Wednesday 12 December 2018

A Glimpse of Education System of India right from Ancient Period

In the present article, I have tried my best to give you all a glimpse of origin and journey of education system in India. Here, I have talked about the ancient system of education prevailed in India right from Vedic system to education system in pre-independent India (that is during the time of British rule in India) to post-Independent India.

What was the ancient education system in India? What was the ultimate aim of education in ancient India?  

To begin with, it is widely accepted the fact that India has always accorded high importance to education. The education system was first evolved in ancient India which is commonly known as the Vedic system of education. The ultimate aim of education in ancient India was not knowledge, as preparation for life in this world or for life beyond, but for complete realization of the self. The Gurukul system fostered a bond between the Guru and the Shishya and established a teacher centric system in which the pupil was subjected to a rigid discipline and was under certain obligations towards his/her teacher.

The world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. The University of Nalanda, or the Nalanda Mahavira as it was known at the time, established in 4th century BCE, was one of the world’s first great universities in the world. In its heyday, in the 7th century AD, Nalanda University had some 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered diverse fields of learning covering science, astronomy, medicine, and logic as diligently as they applied themselves to metaphysics, philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga-shastra, the Veda, and the scriptures of Buddhism and foreign philosophy.

Transcending ethnic and national boundaries, Nalanda University attracted pupils and scholars from China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Persia, Turkey and other parts of the world. Indian scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and Vatsayayna and numerous others made seminal contribution to the world knowledge in such diverse fields as mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, medical science and surgery, fine arts, mechanical and production technology, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, sports and games.

Modern Education System of India:
During the freedom struggle, several leaders like Gokhale, Ram Mohan Roy, Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Gandhiji worked for better education for the people of India. The concern for the improvement of education had been at the top of India’s development agenda since independence. Several commissions were appointed by the government of India from time to time to formulate policies and programmes required to enhance access to and participation in education and improve quality of education. Prominent among them include: the University Education Commission (1948-49), the Secondary Education Commission (1952-53), the Education Commission (1964-66), and the National Commission on Teachers - I & II (1983-85).

The Resolution on National Policy on Education (1968) formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the Education Commission, laid stress on the need for a radical reconstruction of the education system, to improve its quality at all stages, and the development of science and technology, the cultivation of moral and social values, and a closer relation between education and the life of the people. The Resolution stressed the role of education in promoting national progress, a sense of common citizenship and culture, and in strengthening national integration.

The National Policy on Education 1986 (revised in 1992) envisaged a National system of education which implies that “up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of a comparative quality”. The 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976 brought about a fundamental change by transferring education from the State List to the Concurrent List thereby recognizing the importance of the federal structure of our country and giving equal primacy to both the central and state governments as partners in furthering the educational goals in a cohesive manner. Any policy on education has to acknowledge the inter-sectoral and inter-ministerial nature of a holistic education process and the important role to be played by the States. This Policy therefore recognizes the role to be played by the other national level policies such as, the National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) adopted in 2013, National Youth Policy (NYP), 2014 and the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 and numerous other State level policies.

Since the formulation of the National Policy on Education, 1986/92, significant changes have taken place in India and the world at large. India’s political, social and economic development is passing through a phase which necessitates a robust and forward looking education system. A major development relating to education sector in India has been the establishment of Constitutional and legal underpinnings for achieving universal elementary education. The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 that inserted Article 21- A in the Constitution of India envisages free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A of the Indian constitution entitles every child of the age of six to fourteen year with the right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education. Significant changes have taken place in the education sector.

The educational activities and learning process are no longer confined to the classroom and, therefore, the domain of education is no longer limited to formal schooling or higher education. The educational process is not only mediated by classroom-based curriculum transaction but also by media, both electronic and print, information and communication technologies, books and journals etc. Learners today have access to more current knowledge through non-institutionalized means.

The fast pace of generation and application of new knowledge, especially in the fields of science and technology, and its impact on the daily life of people brings into focus the importance of introducing learners to the rapidly changing world of knowledge. The need for the development of human skills, including life skills, that meet the demands of the emerging knowledge economy and society highlights the need to promote the acquisition by learners of knowledge and skills on a life-long basis to enhance their capacity to adapt to changing skill requirements.

The changing social contexts of education as well as the national concerns for achieving the goals of equity and inclusion demands a changed approach to education for enhancing opportunities for all learners to become successful in their learning experience and making all educational institutions responsive to the learning needs of diverse student population groups in order to ensure equitable educational outcomes for all.

The use of new information and communication technologies, especially of internet, has expanded dramatically during the past few years. New technologies are transforming the way in which people live, work, and communicate. The new technologies have brought about easy access to new pools of information and learning resources and new learning opportunities for learners. Integration of new technologies into educational settings has emerged as a priority task in the education sector.

The above developments imply that the education policies and the content and process of education must evolve with the changing times and needs. The goals, structure, content and processes of education need renewal keeping in view the experiences gained in the past and the concerns and imperatives that have emerged in the light of changing national development goals and societal needs as well as the dynamics of the local, national, regional and global realities and changes, including the changing learning needs of children, youth and adults.

Draft National Education Policy, 2016:

The Draft National Education Policy, 2016 which is designed to guide the renewal process in education in India represents an attempt in this direction. The Draft National Education Policy, 2016 envisions a credible education system capable of ensuring inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all and producing students/graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are required to lead a productive life, participate in the country’s development process, respond to the requirements of the fast‐changing, ever‐globalizing, knowledge‐based societies, and developing responsible citizens who respect the Indian tradition of acceptance of diversity of India’s heritage, culture and history and promote social cohesion and religious amity.

This vision recognizes the central role of education in India’s social, economic, political, and cultural development. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The real difficulty is that people have no idea of what education truly is. We assess the value of education in the same manner as we assess the value of land or of shares in the stock exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated.”

Inspired by the thoughts of the Father of the Nation, the Policy brings into focus the role of education in inculcating values, providing skills and competencies to citizens, and enabling them to contribute to the nation’s well-being. It recognizes that long-term economic growth and development of the nation critically depends upon the quality of the products of the education system and that an education system built on the premises of quality and equity is central to sustainable development and to achieving success in the emerging knowledge economy and society. It recognizes education as the most potent tool for socio-economic mobility and a key instrument for building an equitable, just and human society. It also recognizes the education as an integrative force in society, and its role in imparting values that foster social cohesion and national identity. The vision also implies that good quality education will help amalgamate globalization with localization, enabling India’s children and youth to become global citizens, with their roots deeply embedded in Indian culture and traditions.

The Draft National Education Policy, 2016 provides a framework for the development of education in India over the coming few years. It seeks to address both the unfinished agenda relating to the goals and targets set in the previous national policies on education and the current and emerging national development and education sector-related challenges. Recognizing the importance of quality education in national development, the Draft NEP, 2016 places an unprecedented focus on significantly improving the quality of education at all levels and on ensuring that educational opportunities are available to all segments of the society.


  1. Nice write-up sir.

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