The Beginning of a new Era
The year of 1947 continues to remain etched in the memories of all the Indians as it was when we were finally freed from the shackles of British Raj. Though the year marked the separation of India and Pakistan, it is still celebrated throughout the country as the Indians attained freedom on 15th August 1947. The hold of governance had finally come in the hands of Indian political leaders. The initial chaos had not dampened the spirits of the countrymen as it was the day to celebrate.
Soon, the new Indian Government started making policies to bring the country back on the track of development. While all these policies were being devised to make the reforms, Education System was where everyone’s eyes were. Education is what makes the country and the emphasis was laid upon essential primary education for all the citizens of the country irrespective of their caste, religion or sex.
The initial set up continued to keep the State Governments in-charge of the education system in the states while the central Government was mainly responsible for devising policies and providing resources to the States for implementation of a uniform education system. It played a major role in the development of the higher education and technical education provided to the youth of the country to make it self sufficient as well as employable at higher posts.
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Planning Commission (1950)
This was the first commission that was set up by the Government and the policies for enhancing the Education System of the country were expected to be rolled out by this commission. Following this commission, newer policies were formulated every five years as the Government started following the idea of Five Year Plans.
These plans aimed to eradicate illiteracy and achieve elementary education throughout the country. The Government was also looking to establish several vocational training centres throughout the states in rural as well as urban areas to make the uneducated adult population self-sufficient.
Slowly, there were reforms made in the educational system with regards to the standards of education. Modernisation of the system was necessary to bring Indian youth to the level of the youth in other developed or developing countries. Educated youth could form the strong base and pillars for our economy. This was why technical education was being improved in all the sectors of the country.
The 3 Commissions
1. University Education Commission (1949): This Commission was mainly formalised to reorganise the curriculum that was being taught in the country. The medium of instruction was changed to ensure that students learnt a lot more than they did earlier. Education was being made available to all and it was ensured that no student was lost in the process. The system was enhanced in such a way that every child was able to grasp the basics even if there was no educated person at home.
The techniques of evaluation were also devised to make them more student friendly while the recruitment of teachers was on a full swing. This commission was more focussed on increasing the reach of elementary education in the country by bringing changes in the services provided to the students.
2. Secondary Education Commission (1952-53): After increasing the reach of education, this commission was formed to ensure that more people received Secondary education in the country. It also focussed mostly on the teacher’s education such that they could teach the students in a better way by closely interacting with all of them.
3. Education Commission (1964-66): Once the students and teachers had been taken care of, the Government realised how the curriculum needed to be changed to be more uniform throughout the country. The entire education system was reviewed as CBSE(Central Board of Secondary Education) had been formed in the year 1962. Emphasis was being made on recognising most of the schools with this board. The idea was only to make the education provided to students uniform and similar throughout the states of the country. Prior to CBSE, every state had its State Education Board which was followed in the schools located within its boundaries. Now, as the student had to move from one state to another, the level of education and curriculum varied a lot. Thus, even when the student was within India, he/she wasn't studying the same books as the counterparts were in some other state.
The Government realised the importance of uniformity in curriculum and CBSE was devised for the same. While the schools established since pre-independence era were already following ICSE board of education, CBSE was established and put under the direct control of the Central Government. This commission was formed to bring a national policy for education into action which did happen in July 1968. The national policy of education was then revised in the year 1986 as more emphasis was laid on the ethics, technology used for imparting education and national integration.
Central Advisory Board of Education
This board continues to sumon the Central as well as State Governments about the education system of the country. There have been some autonomous bodies that were formed like the University Grants Commission (1953), All-India Council of Technical Education (1945) and National Council of Educational Research and Training (1961). All these bodies has their role that continue to fulfil till date like UGC is meant to keep a track of the various Universities being run in the country while AICTE maintains the log of the educational institutes registered with it to be able to provide quality Technical Education to the students. NCERT was devised to maintain and upgrade the standards of the education imparted to students in the schools at all levels. India follows the education system of 10+2+3 where 10 years of education is imparted in school followed by secondary education in school or Junior college and then minimum of 3 years of Graduation depending on the course selected by the child. The number of education institutes in the country have almost quadrupled since 1947 in all spheres. Starting from schools to colleges, the institutes are only increasing day by day while their standards continue to remain under check from the higher authorities like NCERT, UGC, AICTE etc.
Rate of Literacy
While the educational reforms and policies were formulated for the whole nation, yet there has been a stark difference in the literacy rates of different states in the country. Kerala has always been seen on top of the board and Bihar is the state with lowest literacy rate in the country at present. Mizoram is also in the running of becoming the next state with highest literacy rate and such difference in the percentages only makes us wonder what went wrong in all these years.
Kerala- The only State with almost 100% literacy rate
Let’s begin with Kerala which is currently the state with the highest literacy rate touching 100% at present with full enrollment for primary education irrespective of the caste or gender of the students. The state witnessed a large number of social reformers during the 1960s who made sure that no individual was left out when it came to attaining education. There was no discrepancy and it was ensured that every child had access to quality education. Thus, the state got a head start when it came to education as Kerala had 55% literacy rate in the year 1961, while India was lagging way behind with an average literacy rate of around 29%.
The State Government made sure that every year, a large part of the budget was dedicated to providing education to the children. The Central Government had started a mission of providing free education to all the children below the age of 14 years which was never achieved due to the shortage in the budget allocation since the very start. The strong support of the State Government of Kerala to the educational institutions is why every child has been given easy access to the same.
There is a school within the reach of students even in rural areas. It has been said that it all started in the 19th century when the Queen of Trivandrum had issued a royal decree to ensure that the Government will take the responsibility of providing quality education to the complete population. This was made to get rid of backwardness in the region.
There has been a good amount of funding in adult education by the State Government as the policies for Adult Education were rolled out by the Central Government. Thus, while other State Governments continued to invest in other sectors, the Government of Kerala made sure that educational policies were fully implemented in the state as the strong foundation had been laid during the rule of the Hindu Queen in 1817.
Bihar- Why is the state staggering with a literacy rate lower than the country’s average?
When the independence was achieved, this was amongst the poorest states in India with the lowest literacy rate. The reason was backwardness and poor status of women. The things did not change post-independence as the lower castes and women continued to remain in the same condition. The state government was not implementing the educational policies in the state too well either. There was hardly any infrastructure in the primary schools till the early 2000s. Students were still made to sit on the floor and the schools continue to suffer from a huge shortage of teachers.
There are almost 3 lakh lesser teachers than the number required to teach the children in the state. The classrooms continue to remain full as the number of schools are not enough to satiate the demands of the growing population. Rural areas continue to remain devoid of school in most of the regions making education hardly accessible for the children. Bihar has the third-largest population in the country while 62% of the primary students do not get to complete their education. As per the 2015-16 records, only 38% of the total population was able to complete their education up to class 10th. Even lesser numbers got to finish Graduation.
The weak conditions of schools with an extreme shortage of teachers and backwardness amongst the rural areas have cumulatively contributed to such low rates of literacy in the state. The state continues to drag behind while several educational reforms have taken place in the past few years. The gender discretion is a huge issue as it has already been proven that literate mothers can increase the literacy rate of a particular area manifold. Only 51% of women in Bihar are literate making it the second-worst second-worst in the country. The small-sized budget allocations to the education sector in the state is touted to be one of the main reasons why it has recorded such low literacy rates in all these years. Hopefully the condition improves in the coming years as high literacy can only ensure a better economy for the region.
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