Education is an important activity in society, it gives an opportunity to man to understand the world around him and his place in it In ancient times man was completely at the mercy of nature which was a complete mystery to him.
The dark forces of nature were beyond the comprehension of man and to console himself he had to depend upon the existence of supernatural powers and this led to the growth of religion and superstition.
The invention of tools, domestication of animals and growth of agriculture led to organization of society and along with this, developed social sciences.
Thus, in education we combine the study of natural laws with the laws governing the development of society- Knowledge and understanding come to us through the study of natural sciences (chemistry, physics, biology, etc.) and the social sciences (history, political science, etc.).
The acquisition, interlinking and the transmission of this knowledge and understanding is the primary function of education.
Ideally speaking, it is through education that members of society, particularly the youth, come to understand the working of society. Education should enable the youth to improve the working of the society.
Seen in this light, the purpose of education is not just to help students acquire degree and obtain jobs. If the society is not organized properly, jobs become difficult to acquire, degrees lose their meaning and education becomes a national waste as it is happening in many countries in the world today.
Education, properly speaking, should develop a spirit of inquiry and rational thinking in the youth so as to enable them to understand the society and change it wherever it is found lacking.
Ever since India attained Independence in 1947, we have been following, for inexplicable reasons, Lord Macaulay’s system of education. This system has since lost its relevance to the changed socio-economic scenario in the country.
As is well known, Lord Macaulay was an ardent champion of the British Raj. Therefore, it was natural for him to devise an educational system for India which would not foster real awareness and education.
It aimed at producing loyal, committed ‘babes’ to eater to the clerical needs of the British colonial Government of India.
But it was essential for the Indian administrators to change this educational system. A different system more suited to the requirements of an independent progressive India has to be evolved.
From time to time, seminars or symposia were held to discuss the question of educational reforms and suggest an ideal educational system. However, nothing much could be achieved in this behalf.
Syllabi continued to be theoretical in nature, and irrelevant to the socio-cultural and economic contexts. Teaching methods and system of examination continued to be obsolete.
The result was that our educational institutions and universities, Instead of being citadels of learning and enlightenment, became dens of unrest and frustration.
Our students became irresponsible and directionless mob, out to destroy the very fabric of society. Instead of contributing to the progress of the nation, they became, to a large extent, a burden on the nation’s economy and society.
The first policy document on education was adopted in 1968, by the Government after Independence.
The National Education Policy, 1968 aimed to promote national progress, a sense of common citizenship and culture, and to strengthen national integration.
It called for radical reconstruction of the educational system and for greater attention to science and technology, the cultivation of moral values and closer relation between education and the life of the people.
However, even the Government admits that the general formulations incorporated in the 1968 policy did not get translated into a detailed strategy of implementation.
Some achievements since 1968 listed by the Government are: (a) acceptance of a common structure of education throughout the country and the introduction of the 10 plus 2 plus 3 system by most States; (b) laying down of common system of studies for boys and girls; (c) incorporation of science and mathematics as compulsory subjects; (d) restructuring of the courses at under-graduate level; (e) setting up of centres of advanced studies for post-graduate education and research.
A new draft National Policy on Education was approved by Parliament (n May 1986. The ‘Programme of Action’ to implement the new policy was adopted by the Government in August 1986.
The new education policy is broadly based on a document called “A challenge of education a perspective” laid by the then Education Minister in Parliament on 20 August 1985.
Education in India, says the new education policy document, stands at cross-roads today. Neither normal expansion nor the existing pace and nature of improvement can meet the needs of the situation.
The catalytic action of education in the complex and dynamic process of our country needs to be planned meticulouslyand executed with great sensitivity life in the coming decades, it points out, is likely to bring new tensions together with unprecedented opportunities.
“To enable the people to benefit in the new environment will require new designs of human resource development. The coming generations should have the ability to internalize new ideas constantly and creatively.
They have to be imbued with a strong commitment to human values and social justice. All these call for better education, stresses the document.
The new Education Policy, 1936 calls for a National System of Education in which all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, should have access to education of a comparable quality.
The system will be based on a national curricular framework which contains a common core along with other components that are flexible. In higher education, technical education in particular, steps will be taken to facilitate inter regional mobility by providing equal access to every Indian of requisite merit, regardless of his origins.
The policy gives importance to removal of women’s illiteracy and obstacles inhibiting their access to, and retention in, elementary education.
Major emphasis will be laid on women’s participation in vocational, technical and professional education at different levels.
The central focus of the policy in the educational development of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in their equalization with the non-SC and ST population at all stages and levels of education, in all areas and in all the four dimensions rural male, rural female, urban male and urban female.
The policy also aims to integrate the physically and mentally handicapped with the general community as equal partners, to prepare them for normal growth and to enable them to face life with courage and confidence.
The policy outlines a vast programme of adult and continuing education through establishing centers of continuing education in rural and urban areas; post-secondary education institution; wider promotion of books, etc., radio, television and films; distance learning programmes; need and interest based vocational training programmes, etc.
The new thrust in elementary education emphasizes two aspects; (1) universal enrolment and universal retention of children up to 14 years of age; and (2) a substantial improvement in the quality of education.
The policy pledges to provide essential facilities in primary schools, including at least two reasonable large rooms usable in all weathers, and necessary toys, blackboards, maps, charts and other learning material.
At least two teachers, one of them a woman, should be there in every school, the number increasing to one teacher per class as early as possible. To this end, the ‘Operation Blackboard’ has been launched all over the country to improve primary schools.
The policy also introduces a non-formal form of education for school dropouts, for children from habitations without schools, working children and girls who cannot attend whole day school.
In order to provide good quality modern education to the talented children predominantly from the rural areas, the government launched in 1985-86 a scheme to establish Navodaya Vidyaiaya on an average one in each district.
These vidyalayas are fully residential and coeducational and provide education in the streams of Humanities, Commerce, Science and Vocational up to +2 levels and are affiliated to CBSE. There are at present 359 sanctioned Vidyalayas in the country operating in 30 State/ UTs.
The National policy on Education (NPE), 1986 accorded high priority to vocationalisaiion of education at the secondary stage.
The NPE as revised in 1992 set the target of achieving diversion of 10 percent of the students at the +2 level to the vocational stream by 1995 and 25 percent by 2000 AD. A Joint Council for Vocational Education (JCVE) was set up in April 1990 for policy formulation and coordination at the national level.
In the field of higher education, provision will be made for minimum facilities and admission into colleges and universities and will be regulated according to capacity.
Courses and programmes will be redesigned and the present affiliation system will be replaced by a freer and more creative association of universities and colleges. Research will get more support.
The Open University system has been initiated to augment opportunities for higher education. The Indira Gandhi National Open University established in 1985 will be strengthened.
The policy provides for declining degrees from jots for which university degree need not be a necessary qualification.
Its implementation will lead to a refashioning of job-specific courses and afford greater justice to those candidates who, despite being equipped for a given job, are unable to get it because of an unnecessary preference for graduates, the document explains.
In the area of Technical and Management Education the policy maintains that reorganization should take into account the anticipated scenario by the turn of the century, with specific reference to the like changes in the economy, social environment, production and management processes, the rapid expansion of knowledge and the great advances in science and technology.
Step will be taken to make technical and management education cost-effective. The Computer Literacy and Studies’ in Schools has been made a centrally-sponsored scheme from 1993-94.
The curricula and processes of education will be enriched by cultural content in as many ways as possible. Children will be enabled to develop sensitivity to beauty, harmony and refinement.
Linkages will be established between the university system and institutions of higher learning in art, archaeology, oriental studies, etc.
As regards languages, the language policy of the Education policy of 1968 will be implemented more ‘energetically and purposefully’ the document says. The new policy also promises to make efforts to secure easy accessibility to books for all segment of the population.
The policy envisages reorganization of the methods of recruiting teachers to ensure merit, objectivity and conformity with spatial and functional requirement. The new programmes of teacher-education will emphasize continuing education.
District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) will be set it to organize pre- service and in service courses for elementary school teachers and for the personnel working in non-formal and adult education.
Selected Secondary Teacher Training Colleges will be upgraded to complement the work of the State Council of Education Research and Training.
To give the policy a practical shape, lot of funds would be required. The policy says that resources will be raised by mobilizing donations, asking the beneficiary communities to maintain school buildings and supplies of some consumables, raising fees at higher levels, and by effecting saving by efficient use of facilities.
Institutions involved in research and development of technical and scientific manpower should also mobilize funds by leaving cuss or charge on the user agencies, including Government departments and entrepreneurs.
The Government and the community in general will find funds for programmes: universalisation of elementary education liquidating illiteracy, etc.
The Government’ stagy to make the new system work consists of (a) better legal to, and the g-eater accountability of, teacher; (b) provision of improved students’ services, and insistence on observance of acceptable norms of behaviour; (c) provision of threshold facilities to institutions; and (d) creation of a system of performance appraisals of institutions according to standards and norms set at the National or state levels.
The new policy has been criticized on the grounds that
(i) The new thrust in the field of universalisation of education is non-formal education. Non formal education, educationist point out, can never be equivalent to regular schooling. This will create a dual education system.
(ii) Navodaya Schools will create further disparities.
(iii) The new policy suffers from an elitist bias as it also promotes privatization of education. As a result, one who is able to pay more will get better education as compared to a common person.
(iv) Education is sought to be commercialized Reeducation of subsidies will mean that students will have to finance their own education.