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Education facilities have been expanded at all levels in India and as a result, not only has the literacy rate risen, but the percentage of children availing school education has also increased. India now has one of the largest education systems in the world. 84% of rural habitation in India now has a primary school located within a distance of 1 kilometre. The National Policy on Education (NPE) was made in 1986 and further modified in 1992 emphasising of 3 elementary aspects as below
  • Universal access and enrolment
  • Universal retention of children up to 14 years of age
  • Substantial improvement in the quality of education
National Policy on Education (NPE) had set a goal of expenditure on education at 6% of GDP. The actual expenditure of Central and State Governments was 4% of GDP in 2011-12. Fundamental right i.e. Free education for children between 6 and 14 years age have been encouraged by Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The following are the results of the efforts undertaken.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), which shows the proportion of children in the age of 6-14 years actually enrolled in elementary schools, increased from 32.1 in 1950-51 to 115 in 2011
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  • A programme called Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched in 2001-02 for providing education to all children. This was the main vehicle for providing elementary education to all children.
  • National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) is an important component of SSA which concentrates on education of girl child.
  • Another important component of SSA is the Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education (EGS + AIE). This is specially designed to provide access to elementary education to children in school-less habitations and out-of-school children in 2004-05
  • SSAs have opened about 3.3 lakh new schools, constructed more than 2.8 lakh school buildings, 16,00,000 additional classrooms and supplied free text books to 8.70 crore children and employed 12.5 lakh teachers
  • Several schemes like mid-day meal scheme, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh (PSK) have been launched for encouraging elementary education
  • There has been an impressive growth in the number of secondary and higher education schools from 7,416 in 1950-51 to more than 1,72,900 in 2007- 08.
  • The corresponding increase in total student enrolment has been from 1.5 million in 1950-51 to more than 40million in 2008.
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  • In order to enhance access to secondary education and improve its quality, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan was launched in 2009. It envisages raising the enrolment at secondary stage from 52.26% in 2005 to 75 % within five years.
  • In 2011-12, there were 690 universities and 35,539 colleges. At present, there are more than 1400 polytechnics providing vocational training.

Recent expansion of higher education institutions include

  • Opening of 6 new IITs
  • Passing of ordinance for establishing 15 Central Universities
  • Opening of new IIMs (Indian Institute of Management)
  • Setting up of two new Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs)
  • Establishing new poly techniques, etc.
In order to provide adult education, the National Literacy Mission (NLM) was launched in 1998 as a technology mission. It aimed at imparting functional literacy to non-literates in the country, in the age group of 15-35, in a time-bound manner. Its objective was to attain a sustainable threshold literacy rate of 75% by 2007. NLM was recast into Saakshar Bharat in 2009. Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) has been the principal strategy of NLM. The 11th FYP aimed at 80% literacy rate, reduction in gender gap in literacy to 10%.

Problems of Indian education system

  • Unplanned expansion of higher education
  • Inadequate number of institutions which can impart education through correspondence or in the evening
  • Low standard of education
  • Large scale migration of educated people to the developed western countries
  • Lack of infrastructure in many rural schools – absence of rooms, teachers, water, etc.
  • Neglect of primary education

Suggestions for improving the education system

  • Standard of education should be raised
  • Technical education should be properly planned
  • Efforts should be taken to stop highly educated people from going abroad in search of jobs
  • Education should be job-oriented

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