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Critical analysis of the Indian education system

Recently, India bagged the number one spot as the world’s most populous country, accounting for one-sixth of the world’s population. When it comes to providing resources or amenities to such massive public, the task becomes arduous for any government. When it comes to the education sector, providing quality education is still a complicated task in the nation. As of 2023, the Indian education system has made significant strides in addressing some of its long-standing challenges while adapting to needs of the modern world.

To enhance the quality and relevance of education, emphasis is being laid on holistic learning and skill development. The curriculum has been revamped to incorporate practical and experiential learning, nurturing students’ critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving abilities. Even technology has played a vital role in transforming the Indian education landscape. Moreover, vocational and technical education have gained recognition and importance within the system. The government has strengthened vocational training programs, offering a range of practical skills and certification courses to equip students with employable skills.

While the above-mentioned points are enough to justify how the Indian education system is making efforts to evolve itself, below we will discuss some issues that plague the education system and what can be done to redress them.

1. Limited funds

The Indian education sector has long struggled with inadequate funding, which, as a result, has affected various aspects of the system. Insufficient investment in education has led to lack of infrastructure, shortage of qualified teachers and compromised learning environments. If we observe the factors which give rise to this inadequacy of funds, we can account for the following,

  • Government expenditure - Historically, the percentage of GDP spent on education in India has remained below the recommended levels by international standards. Even though, the government has been making continuous efforts to increased government spending on education, the actual expenditure often falls short of the desired levels.

  • Private vs. public education - In India, private educational institutions often charge high fees, making quality education inaccessible to many individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. While private investment in education can contribute to infrastructure development, it can also exacerbate inequalities if not regulated effectively. The challenge lies in striking a balance between public and private investment to ensure equitable access to quality education.

  • Challenges in financing models - The education sector faces challenges in adopting innovative financing models. Limited availability of low-cost education loans, lack of investment in education technology, and a dearth of public-private partnerships hinder the sector's ability to raise additional funds or leverage resources efficiently.

2. Autonomy for educational institutions

In India, a certain degree of control is provided to administrative authorities when it comes to functioning of public and private educational institutions. This often makes the educational hub lose its liberty when it comes to revising their functions or introduce reforms. As a result, institutions, especially high-performing institutions should be given autonomy in their operations. Allowing liberty in revision of the syllabus and introduction of new reforms can aid in offering quality education.

3. Expensive higher education

The affordability of professional and technical education has become a crucial component. Considering that most families in India still constitute of average income levels, the cost of higher education in India can be expensive. Public universities and colleges generally have lower tuition fees compared to private institutions. However, even in public institutions, the cost of education has been rising over the years due to factors such as increasing infrastructure and operational costs. Private universities and colleges, on the other hand, often have higher tuition fees, and prestigious institutions may have significantly higher costs. Apart from tuition fees, there are additional expenses to consider, such as accommodation, books and study materials, transportation, and living expenses. These costs can further add to the overall expenditure of higher education. To make education more affordable, the government can float a new entity that provides education loans at cheaper interest rates or by offering longer repayment tenures. Even private institutions can provide scholarships to students from economically and socially weaker section.

4. Obsolete curriculum

The Indian education system has been subject to criticism and scrutiny for various reasons, leading some to argue that it is outdated or obsolete in certain aspects Here are a few points to consider:

  • Emphasis on rote learning: One of the key criticisms of the Indian education system is its heavy emphasis on rote memorization. This approach often prioritizes the ability to reproduce information rather than fostering critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity.

  • Limited focus on holistic development: The current system tends to prioritize academic excellence and exam scores over holistic development. While academic achievements are important, the system often overlooks the development of essential life skills, social-emotional learning, and physical well-being.

  • Curriculum relevance: The curriculum in certain areas of study may be outdated and disconnected from real-world applications. There is a need for regular updates to ensure that the content is aligned with industry requirements, technological advancements, and emerging fields.

  • Skills gap and employability: There is often a mismatch between the skills acquired through education and the skills required in the job market. The system should place a greater emphasis on developing practical skills, vocational training, and entrepreneurship education to enhance students' employability and entrepreneurial mindset.

5. Inferior primary education system

A report from UNICEF read that due to inadequate and poor infrastructure, 29% of boys and girls leave school before completing their elementary education. This loss has resulted not only in financial implications for the society but also wastage of capable human resources. More focus should be on skill development and vocational education for job creation at the middle school level. Most students who drop out of school/college are earning members of the family, and their education cost is considered a liability. However, with early vocation-based courses and education, their parents would know that funds spent on their education would benefit the family and prepare the student for the competition in the skill market.


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