Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central, state, and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14. The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5.
India has made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three-quarters of the population in the 7-10 age group, by 2011. India’s improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to its economic development. Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions. While enrolment in higher education has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching a Gross Enrolment Ratio of 24% in 2013 there still remains a significant distance to catch up with tertiary education enrolment levels of developed nations, a challenge that will be necessary to overcome in order to continue to reap a demographic dividend from India’s comparatively young population.
At the primary and secondary level, India has a large private school system complementing the government run schools, with 29% of students receiving private education in the 6 to 14 age group. Certain post-secondary technical schools are also private. The private education market in India had a revenue of US$450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market.
The Indian education system is structured as follows:
1. Pre-school: Education at this level is not compulsory. The Montessori system is especially popular at the pre-school level
2. Private playschools: Catering for children between the ages of 18 months and three
3. Kindergarten: This is divided into lower kindergarten (for three- to four-year-olds) and upper kindergarten (for four- to five-year-olds)
4. Primary school: First to fifth standard/class/grade (for six- to ten-year-olds)
5. Middle school: Fifth to eighth standard/class/grade (for 11- to 14-year-olds)
6. Secondary school: Ninth and tenth standard/class/grade (for 14- to 16-year-olds)
Higher secondary or pre-university: 11th and 12th standard/class/grade (for 16- to 17-year-olds). This is when students choose an academic area on which to focus
7. Undergraduate: A BA is a three-year degree. Specialised courses such as medicine and engineering can be longer
Postgraduate: A one-year course
TYPES OF SCHOOLS
1. Public/government schools: Most schools in India are funded and run by the government. However, the public education system faces serious challenges including a lack of adequate infrastructure, insufficient funding, a shortage of staff and scarce facilities
2. Private schools: Since many government schools do not provide adequate education, Indian parents aspire to send their children to a private school. Some expats choose to send their children to private Indian schools
3. International schools: There are international schools in all major cities. They are attended by expat and Indian children
National open schools: Provide education up to the higher secondary level for children whose schooling has been interrupted and have been unable to complete formal education
Special-needs schools: Provide non-formal education and vocational training to children with disabilities