India has a long tradition of organized education. As a historian has put it, “There is no other country where the love of learning had so early an origin or has exercised so lasting and powerful an influence.” However, educational effort in the country has come a long way from this traditional position in its definition, coverage as well as impact.The current educational system in the country operates in an altogether different context from the classical past. The country’s commitment to the provision of education for all and its endeavor to achieve this goal in a speedy fashion has to be seen in this complex milieu within which the educational system is currently functioning.
As the veteran educationist Shri J.P.Naik put it: “The Indian Society, especially the Hindu Society has been extremely inegalitarian, and this (provision of equality of educational opportunity) is the one value on the basis of which the society can be humanized and strengthened. In fact, the issue is so crucial that the Indian society cannot even hope to survive except on the basis of an egalitarian reorganization”. Between 1813 and 1921, the British administrators laid the foundations of the modern educational system. The principal positive contribution of the British administrators to equality was to give all citizens open access to educational institutions maintained from or supported by public funds. For instance, the worst difficulties were perhaps encountered when the problem of educating the “untouchable” castes came up.
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The first test case arose in 1856 when a boy from an untouchable caste applied for admission to the government school at Dharwar. He was refused admission on the ground that it would result in the withdrawal of all the caste Hindu children from the school and thus in the closure of the school itself. But the decision was sharply criticized by the Governor General of India as well as by the Court of Directors in the East India Company and a clear policy was laid down that no untouchable child should be refused admission to a government school even if it meant the closure of the school (Report of the Indian Education Commission, 1882).
The British administrators thus established, firmly and unequivocally, the right of every child irrespective of caste, sex or traditional taboos, to seek admission to all schools supported or aided by public funds. The British administrators refused to accept the principle of compulsory elementary education. The Indian nationalist thought, however, was firmly of the view that the provision of equality of educational opportunity must include a certain minimum general education to be provided to all children on a free and compulsory basis. A demand that four years of compulsory education (which would ensure effective literacy) should be provided to all children was put forward, for the first time before the Indian Education Commission by the Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji in 1881. Gopal Krishna Gokhale who moved a resolution on the subject in the Central Legislative Assembly in 1910 and again took the proposal vide a bill in 1912, neither of which achieved their objective. At this stage, it is illuminating to read the then announced Indian Educational Policy,
1913. It begins as under: “His Most Gracious Imperial Majesty the King Emperor, in replying to the address of the Calcutta University on the 6th January 1912, said: –
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“It is my wish that there may be spread over the land a network of schools and colleges from which will go forth loyal and manly and useful citizens, able to hold their own in industries and agriculture and all the vocations in life. And it is my wish too, that the homes of my Indian subjects may be brightened and their labour sweetened by the spread of knowledge with all that follows in its train, a higher level of thought, comfort and of health. It is through education that my wish will be fulfilled, and the cause of education in India will ever be very close to my heart.”
The Government of India, have decided, with the approval of the Secretary of State, to assist Local Governments, by means of large grants from imperial revenues as funds become available’, to extend comprehensive systems of education in the several provinces. Each province has its own educational system, which has grown up under local conditions and become familiar to the people as a part of their general well being. In view of the diverse social conditions in India there cannot in practice be one set of regulations and one rate of progress for the whole of India. Even within provinces there is scope for greater variety in types if institutions that exists today. The Government of India have no desire to deprive Local Governments of interest and initiative in education. But it is important at intervals to review educational policy in India as a whole. Principles, bearing on education in its wider aspects and under modern conditions and conceptions, on orientalia and on the special needs of the domiciled community, were discussed at three important conferences of experts and representative non-officials held within the last two years. These principles are the basis of accepted policy. How far they can at any time find local application must be determined with reference to local conditions.
On the question compulsory and free elementary education, the Policy stated: The public demand for compulsory primary education continued however to grow, and between 1918 and 1931 compulsory education laws were passed for most parts of the country by the newly elected State legislatures in which Indians were in majority. In 1937, Mahatma Gandhi put forward his scheme of Basic Education under which education of seven or eight years duration was to be provided for all children and its content was to be revolutionized by building it round a socially useful productive craft. As a result of all these efforts, the idea that it was the duty of the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children till they reached the age of 14 years was nationally accepted as an important aspect of the overall effort to provide equality of opportunity. Under the wise leadership of Sir John Sargent, the then educational adviser to the Government of India, these ideas were accepted by the British administrators and the Post-war Plan of educational development in India (1944) known popularly as the Sargent Plan, put forward proposals to provide free and compulsory basic education to all children in the age group 6-14 over a period of 40 years. (1944–1984).
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The nationalist opinion did not accept this long period, and a committee under the chairmanship of B.G.Kher proposed that this goal could and should be achieved in a period of 16 years (1944–1960).
It was this recommendation that was eventually incorporated in the Constitution as a Directive Principle of State Policy. It was thus not a mere statement of an ideal, but a well-thought out enunciation of a policy, which is yet to be implemented though a substantial component was sought to be achieved by 2000 under the Education for All plan.
A core curriculum is emphasized at the elementary school level. This is a carefully planned curriculum that in content it compares favourably with those adopted in a number of other countries. A common core can help in overcoming discrepancies between the educational opportunities of urban and rural people, and that of men and women, but it cannot eliminate those difficulties unless literacy rates improve, greater participation occurs in school and other changes take place in society.
In addition to the regular statistical return system, which is regularly compiled and published under the heading Education in India each academic year (There are normally 16 Tables. These statistics are also followed by 5 or 6 illustrations), there are also two expert institutions under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, viz. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) which carry out regular research and surveys, and in-depth analyses
... provoking many conflicts, creating new types of educational institutions and new educational systems.Bibliography: //spb.org.ru/ngo/ ... of dialogue and consensus. It means democratization of educational process. It should also overcome a situation of ... a strengthening of its regionalization but without historically formed educational network. All that raises potential of ignorance in society ...