Education in India

Education in India has many facets, many of which have been forged by different institutions that existed from historic times to the present day. Talking about history, the education system that existed in old India was unique and some of its components and underlying principles are still found in places in the country. Contemporary education is more or less fashioned as per Western education models and systems. There are two things unique about education in India – the diversity represented in the content that further contains different elements like traditions, culture, language, dialect, etc. The second thing unique about education in India is a popularly inherited system that has evolved over the years in to a unique entity.

Education in India: Past
A well established education system existed in India even in ancient times. There were old brahminical schools were theology, philosophy, arts, military education, public administration, etc., was taught to the students. One major drawback about these schools was that education in India was a privilege and only children belonging to higher castes were allowed to receive the education. Ancient schools of India were mostly residential schools. The teacher and the pupils that used to receive education stayed together till the education was completed. Education in India at that time was free; however students returned the favours by helping the teacher in daily chores. The teacher or Guru was the central figure and revered by all. In contemporary times, the great respect teachers and schools enjoy are somewhat related to the great honour bestowed in ancient times. There were no books and recorded medium of passing over the knowledge. Whatever was taught was taught verbally and knowledge passed from the teacher to students and so on.

Education in Medieval India
In medieval India, new elements got fused in the education as foreign invaders brought with them their culture, their teachings and their lifestyle lifestyle. The growing influence of Islam also led to the establishment of schools for Muslims. Again the education primarily focussed on theology. Thus two types of schools – the Vedic schools and Madrasas, were dominantly present in the pre-colonial India.

Education in India: Colonial Period
In the pre-colonial and early colonial period, India was not a strong nation in principle. The region comprised of separate small states that were often engaged in territorial disputes. Meanwhile, the renaissance period and great developments in the 14th, 15th and 16th century in Europe led them to explore new lands and further their movements. It was the time when missionaries stared arriving in Asia and later in India. After the occupation of Indian states, the British, who had occupied a large part of India, felt the need to directly communicate with appointed officials. The interpreter or messenger system characteristic of the pre-existing monarchs came to an end, and British officials made English language necessary for Indian officials; which was intended to help them in administration. From time-to-time in the colonial period, stress was laid on English schools; oriental education, which were to include content as was made required in Western schools. The first English schools were seen as conspiracy measures to weaken the traditions and popular culture of Indian states. However, few reformers, cashed on the opportunity and imbibed some essential traits, which later on changed the entire structure of Indian education system.

Modern Education – From Theology to Sciences In the post colonial period, the knowledge and great achievements by European states shifted the focus of education on sciences and popular studies that were being taught and learned in European countries. British left India in 1947, but the education system remained, though some reforms were incorporated in it. The popular school system, formal education, progressive learning, higher studies and even the content was inherited. In the post Independence period, the government, renowned educationists, social scientists and many leaders stressed on making the education India centric, with focus once again on the popular culture and traditions. But now there were slight difference, as both Western and our indigenous models got mixed up to shape into an altogether different entity. Thus, education in India got shaped by influences and institutions in various periods, throughout the history.

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