Brief History of Education in India

If we were to follow the path leading to the history of education in India, it’s surely one of the most fascinating story to tell. Systematic and organized education has its roots to the ancient days in the subcontinent. Take a thorough study of the different periods and we can trace the way that lead to education in modern day India. This article briefly presents education as it was during the different ages in India. The ages has been categorized into ancient, medieval and modern India.

Education in Ancient India

Education in ancient India has always been believed to be very disciplined and well-organized, dating back to sometime during 3rd century B.C when traditional and religious knowledge used to be the main subject of learning. Palm leaves and tree barks were the writing pads and most of the teaching was oral by sages and scholars. Education in India became more relevant with the Gurukul System of learning that required students and teachers boarding together, passing on knowledge generations after generations. Religion, philosophy, warfare, medicine, astrology were the main subjects of teaching. Another unique aspect of this education was its free availability for all but was allowed a voluntary contribution called ‘Guru Dakshina’ which could mostly be afforded by few well-to-do families at the end of the courses.

Education in the First Millenium or Medieval India

The beginning of the first millenium and some years preceding saw the starting of universities like the Takshashila University, Nalanda University, Vikramshila University and Ujjain. Concrete subjects of study came into being like Astronomy, Grammar, Logic, Philosophy, Literature, Law, Medicine, Hinduism, Buddhism and Arthashastra (Politics and Economics), Mathematics and Logic. Each of the university specialized in a subject, with Takshashila focusing on medicine, the university in Ujjain on astronomy, whereas, Nalanda dealt with almost all the branches of study. Education was widely spread with the availability of schools in most of the villages in India, during the 18th century. Medieval times also saw the establishment of Madrasas and setting up of libraries and literary societies.

The Academic Situation in Modern India

Education in modern India started with the British era and thus, came the study of English language which was given more emphasis than other language learning. The recent form of education in India was an idea proposed by Lord Macaulay in the 20th century who believed that Indians should attain modern education to come out of their traditional thoughts, interests, intelligence and morals. The western education in India witnessed the setting up of several missionary colleges in various parts of the country. Post independence, the education sector was largely controlled by the central government but slowly became a joint effort by the central and the state governments through a constitutional amendment in 1976. By the start of 21st century, came education policies and planning like the free and compulsory education for children till 14 years of age policy and the plan to spend 6% of GDP in education, focusing primary education more.

Even though, India has a rich past when it comes to education, the country is still afflicted by high percentage of illiteracy and high rate of school dropouts.

Source: Foradian

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