Vision Document written on 18.11.2012
The aim of education is to deal with real life situations and make someone able enough to earn his livelihood. The system should teach someone to learn to acquire and update his knowledge so one can keep updating his skills and knowledge for the rest of his life.
Indian government has recently made Education a fundamental right for every child up to 6-14 years of age as planned in Surva Shiksa Abhiyan. I would like to teach primary and secondary education up to class 12 (age 18), but we cannot afford to do provide free education to every child including all girls in India up to 18 years. See http://business-standard.com/india/news/nitin-desai-right-to-principals/474528/ Nitin Desai: Right to principals, business-standard.com.
These studies are showing that we are doing much worse than expected with their plans for variety of reasons.
The total budgetary allocation for education is less than 4% of total budget and it does not appear that we can do so in coming 10 years or more. For budgetary and other reasons, the short cut will be to give the basic education up to 14 years (class 7 or 8) and after 14 years they can get trained in some profession they like for 2-8 years eg carpenter, Engineer & carry on that employment. Thus they can earn at earlier age for themselves and India. One advantage of this system would be that our youth would be able to do their profession at the age of 15-19 years or so, which will be a boon for a developing country like India and one can make the livelihood from that age. It will be much more affordable for the government and the parents;
The aim should be that every one could be employed to do some job and I hope this will increase the growth of India by 50% or more and it will be a worthwhile long term investment.
We obviously do not want to produce an army of educated, unemployed people. This produces frustration, wastage of time and resources. We do not want to teach them too little and too much- Just what is required to do his job. During job, updating and earning can go side by side.
One way India can be happy is to educate huge number their human capitals, so that they could be employed to do some job, possibly of their own choice. For this and other reason we need some changes in our education system.
I feel the Education system in India could be divided into two components:
a. Up to class 7, every student should be taught subjects are essential for every human being : 1. Computer including Words, Internet, Searching, 2. English language- Writing, Grammar, Speaking 3. EPH (Elementary Physiology and Hygiene),
4. & 5. There would be two subjects consisting of Mathematics- Addition, Subtractions, Multiplication, Division; Economics eg Teach children about money from the day they learn numbers and counting. Teach them about importance of saving and spending wisely. Personal banking, Duty of Indian citizens, Social Studies, Sciences, Geography, History, Value based education, environment. Pollution and how to prevent it, How to walk on roads, and a brief idea of other subjects etc.
6. Mother tongue language e.g. Hindi, Urdu, Bengali or South Indian Languages, where one does not have to pass an examination. Learning the local language will help one to communicate with local people of different age and background
English somehow or other is the international language. It is the language of USA, Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), Australia and Canada. English is the language of most commonwealth countries. Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language. However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world. It is the official language of 53 countries. Approximately 125 million people in India speak English.
Books for all advanced studies are available in English. For instance one can search a particular topic in Computer in any language, but articles in the English language will be many more times and knowing good English would be much more advantageous in searching. Unfortunately Indians do not have a common language and introducing English as a common language will help to unite India. One reason Indians have done well in foreign countries is because they have a good command over English language.
Computers now have become an integral part of our daily lives and it is impossible to separate our life from computers. Once someone learns to search a particular topic in computer, he will keep learning about other topics he is interested in. As technology is improving we can do more and more things with computers. Computers will play extremely vital role in present and future training.Only few days ago our president Mr Pranav Mukherjee has launched the much more improved version Aakash 2 tablet. It will be available to students at 50% subsidy rate of Rs 1130.It is likely that we may change in 5 to 10 years time depending on how we respond socially and politically to these needs and computer access will be vital. With increasing Computer assisted training and spreading internet access education could change dramatically. Once computer access is available, Khan Academy from US could be very useful. They provide free on line computer lessons.
EPH – I think most people in India don’t know about water borne disease and how to keep in good health. It will reduce diaorrheal illness and mortality. It will decrease Infant mortality rate. The student should be taught about human anatomy and physiology, food hygiene, cost effective local healthy food, how to keep healthy by exercise and sports (including practical). Depending on the age, sex education could be imparted. This will improve the health of general people, which is a major problem in India.
The school hours should be about 5 hours, which would allow ample time to study whatever the students want to study wiz Arts, Music, Literature etc, or whatever else they are interested in.
We need to get more teachers, computers, schools infrastructure including good cleaning and toilet facilities etc. The teacher job should be of a facilitator and accountable for student’s education.
2. At the age of 14 years, one may be taught for 2-7 years their chosen subjects, which will be their profession i.e. teacher, scientist, doctor, agriculture, Politician etc. Someone may not so and would want to start working soon. At this age there should be more emphasis and expert evaluation on what they want to do in future depending on their aptitude and interest. It may be difficult to decide at class 7 as what one wants to do in future and some one may take a break for one year or so and try to see where his interest lies. They should know the different jobs and should have some work experience of the job they seem to like under supervision of an expert. We would like to decide what they are best in, but it should not prevent them to change their profession at a later date, which I suppose should happen rarely.
There is a large group of students, who did not had a formal education or who have studied even up to acquiring graduation, but can not find a job. The former could be trained to become a carpenter or electrician job. There are many big car companies which may train them for free for their own job. They need to be made skilled. Those who have been educated may become an accountant or work in a call centre and such people need vocational training.
India has a potential to utilize 500 million more working people in coming decade. It is very important to provide that such people get appropriately trained and skilled to get these jobs. India can become a developed nation from developing one. We don’t have much time for this, otherwise unwittingly came demographic profile does not become counterproductive.
A normal person spends half of his waking life in doing his profession. His happiness and financial return very much depends whether he likes the job or not. Ideally one should do the profession if he wants to do it rather than just for money.
Let us cure some long term maladies which have always affected our education system. The approach should be practical and interactive and probably less of theoretical knowledge. The aim should be to understand the subject rather than cramming it and the evaluation should be planned accordingly. There should be monthly or regular evaluation, where students should be graded and not by given marks. The future evaluation should be on whatever practical things which have learned before.
All these subjects would be very much applied and we would find that students would be more interested in their subject and there would not be apathy to the subjects. We can bring back the “Fun of acquiring Knowledge.”
We should continue our “Mid day meal programme” to poor students which can provide free nutritious lunch, which may be extra incentive to attend the school
A student who has been trained with such system would be good in English, computer and specialized in their own branch and will have the option to work in lot of other countries in the world.
One problem in India is various curriculums in different systems- State Government Board, CBSC Board, ICSC board, NIOS board, Cambridge International Examination and other boards. This system at least up to age of 14 or so will be very similar all over India. They must teach the above subjects as the minimum. The advantage will be transfer between different parts of India or if one goes for higher exam a uniformity of the subjects for competitive examination will be maintained.
Education in India is a big topic and is of everyone concern. We shall keep writing the various issues, especially how we promote it in a cost effective way in India.
Dr Ajit Kumar Agrwal MD,
MRCP(UK),CCST(General Medicine & Geriatric Medicine)
Ex Consultant Physician in UK
Consultant Internist in Kolkata
"Indian education" redirects here. For other uses, see Indian school.
Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central, state and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14. The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5.
India has made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three-quarters of the population in the 7–10 age group, by 2011. India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to its economic development. Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions. While enrollment in higher education has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching a Gross Enrollment Ratio of 24% in 2013, there still remains a significant distance to catch up with tertiary education enrollment levels of developed nations, a challenge that will be necessary to overcome in order to continue to reap a demographic dividend from India's comparatively young population.
At the primary and secondary level, India has a large private school system complementing the government run schools, with 29% of students receiving private education in the 6 to 14 age group. Certain post-secondary technical schools are also private. The private education market in India had a revenue of US$450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2012, 96.5% of all rural children between the ages of 6-14 were enrolled in school. This is the fourth annual survey to report enrollment above 96%. Another report from 2013 stated that there were 22.9 crore students enrolled in different accredited urban and rural schools of India, from Class I to XII, representing an increase of 23 lakh students over 2002 total enrollment, and a 19% increase in girl's enrollment. While quantitatively India is inching closer to universal education, the quality of its education has been questioned particularly in its government run school system. Some of the reasons for the poor quality include absence of around 25% of teachers every day. States of India have introduced tests and education assessment system to identify and improve such schools.
It is important to clarify that while there are private schools in India, they are highly regulated in terms of what they can teach, in what form they can operate (must be a non-profit to run any accredited educational institution) and all other aspects of operation. Hence, the differentiation of government schools and private schools can be misleading.
In India's higher education system, a significant number of seats are reserved under affirmative action policies for the historically disadvantaged Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. In universities, colleges, and similar institutions affiliated to the federal government, there is a maximum 50% of reservations applicable to these disadvantaged groups, at the state level it can vary. Maharashtra had 73% reservation in 2014, which is the highest percentage of reservations in India.
See also: List of schools
The central and most state boards uniformly follow the "10+2+3" pattern of education.:3 In this pattern, study of 10 years is done in schools and 2 years in Junior colleges,:44 and then 3 years of graduation for a bachelor's degree. The first 10 years is further subdivided into 4 years of primary education, 6 years of High School followed by 2 years of Junior colleges.:5 This pattern originated from the recommendation of the Education Commission of 1964–66.
Education Policy is prepared by the Centre Government and State Governments at national and state levels respectively. The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986, has provided for environment awareness, science and technology education, and introduction of traditional elements such as Yoga into the Indian secondary school system. A significant feature of India's secondary school system is the emphasis on inclusion of the disadvantaged sections of the society. Professionals from established institutes are often called to support in vocational training. Another feature of India's secondary school system is its emphasis on profession based vocational training to help students attain skills for finding a vocation of his/her choosing. A significant new feature has been the extension of SSA to secondary education in the form of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.
Curriculum and School Education Boards
School boards set the curriculum, conduct board level exams mostly at 10th and 12th level to award the school diplomas. Exams at the remaining levels (also called standard, grade or class, denoting the years of schooling) are conducted by the schools.
- National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT): The NCERT is the apex body located at New Delhi, Capital City of India. It makes the curriculum related matters for school education across India. The NCERT provides support, guidance and technical assistance to a number of schools in India and oversees many aspects of enforcement of education policies. There are other curriculum bodies governing school education system specially at state level.
- State Government Boards of Education: Most of the state governments have at least one "State board of secondary school education". However, some states like Andhra Pradesh have more than one. Also the union territories do not have a board. Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Lakshadweep and Puducherry Lakshadweep share the services with a larger state. The boards set curriculum from Grades 1 to 12 and the curriculum varies from state to state and has more local appeal with examinations conducted in regional languages in addition to English - often considered less rigorous than central curriculums such as CBSE or ICSE/ISC. Most of these conduct exams at 10th and 12th level, and some even at conduct board level exams at 5th, 6th and 8th level.
- Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): The CBSE sets curriculum from Grades 1 to 12 and conducts examinations at the 10th and 12th standards that are called board exams. Students studying the CBSE Curriculum take the All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE) at the end of grade 10 and All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) at the end of grade 12. Examinations are offered in Hindi and English.
- Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE): CISCE sets curriculum from Grades 1 to 12 and conducts three examinations, namely, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE - Class/Grade 10); The Indian School Certificate (ISC - Class/Grade 12) and the Certificate in Vocational Education (CVE - Class/Grade 12). CISCE English level has been compared to UK's A-Levels; this board offers more choices of subjects. CBSE exams at grade 10 and 12 have often been compared with CICSE and ISC examinations. CICSE is generally considered to be more rigorous than the CBSE AISSE (grade 10) but the CBSE AISSCE and ISC examinations are almost on par with each other in most subjects with ISC including a slightly more rigorous English examination than the CBSE 12th grade examination. The CBSE and ISC are recognized internationally and most universities abroad accept the final results of CBSE and ISC exams for admissions purposes and as proof of completion of secondary school.
- National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS): The NIOS conducts two examinations, namely, Secondary Examination and Senior Secondary Examination (All India) and also some courses in Vocational Education. National Board of education is run by Government of India's HRD Ministry to provide education in rural areas and challenged groups in open and distance education mode. A pilot project started by CBSE to provide high class affordable education, provides education up to 12th standard. Choice of subjects is highly customisable and equivalent to CBSE. Home-schooled students usually take NIOS or international curriculum examinations as they are ineligible to write CBSE or ISC exams.
- Islamic Madrasah: Their boards are controlled by local state governments, or autonomous, or affiliated with Darul Uloom Deoband or Darul Uloom Nadwtul Ulama.
- Autonomous schools: Such as Woodstock School, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Puducherry, Patha Bhavan and Ananda Marga Gurukula.
- International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge International Examinations (CIB): These are generally private schools that have dual affiliation with one of the school education board of India as well as affiliated to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and/or the Cambridge International Examinations (CIB).
- International schools, which offer 10th and 12th standard examinations under the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Senior Secondary Examination systems or under their home nations school boards (such as run by foreign embassies or the expat communities).
- Special education: A special Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC) programme was started in 1974 with a focus on primary education. but which was converted into Inclusive Education at Secondary Stage
Midday Meal Nutrition Scheme
The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal programme of the Government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide, by suppling free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour. Serving 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, it is the largest such programme in the world.
See also: National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education and Centre for Teacher Accreditation
In addition, NUEPA (National University of Educational Planning and Administration) and NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education) are responsible for the management of the education system and teacher accreditation.
Levels of schooling
The pre-primary stage is the foundation of children's knowledge, skills and behaviour. On completion of pre-primary education, the children are sent to the primary stage but pre-primary education in India is not a fundamental right. In rural India, pre-primary schools are rarely available in small villages and urban areas on the contrary. But in cities and big towns, there are many established players in the pre-primary education sector. The demand for the preschools is growing considerably in the smaller towns and cities but still only 1% of the population under age 6 is enrolled in preschool education.
- Play group (pre-nursery): At play schools, children are exposed to a lot of basic learning activities that help them to get independent faster and develop their self-help qualities like eating food themselves, dressing up, and maintaining cleanliness. The age limit for admission into pre-nursery is 2 to 3 years. Anganwadi is government funded free rural childcare & mothercare nutrition and learning program also incorporating the free Midday Meal Scheme.
- Nursery: Nursery level activities help children unfold their talents, thus enabling them to sharpen their mental and physical abilities. The age limit for admission in nursery is 3 to 4 years.
- LKG: It is also called the Junior Kindergarten (Jr. kg) stage. The age limit for admission in LKG is 4 to 5 years.
- UKG: It is also called the Senior Kindergarten (Sr. kg) stage. The age limit for admission in UKG is 5 to 6 years.
LKG and UKG stages prepare and help children emotionally, mentally, socially and physically to grasp knowledge easily in the later stages of school and college life.  A systematic process of preschool education is followed in India to impart knowledge in the best possible way for better understanding of the young children. By following an easy and interesting curriculum, teachers strive hard to make the entire learning process enjoyable for the children.
The Indian government lays emphasis on primary education, also referred to as elementary education, to children aged 6 to 14 years old. Because education laws are given by the states, duration of primary school visit alters between the Indian states. The Indian government has also banned child labour in order to ensure that the children do not enter unsafe working conditions. However, both free education and the ban on child labour are difficult to enforce due to economic disparity and social conditions. 80% of all recognised schools at the elementary stage are government run or supported, making it the largest provider of education in the country.
However, due to a shortage of resources and lack of political will, this system suffers from massive gaps including high pupil to teacher ratios, shortage of infrastructure and poor levels of teacher training. Figures released by the Indian government in 2011 show that there were 5,816,673 elementary school teachers in India. As of March 2012 there were 2,127,000 secondary school teachers in India. Education has also been made free for children for 6 to 14 years of age or up to class VIII under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
There have been several efforts to enhance quality made by the government. The District Education Revitalisation Programme (DERP) was launched in 1994 with an aim to universalise primary education in India by reforming and vitalising the existing primary education system. 85% of the DERP was funded by the central government and the remaining 15% was funded by the states. The DERP, which had opened 1.6 lakh new schools including 84,000 alternative education schools delivering alternative education to approximately 35 lakh children, was also supported by UNICEF and other international programmes. In January 2016, Kerala became the 1st Indian state to achieve 100% primary education through its literacy programme Athulyam.
This primary education scheme has also shown a high Gross Enrollment Ratio of 93–95% for the last three years in some states. Significant improvement in staffing and enrollment of girls has also been made as a part of this scheme. The current scheme for universalisation of Education for All is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which is one of the largest education initiatives in the world. Enrollment has been enhanced, but the levels of quality remain low.
Secondary education covers children aged 12 to 18, a group comprising 8.85 crore children according to the 2001 Census of India. The final two years of secondary is often called Higher Secondary (HS), Senior Secondary, or simply the "+2" stage. The two halves of secondary education are each an important stage for which a pass certificate is needed, and thus are affiliated by central boards of education under HRD ministry, before one can pursue higher education, including college or professional courses.
UGC, NCERT, CBSE and ICSE directives state qualifying ages for candidates who wish to take board exams. Those at least 15 years old by 30 May for a given academic year are eligible to appear for Secondary board exams, and those 17 by the same date are eligible to appear for Higher Secondary certificate board exams. It further states that upon successful completion of Higher Secondary, one can apply to higher education under UGC control such as Engineering, Medical, and Business Administration.
Secondary education in India is examination-oriented and not course-based: students register for and take classes primarily to prepare for one of the centrally-administered examinations. Senior school or high school is split into 2 parts (grades 9-10 and grades 11-12) with a standardized nationwide examination at the end of grade 10 and grade 12 (usually informally referred to as "board exams"). Grade 10 examination results can be used for admission into grades 11-12 at a secondary school, pre-university program, or a vocational or technical school. Passing a grade 12 board examination leads to the granting of a secondary school completion diploma, which may be used for admission into vocational schools or universities in the country or the world. Most reputable universities in India require students to pass college-administered admissions tests in addition to passing a final secondary school examination for entry into a college or university. School grades are usually not sufficient for college admissions in India.
Most schools in India do not offer subject and scheduling flexibility due to budgeting constraints (for e.g.: most students in India are not allowed to take Chemistry and History in grades 11-12 because they are part of different "streams"). Private candidates (i.e. not studying in a school) are generally not allowed to register for and take board examinations but there are some exceptions such as NIOS.
10th (Matriculation or Secondary) Exam
Students taking the grade 10 examination usually take six subjects: English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, one language, and one optional subject depending on the availability of teachers at different schools. "Elective" or optional subjects often include Computer Applications, Economics, Physical Education, Commerce, and Environmental Science.
12th (Senior Secondary or Higher Secondary) Exam
Students taking the grade 12 examination usually take four or five subjects with English or the local language being compulsory. Students re-enrolling in most secondary schools after grade 10 have to make the choice of choosing a "core stream" in addition to English or the local language: Science (Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics), Commerce (Accounts, Commerce, and Economics), or Humanities (any three of History, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, Geography depending on school). Students study Mathematics up to single-variable Calculus in grade 12.
Types of schools
Majority of the students study in the government schools where poor and vulnerable students study for free until the age of 14. According to Education Ministry data, 65% (113 million,) of all school students in 20 states go to government schools (c. 2017). These include schools runs by the state and local government as well as the centre government. Example of large centre government run school systems are Kendriya Vidyalaya in urban areas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya for the gifted students, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya for girls belonging to vulnerable SC/ST/OBC classes, Indian Army Public Schools run by the Indian Army for the children of soldiers.
Kendriya Vidyalaya project, was started for the employees of the central government of India, who are deployed throughout the country. The government started the Kendriya Vidyalaya project in 1965 to provide uniform education in institutions following the same syllabus at the same pace regardless of the location to which the employee's family has been transferred.
Government aided private schools
These are usually charitable trust run schools that receive partial funding from the government. Largest system of aided schools is run by D.A.V. College Managing Committee.
Private schools (unaided)
According to current estimates, 29% of Indian children are privately educated. With more than 50% children enrolling in private schools in urban areas, the balance has already tilted towards private schooling in cities; and, even in rural areas, nearly 20% of the children in 2004-5 were enrolled in private schools.
Most middle-class families send their children to private schools, which might be in their own city or at distant boarding schools such as Rajkumar College, Rajkot, the oldest private school in India. At such schools, the medium of education is often English, but Hindi and/or the state's official language is also taught as a compulsory subject. Pre-school education is mostly limited to organised neighbourhood nursery schools with some organised chains.Montessori education is also popular, due to Maria Montessori's stay in India during World War II. In 2014, four of the top ten pre-schools in Chennai were Montessori.
Many privately owned and managed schools carry the appellation "Public", such as the Delhi Public Schools, or Frank Anthony Public Schools. These are modelled after British public schools, which are a group of older, expensive and exclusive fee-paying private independent schools in England.
According to some research, private schools often provide superior results at a multiple of the unit cost of government schools. The reason being high aims and better vision. However, others have suggested that private schools fail to provide education to the poorest families, a selective being only a fifth of the schools and have in the past ignored Court orders for their regulation.
In their favour, it has been pointed out that private schools cover the entire curriculum and offer extra-curricular activities such as science fairs, general knowledge, sports, music and drama. The pupil teacher ratios are much better in private schools (1:31 to 1:37 for government schools) and more teachers in private schools are female. There is some disagreement over which system has better educated teachers. According to the latest DISE survey, the percentage of untrained teachers (para-teachers) is 54.91% in private, compared to 44.88% in government schools and only 2.32% teachers in unaided schools receive in-service training compared to 43.44% for government schools. The competition in the school market is intense, yet most schools make profit. However, the number of private schools in India is still low - the share of private institutions is 7% (with upper primary being 21% secondary 32% - source: fortress team research). Even the poorest often go to private schools despite the fact that government schools are free. A study found that 65% school-children in Hyderabad's slums attend private schools.
As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC) listed India as having 410 international schools. ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation." This definition is used by publications including The Economist.
Home-schooling is legal in India, though it is the less explored option. The Indian Government's stance on the issue is that parents are free to teach their children at home, if they wish to and have the means.The then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has stated that despite the RTE Act of 2009, if someone decides not to send his/her children to school, the government would not interfere.
Main article: Higher education in India
Student may opt for vocation education or the university education.
India's All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) reported, in 2013, that there are more than 4,599 vocational institutions that offer degrees, diploma and post-diploma in architecture, engineering, hotel management, infrastructure, pharmacy, technology, town services and others. There were 17.4 lakh students enrolled in these schools. Total annual intake capacity for technical diplomas and degrees exceeded 34 lakh in 2012.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC) total enrollment in Science, Medicine, Agriculture and Engineering crossed 65 lakh in 2010. The number of women choosing engineering has more than doubled since 2001.
Main article: List of Indian institutions of higher education
After passing the Higher Secondary Examination (the Standard 12 examination), students may enrol in general degree programmes such as bachelor's degree (graduation) in arts, commerce or science, or professional degree programme such as engineering, law or medicine and become B. Sc., B. Com., and B. A. graduates. India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States. The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission (India) (UGC), which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state up to Post graduation and Doctorate (Ph.D). Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission.
As of 2012, India has 152 central universities, 316 state universities, and 191 private universities. Other institutions include 33,623 colleges, including 1,800 exclusive women's colleges, functioning under these universities and institutions, and 12,748 Institutions offering Diploma Courses. The emphasis in the tertiary level of education lies on science and technology. Indian educational institutions by 2004 consisted of a large number of technology institutes. Distance learning is also a feature of the Indian higher education system. The Government has launched Rashtriya Uchchattar Shiksha Abhiyan to provide strategic funding to State higher and technical institutions. A total of 316 state public universities and 13,024 colleges will be covered under it.
Some institutions of India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Science and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) have been globally acclaimed for their standard of under-graduate education in engineering. Several other institutes of fundamental research such as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) are also acclaimed for their standard of research in basic sciences and mathematics. However, India has failed to produce world class universities both in the private sector or the public sector.
Besides top rated universities which provide highly competitive world class education to their pupils, India is also home to many universities which have been founded with the sole objective of making easy money. Regulatory authorities like UGC and AICTE have been trying very hard to extirpate the menace of private universities which are running courses without any affiliation or recognition. Indian Government has failed to check on these education shops, which are run by big businessmen & politicians. Many private colleges and universities do not fulfil the required criterion by the Government and central bodies (UGC, AICTE, MCI, BCI etc.) and take students for a ride. For example, many institutions in India continue to run unaccredited courses as there is no legislation strong enough to ensure legal action against them. Quality assurance mechanisms have failed to stop misrepresentations and malpractices in higher education. At the same time regulatory bodies have been accused of corruption, specifically in the case of deemed-universities. In this context of lack of solid quality assurance mechanism, institutions need to step-up and set higher standards of self-regulation.
Our university system is, in many parts, in a state of disrepair...In almost half the districts in the country, higher education enrollments are abysmally low, almost two-third of our universities and 90 % of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters... I am concerned that in many states university appointments, including that of vice-chancellors, have been politicised and have become subject to caste and communal considerations, there are complaints of favouritism and corruption.
— Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007
The Government of India is aware of the plight of higher education sector and has been trying to bring reforms, however, 15 bills are still awaiting discussion and approval in the Parliament. One of the most talked about bill is Foreign Universities Bill, which is supposed to facilitate entry of foreign universities to establish campuses in India. The bill is still under discussion and even if it gets passed, its feasibility and effectiveness is questionable as it misses the context, diversity and segment of international foreign institutions interested in India. One of the approaches to make internationalisation of Indian higher education effective is to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy which aims at infusing excellence, bringing institutional diversity and aids in capacity building.
Three Indian universities were listed in the Times Higher Education list of the world's top 200 universities — Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, and Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2005 and 2006. Six Indian Institutes of Technology and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science—Pilani were listed among the top 20 science and technology schools in Asia by Asiaweek. The Indian School of Business situated in Hyderabad was ranked number 12 in global MBA rankings by the Financial Times of London in 2010 while the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has been recognised as a global leader in medical research and treatment. The University of Mumbai was ranked 41 among the Top 50 Engineering Schools of the world by America's news broadcasting firm Business Insider in 2012 and was the only university in the list from the five emerging BRICS nations viz Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was ranked at 62 in the QS BRICS University rankings for 2013 and was India's 3rd best Multi-Disciplinary University in the QS University ranking of Indian Universities after University of Calcutta and Delhi University.Loyola College, Chennai is one of the best ranked arts and science college in India with the UGC award of College of Excellence tag.
From the first Five-year Plan onwards, India's emphasis was to develop a pool of scientifically inclined manpower. India's National Policy on Education (NPE) provisioned for an apex body for regulation and development of higher technical education, which came into being as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 1987 through an act of the Indian parliament. At the federal level, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology are deemed of national importance.
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are among the nation's premier education facilities.
 The UGC has inter-university centres at a number of locations throughout India to promote common research, e.g. the Nuclear Science Centre at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Besides there are some British established colleges such as Harcourt Butler Technological Institute situated in Kanpur and King George Medical University situated in Lucknow which are important centre of higher education.
Central Universities such as Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi University, Mumbai University, University of Calcutta, etc. too are pioneers of technical education in the country.
In addition to above institutes, efforts towards the enhancement of technical education are supplemented by a number of recognised Professional Engineering Societies such as:
- Institution of Engineers (India)
- Institution of Civil Engineers (India)
- Institution of Mechanical Engineers (India)
- Institution of Chemical Engineering (India)
- Institution of Electronics and Tele-Communication Engineers (India)
- Indian Institute of Metals
- Institution of Industrial Engineers (India)
- Institute of Town Planners (India)
- Indian Institute of Architects
that conduct Engineering/Technical Examinations at different levels (Degree and diploma) for working professionals desirous of improving their technical qualifications.
The number of graduates coming out of technical colleges increased to over 7 lakh in 2011 from 5.5 lakh in FY 2010. However, according to one study, 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates lack the skills needed in India's most demanding and high-growth global industries such as Information Technology. These high-tech global information technologies companies directly or indirectly employ about 23 lakh people, less than 1% of India's labour pool. India offers one of the largest pool of technically skilled graduates in the world. Given the sheer numbers of students seeking education in engineering, science and mathematics, India faces daunting challenges in scaling up capacity while maintaining quality.
Open and distance learning
At the school level, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides opportunities for continuing education to those who missed completing school education. 14 lakh students are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level through open and distance learning. In 2012 Various state governments also introduced "STATE OPEN SCHOOL" to provide distance education.
At higher education level, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) co-ordinates distance learning. It has a cumulative enrollment of about 15 lakh, serviced through 53 regional centres and 1,400 study centres with 25,000 counselors. The Distance Education Council (DEC), an authority of IGNOU is co-coordinating 13 State Open Universities and 119 institutions of correspondence courses in conventional universities. While distance education institutions have expanded at a very rapid rate, but most of these institutions need an up gradation in their standards and performance. There is a large proliferation of courses covered by distance mode without adequate infrastructure, both human and physical. There is a strong need to correct these imbalances.
Massive open online course are made available for free by the HRD ministry and various educational institutes.
Extracurricular activities include sports, arts, National Service Scheme, National Cadet Corps, The Bharat Scouts and Guides, etc.
Main article: Literacy in India
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 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 the highest literacy rate of 94.65% whereas Bihar averaged 63.8% literacy. The 2001 statistics indicated that the total number of 'absolute non-literates' in the country was 304 million. Gender gap in literacy rate is high, for example in Rajasthan, the state with the lowest female literacy rate in India, average female literacy rate is 52.66% and average male lieracy rate is 80.51%, making a gender gap of 27.85%.
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 of 14.
In 2009, two states in India, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, participated in the international PISA exams which is administered once every three years to 15-year-old's. Both states ranked at the bottom of the table, beating out only Kyrgyzstan 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 standardised 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 private 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 14.6% in Maharashtra to 41.9% in Jharkhand. Only 1 in nearly 3,000 public school head teachers had ever dismissed a teacher for repeated absence.