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Has the Indian education system evolved in a dynamic manner post-independence?

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SAS Kirmani
New Update
Indian education system

New Delhi: As I sat to write about the education system worldwide, the first thing that came to my mind was Finland's education model, which is ranked number one globally, and the lessons India should learn from it.

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However, as I continued writing, I found it more pertinent to focus on the evolution of the Indian education system post-independence. Its transformation has been marked by significant changes and developments.

The following is the chronology of the policy formulation of the Government of India since independence:

  • 1948 – The 1st commission, the University Education Commission, was set up.
  • 1952 – The Secondary Education Commission was established.
  • 1964-66 – The Indian Education Commission was introduced.
  • 1968 – The first National Education Policy came up.
  • 1986 – A new policy was formulated.
  • 1992 – The previous education policy was modified.
  • 2005 – The 1986 education policy was again modified.
  • 2020 – The new National Education Policy (NEP) was passed.
  • 2023-24 – The New Education Policy was implemented.
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Let us discuss these developments phase-wise.

1. Post-Independence Era (1947-1970s)

Focus on Basic Education: In the initial years after independence, the focus was on providing basic education to all citizens. Efforts were made to establish primary schools in rural areas and promote literacy.

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Formation of Educational Policies: The government formulated key educational policies such as the Education Commission of 1964-66 (also known as the Kothari Commission), which emphasised the need for universal elementary education, vocational training, and educational planning.

Expansion of Higher Education: The establishment of universities and institutions like IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) laid the foundation for higher education and technical expertise.

2. 1970-1990s

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Focus on Access and Equity: This period saw efforts to enhance access to education, especially for marginalised communities and girls. Programmes like Operation Blackboard aimed at improving infrastructure in schools.

Shift towards Vocational Education: Vocational education gained importance, with the establishment of vocational training institutes and polytechnics to cater to skill development.

Introduction of National Policies: The National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986 and the Program of Action (PoA) 1992 aimed at restructuring the education system, promoting innovation, and improving quality.

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3. 1990-2000s

Liberalisation and Globalisation: With economic reforms, there was a shift towards a more market-oriented approach in education. Private participation increased, leading to the growth of private schools and colleges.

Technology Integration: The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the integration of technology into education with initiatives like the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT).

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Focus on Quality and Outcome-Based Education: Quality assurance mechanisms were strengthened, and outcome-based education gained prominence with the establishment of accreditation bodies like NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) and NBA (National Board of Accreditation).

4. 2010-2020s

Emphasis on Skill Development: Initiatives like Skill India aimed at enhancing employability through skill development programmes and industry collaboration.

Innovation in Education: Concepts like flipped classrooms, online learning platforms, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) gained popularity, promoting innovative teaching methodologies.

The Digitalisation of Education: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of education, leading to widespread adoption of online learning tools and platforms.

Focus on Inclusive Education: Efforts are being made to ensure inclusive education for all, including differently-abled students, through policy measures and inclusive learning environments.

New Education Policy (NEP) 2020

The New Education Policy (NEP) introduced in 2020 represents a departure from earlier education policies in several key aspects such as:

1. Holistic and Flexible Learning

NEP emphasises a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to learning, encouraging students to explore diverse subjects and develop a wide range of skills.

It promotes flexibility in the choice of subjects, allowing students to select courses based on their interests and aptitudes, rather than rigid subject streams.

2. Early Childhood Education

NEP recognises the critical importance of early childhood education and aims to provide universal access to quality early childhood care and education for children up to 6 years old.

It focuses on the holistic development of children, including cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical aspects.

3. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

NEP places a strong emphasis on foundational literacy and numeracy, considering them as essential pillars of learning.

It outlines a framework for early-grade reading, writing, and numeracy with targeted interventions and assessments to ensure foundational skills among students.

4. Curricular Reforms

NEP proposes a revised curricular framework with an integrated approach, reducing the content load and promoting critical thinking, creativity, and experiential learning.

It advocates for the inclusion of vocational education from the secondary level onwards, aiming to equip students with practical skills for employability.

5. Teacher Training and Professional Development

NEP prioritises teacher training and continuous professional development to enhance teaching quality and effectiveness.

It proposes the establishment of a National Mission for Mentoring to provide support and guidance to teachers throughout their careers.

6. Technology Integration and Digital Learning

NEP recognises the transformative potential of technology in education and advocates for the integration of digital tools and resources in teaching and learning processes.

It promotes the development of digital infrastructure, e-content, and online platforms for accessible and inclusive education.

7. Assessment and Evaluation Reforms

NEP proposes a shift towards competency-based assessments and holistic progress evaluations, focusing on assessing students' conceptual understanding and application of knowledge rather than rote memorization.

It advocates for the use of technology-enabled formative assessments and continuous feedback.

By and large the transformation of the Indian education system has been a dynamic process influenced by socio-economic factors, technological advancements, and evolving educational ideologies.

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