Indian Education Sector on an Anaemic Growth Trajectory

The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”. - Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘education’ is “the systematic instruction, schooling or training given to the young in preparation for the work of life”. In contrast to the definition, education in India has been irrational and is confined to the three ‘Rs’ [Reading, Writing, (A) rithmetic]. Such abstract learning processes weaken the reasoning ability of a child to think critically in par with the development of the nation. The education system in one of the most illiterate countries like India is exclusively based on degrees and is akin to a horseless carriage that by no means reaches anywhere. Also Indian bureaucracy is deeply interested and involved only in Faustian success and material prosperity. Hence the education mechanism of our country has not yet met the world class standard of education that many third-world countries have already achieved.

India’s education system has taken a long journey over the decades from Gurukul system of Ancient India to oriental education of Medieval India to occidental education of Modern India to Joint collaboration of Center and State in education sector of Post-independence India. Despite a few substantial fluctuations over the past few decades, the growth in our education system has been modest.

The tussle between the Central Board and State Boards without setting a common curriculum of national standard deteriorates the quality education a young Indian should get. The education sector is controlled by states with their own curriculum and teaching methodologies. Often there is a vast difference between the syllabus and pattern of examination set by the Center and the State. Apart from the International Board syllabuses; ICSE, CBSE, NIOS and State Syllabus are some of the syllabi taught in schools of India.  The quality of the barely updated syllabus is inappropriate for a pupil. It is as the famous quote of the art critic John Ruskin goes “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent efforts”.

The shortage of well-qualified academic experts in the educational institutions has been flagged has another major concern. Teaching- the most respectable profession – is now degraded to the level of nepotism and sizeable bribery while recruiting teachers in both public and private schools and colleges. The frequent absence of teachers, poor infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms, lack of learning materials etc adversely affect the enrollment in government schools. The growing inclination towards private schools among illiterate parents despite of their family income is mainly due to the willingness to invest in their child’s future. The availability of efficient teachers in private sector attracts the parents of first generation learners to enroll their children there. Exploiting this tendency by collecting lump sum donation under the heads “miscellaneous expenses” and “school or college development” is a clear indication of profit-making strategy of private -run -institutions. Thus, the quality of education is getting expensive year-to- year.

The noblest of the noblest career teaching has been degraded. The drastic decline in the number of highly- qualified teachers is because of meager payment and over burdening of additional jobs such as election and census duty. Meanwhile, many of them take up part-time jobs in private tuition centers and coaching institutions for a monetary compensation. Through the scheme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan “para teachers” were hired to teach children paying them an honorarium. The Hindu newspaper report dated Jan 28, 2015 titled ‘Education Campaign yields dividends’ reports that “The campaign however, was criticized for creating two different categories of teachers- regular and honorary”. Casteism in teaching profession also pulls back the successors of Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan from the onus of educating youth. It also warns that the Sanskrit mantra Mata Pita Guru Deva no longer exists in India.


 Education in India is a long process and time consuming. After 10+2 students take up a stream of their choice and enroll in a college with high expectations. Gradually many realize that it is not their cup of tea and either discontinue or quit. Had they been clear on their ambitions this accident would not take place. Such occurrences demand the strong requirement of an educational consultant or career guidance cell in schools itself.

The liberalized Indian society has also failed to create labour force catering to the needs of the transforming Indian industry. No well- trained mechanic, electrician, plumber etc are found in urban India. Similarly, not even a single well-trained mechanic to repair agrarian tools and instruments is seen in rural India. The modern development in agricultural sector is really in need of trained and qualified agriculture folks whereas our government has unfortunately omitted such agricultural science from school curriculum.

In job market a person of high education is always preferred at the initial stages of recruitment. In the long run prospective employee is selected only by gauging his/her performance ability.  No student in India is trained in any kind of independent trade. Vocational and professional training are found to be absent during the years of formal education ie, till 10th standard. Our government does not attempt to inculcate vocational interest by comprising skill-based courses in the syllabus except at the higher secondary stage.

To get a degree is an easy process in India. There is ‘n’ number of open universities and off-campus programs in our country. Ninety percent of the rural youth does not reach to college level due to their below average performance in higher schools. Open Universities are mainly established targeting them. Apparently, certain anomalies such as lack of infrastructure, contact classes, study materials, tutorial sessions etc reduce the academic flavor of the scheme. Thus, the quality of teaching in such universities is rather ‘asymmetric’ too.

 On a contrary, a degree only furnishes one’s talent. It is quite easy to find many unemployed graduates and post-graduates in our country. Most of them after their studies take up clerical jobs. While some of them tend to seek more education during such downturns. The fact is that corresponding employment opportunities are not too viable in our country. The policy makers should take up the issue of non-linear relationship between the area of study and the career. Michael Gibbons during UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education speaks about “Higher Education Relevance in the 21st Century”. Gibbons states “since the link between fields of study and occupational areas are relatively loose in most countries and the process of transition from higher education to employment has become more complex and protracted, it has its own dynamics of raising and dashing hopes” (Gibbons, 1998).

Unlike developed countries our conformist country does not give due importance to specialization and new research initiatives. The abysmal record in scientific research in many premier government institutions is due to the deficiency in funds. Most of the brilliant and dedicated Indian graduates are absorbed by corporate companies offering them lucrative salary. The few left are either passionate about research or on the dole PhD applicant. The research aptitude tests such as CSIR-UGC-NET, GATE, GPAT etc test only the subject knowledge of the candidate and not the research aptitude of them. Other significant drawbacks are red tapism in administrative system and under- utilization of the available research equipment. Research work is sometimes labor intensive too. Despite the cheap availability of labour in India, the hesitance towards research is too surprising. Moreover our government does not have a research-oriented culture as in to plan the major ground breaking research areas. The substantial research output can only be achieved through proper planning and maximum utilization of allocated funds.

A well-equipped library has not given a right place in Indian educational system. For an informal self-education library is an inevitable factor. Compared to developed countries a library method of teaching is absent in our country. Our pupils are too much involved in prescribed syllabus and not out of it. An eligible and educationally qualified librarian should be recruited in every institution for setting up a modern library. Ofcourse, only “reading maketh a full man”.

A perfect balance between body and mind is vital for the overall development of an individual. Counsellors monitor the emotional trauma of the pupil and help take necessary steps. Unlike European countries, permanent professional counsellors are not recruited in many Indian educational institutions.  They should also be treated in par with subject teachers.

Also our institutions give over-importance to the universal language English. The medium of instruction is strictly English language in private schools. Yes, it helps the individual. But the row over English language and vernacular languages only complicate the well-being of a child. Brutal punishment and imposing fine for not speaking English in classrooms should be considered as a serious crime. The government-in-power’s controversial move to promote Sanskrit- the mother of all Indian languages- is appreciable but mysterious in lingo-political contexts.

Entrance exams are only meant to sort out the grain from the chaff. In the most literate state Kerala, only the physical presence of the candidate in Kerala State Entrance Exam (KSEE) is all that required to enroll in an Engineering degree. The waning interest in engineering field has not affected keralites. There would be at least one unemployed engineer in every house of ‘God’s Own Country’. Hence an immediate overhaul of the selection process is required to elevate the quality of this annual-exercise.

Rationalisation of fees in private institutions and loans with income contingent repayments would be assistance for higher education seekers. Scholarships are also additional rewards and bonus for students from lower-income groups and the scholarship amount is transferred through their accounts.  To avoid the misuse of the amount, the money could be transferred to a joint account of the educational institution. It ensures the efficient utilization of public funding.

The lack of academic autonomy for universities to change the syllabus inspite of their self-rule in academic matters is also a major challenge. The very less incentives from government prevent them from performing such duties.

To play a steering role in our educational system our government should give priority for modern aspects of pedagogical development. For a holistic development Indian schools ought to have one smart classroom atleast. However, corporate institutions as part of their social responsibility programs can tie up with state government and create digital learning content.

In a nutshell, the modern Indian education system overrates Lakshmi (money) over Saraswati (education). The navbharat further erodes India’s age-old belief of vidhya dhanam sarva dhan pradhanam (amongst all the riches and virtues of life, education is the supreme). The surplus in Indian demography can be converted into fiscal power only by the mutual co-operation between both public and private players. The tried and tested obsolete reforms in educational sector will not pave the way for change anymore. Only radical reforms through strategic planning and implementation would serve the purpose.

(image source: Wikipedia )


Aggarwal, Pawan. Indian Higher Education: Envisioning the Future. New Delhi: Sage Pub, 2009. Print.[/signinlocker]

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Sarthak Brahma

Superb one Meritta…almost all points are agreeable to, I guess, everybody. But how about the dismal situation of Arts in the education system? :mrgreen:

Abhirup Bhattacharya
Abhirup Bhattacharya

well said Sarthak. Fully agree 😀

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