent and internationally recognised degrees to aspiring students.
There are many multi-disciplinary universities which offer degrees in subjects like agriculture, communication, fashion designing etc. They have tie-ups with foreign universities and often a dual degree can be obtained.
Such private institutions are expensive and not accessible by all. They use latest cutting-edge technology in their classrooms, latest teaching methods and have small groups of students to cater to.
Indian education today is a very dynamic phenomenon. It is changing very fast, developing rapidly and is being accepted globally. It is promoting research and critical thinking. It is embracing multi-disciplinary subjects.
It is trying to integrate the society with value based education combined with modern subjects needed to make breakthroughs and inventions.