Following only the United States and China, India has the third largest education system in the world. As such, education in India faces its fair share of challenges when it comes to educating its population. For example, although there are 2.5 million graduates a year, the number only represents 10% of the youth population.
With the challenges facing education in India, the government is initiating various reforms to improve the less-than-optimal situation. At the same time, students in India can opt for alternative options to continue pursuing higher education by way of studying abroad or pursuing an online degree.
By understanding the current education system, we can see how it’s still possible to succeed in education in India, thanks to technology, accessibility, and continued progress.
Current Education System
Education in India is set up such that the public school systems exist on three levels, including central, state and local institutions. From ages 6-14, free education is compulsory, and the ratio of public to private schools is 7:5. For private education, the popularity increases in secondary school, or grades 9-12.
Upon graduation from high school, people have the option to enroll in either university or vocational schools, or of course, enter the workforce without pursuing higher education. Vocational schools in India are not highly specialized, but rather prepare trainees with a vast set of valuable skills.
On the other hand, the University Grants Commission (UGC) oversees universities by allocating funds and developing institutions within the country for higher education. Bachelor’s programs in arts, sciences, commerce and social studies are typically 3-year programs. However, for those wishing to earn a degree in Medicine, Law, or Architecture, degree programs range from 4-5.5 years.
Challenges of Education in India
As such a densely populated country with limited funding, India’s education system has faced some hurdles, the biggest of which include:
1. Lack of Resources:
Beginning with a low supply of teachers, India’s system is in dire need of help to meet its demand. Because the system is designed as top-down, data and information from within the classroom filters up to the government level, rather than being used to address the needs within the classroom. Additionally, technological tools are few and far between, but they are needed to prepare students for the modern workplace and world.
2. Low Quality of Education:
Data has shown that even after five years of school, just about half of the children in India have progressed to a level of reading and arithmetic which would be expected from 2-3 years of education. The quality of education is behind.
3. Families Lack Education:
Because mothers are very likely to be uneducated, especially in rural communities, children come from households that do not support learning at home. This means that students are either unmotivated by their familial structure, or they cannot turn to their parents for assistance with schoolwork. Either way, it causes a break in the educational system.
4. Lack of Expenditure:
The government expenditure on education is behind other countries and is needed to improve the quality and resources available within institutions.
5. Lack of Skills:
Even though there is a large amount of students enrolled in degree programs, they tend to graduate and lack the necessary skills to be employed.
6. Gender Inequality:
Although the gender gap in education is decreasing in undergraduate education, the statistics show that as men and women move up the academic pipeline (i.e. post-secondary degrees), the gap widens as men tend to earn higher degrees than women.
7. High Unemployment Rates:
This year, India saw its highest unemployment rate in 45 years. Standing at 6.1%, the population that is jobless tends to be young and is more likely to be female.
Education Reform & Spending
To address the challenges facing India’s education, the government initiated a plan called Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE). It calls for universities to focus more on “learning and innovation,” but the inherent challenge to achieve these reforms is to allocate the funding that is necessary to achieve such measures.
RISE aims to fund revitalizing infrastructure and promoting teacher training programs to enhance the quality of education. The government also wants to increase the use of digital technology within education because it’s the biggest driver to improve quality.
However, currently, the government spends 3% of GDP on education, whereas the goal is for that number to be at least 6%.
By 2020, the average age of the population in India will only be 27, as opposed to 46 in America, 42 in Europe, and 48 in Japan. This means that the workforce is young and should be relatively fresh out of school.
To increase employability both within India and worldwide, the option to study abroad or online could grant the young population in India a revived chance at a successful career. Rather than remaining bound to the current educational system, the following options can open many doors.
1. Study Abroad
Students can choose to leave India and study at international institutions that are open to international students. Most students from India choose to go to the following 5 countries because they have English-speaking programs and degrees from these countries are well-respected in India – Canada, Germany, Australia, United States and Italy.
2. Study Online
If leaving India is not a desirable option, technology has made it possible to study online from anywhere in the world. Institutions like University of the People offer an accredited, American education to people globally. Students from over 200 countries and territories have participated in the tuition-free university, which offers degrees ranging from Associate to Master’s degrees. Students can choose to study Computer Science, Health Science, Business Administration and Education.
Finding Your Success
Whether you choose to enroll in school within India or opt for the option to study online or abroad, you can open the door to many opportunities by earning your degree in higher education.
Despite the country’s challenges, reform is occurring and students have the chance to earn their degrees and/or vocational training in India to better prepare themselves to enter the workforce.