In terms of demographic profile, India remains one of the youngest nations in the world with 38.2% of its population in the 0-5 year age bracket. This translates into the Indian Education system being one of the largest educational systems globally with a network of more than 1.2 mn schools and around 31,000 Higher education institutes. Education, being one of the important determinants of human welfare of any nation, the GoI has accorded priority for the promotion of education especially primary & secondary education in India. Correspondingly, the government’s spend on education as a percentage of GDP stood at 3% while accounting for 11.3% as a proportion of all public expenditure. However, the GoI is faced with several hurdles in terms of penetration across all education segments viz: Pre- school, K-12, Higher education etc as well as reaching out to the students in tier-III cities and rural areas.
The GoI has therefore emphasised on Public Private Partnership (PPP) in education so as to augment the literacy rate from 74% as per the Census 2011. The educational segments i.e. Pre-school, K-12, Information & Technology (ICT) in schools and Higher education form the important constituents of the Indian education. Of the same, the Pre- school market in India still remains largely unorganised and under-penetrated. However, the ease of setting-up of pre-schools as well as the growing acceptability of pre-school concept in India augurs well for the industry. The K-12 institutes in India largely remain governed by the GoI accounting for 80.2% of the total 13.5 lakh schools in India. Of late, with greater interest evinced by the private corporates/ trusts / educational societies etc, the share of private institutions in the K-12 space has grown from 18.9% in FY07 to 19.8% during FY11.
The scope of ICT in schools has also gained prominence in recent times through GoI’s programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), ICT @ Schools etc. The penetration of ICT in schools however remains low especially owing to the slower pace of such roll-outs in the government owned or aided K-12 schools. In case of Higher education institutes, the ‘not-for-profit’ mandate coupled with the requirement of affiliation from multiple regulatory bodies such as UGC, AICTE etc proves to be a roadblock for the entry of private institutes.
However, in view of the rising enrolments in higher education coupled with the growing variety of educational streams, the private sector participation is expected to grow to catch in the growing penetration levels. CARE Research expects the size of the Indian Education System at US$ 102.1 bn with CAGR of 11.2% during FY11-15. Apart from the growth of educational segments as mentioned above, CARE Research expects the other trends such as GoI’s orientation towards PPP, entry of corporates and foreign educational institutions (especially in K-12 & Higher education), growing focus on the Distance education mode of learning and growing acceptability of the vocational courses to remain the key drivers to the growth of education in India.
Beginning with a brief statement on the educational situation on the eve of independence, In spite of all that had been achieved under the British Rule, we began our Freedom on a fairly low level of attainment in education in almost all respects. We then had 17 universities and 636 colleges (With a total enrolment of 238,000 students), 5,297 secondary schools with 870,000 students, implying that not even one youth in every twenty in the age-group 14-17 was in school, 12,843 middle schools with two million pupils and 1,72,661 primary schools with fourteen million students (which implied that only one child out of every three in the age-group 6-11 was in school). Vocational and technical education was but poorly developed, both at the school and university stages, and the supply of high level trained scientific man-power was very limited.
Educational inequalities were very large, especially between one region and another, between urban and rural areas, between men and women, and between the advanced and intermediate castes on the one hand and the scheduled castes and tribes on the other. The standards of education were generally unsatisfactory, especially at the school stage, with too much of emphasis on English and too little stress on mathematics, science or the Indian languages. The percentage of literacy was only about fourteen and the total educational expenditure was just about Rs. 570 million or less than half a per cent of the national income. It was this challenging situation which the nation was called upon to reform whenit kept its first tryst with destiny in 1947.
The modern school system was brought to India, including the English language, originally by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s. The curriculum was confined to “modern” subjects such as science and mathematics, and subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were considered unnecessary. Teaching was confined to classrooms and the link with nature was broken, as also the close relationship between the teacher and the student.
The Uttar Pradesh (a state in India) Board of High School and Intermediate Education was the first Board set up in India in the year 1921 with jurisdiction over Rajputana, Central India and Gwalior. In 1929, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana, was established. Later, boards were established in some of the states. But eventually, in 1952, the constitution of the board was amended and it was renamed Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). All schools in Delhi and some other regions came under the Board. It was the function of the Board to decide on things like curriculum, textbooks and examination system for all schools affiliated to it. Today there are thousands of schools affiliated to the Board, both within India and in many other countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Universal and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6-14 was a cherished dream of the new government of the Republic of India. This is evident from the fact that it is incorporated as a directive policy in article 45 of the constitution.
But this objective remains far away even more than half a century later. However, in the recent past, the government appears to have taken a serious note of this lapse and has made primary education a Fundamental Right of every Indian citizen. The pressures of economic growth and the acute scarcity of skilled and trained manpower must certainly have played a role to make the government take such a step. The expenditure by the Government of India on school education in recent years comes to around 3% of the GDP, which is recognized to be very low. “In recent times, several major announcements were made for developing the poor state of affairs in education sector in India, the most notable ones being the National Common Minimum Program (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The announcements are; (a) To progressively increase expenditure on education to around 6 percent of GDP. (b) To support this increase in expenditure on education, and to increase the quality of education, there would be an imposition of an education cess over all central government taxes. (c) To ensure that no one is denied of education due to economic backwardness and poverty. (d) To make right to education a fundamental right for all children in the age group 6–14 years. (e) To universalize education through its flagship program such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Mid Day
India has the world’s largest population in the age bracket 5 to 24 years of about 450 million. It also has around 500 million in the 25 to 59 age bracket which constitutes the working population and is expected to continuously increase even as the world’s working population ages and diminishes. This phenomenon will make India a supplier of workforce to the entire world. In the wake of this reality, the Indian education system should therefore be able to produce a workforce which is globally competitive and thus reap its demographic dividend.
Literacy in India is one of the key deterrents to socioeconomic progress of the country. The Indian literacy rate currently stands at 74% compared to 12% at the end of British rule in 1947. Although there has been a six fold growth, the level is well below the world average literacy rate of 84%, and India currently has the largest illiterate population compared to any other nation in the world. A quick look at Exhibit 1 below provides an insight into the current literacy levels of Indians. Therefore, as India moves ahead on the path of globalization, it needs to overhaul its education system to meet the future demands.
Despite having the largest Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K- 12) population globally, India has a low enrolment rate in schools, especially at the senior secondary level. The enrolment percentage has fallen from 113% at primary to 81% at middle school and then to 31% at secondary & higher secondary levels. Low enrolment and high drop-out rates are caused by low availability of schools in rural areas, low awareness, and prevalence of child labour amongst lower income strata. The enrolment percentage is calculated as the ratio of total numbers of students enrolled in specified grades to total number of children in that age group. At the primary level this is upwards of 100%, as even children greater than 11 years of age are enrolled in Grades 1-5. This is largely a rural phenomenon prevalent in Govt. schools across the country.
The Indian Education sector can be segmented under four broad heads, namely, Schooling, Higher Education, Vocational Education & Skill Development and Ancillary. The Exhibit 3 below provides an overview of the various education segments and their respective subsegments.
The schooling segment covers the largest population of our society as compared to any other form of education. The segment is also the largest education segment valued at USD 44 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach USD 144 bn by the year 2020. The market size of its various sub-segments with growth rates and projections for the year 2020 is mentioned in Exhibit 4.
Out-of-School Children: The number of out-of-school children has declined from 25 million in 2003 to 8.1 million in mid–2009. The most significant improvements have been in Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. The percentage of out-of-school children in highly populated states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar remains a cause of concern. Social Inclusion: Although there have been significant improvements in the proportion of children from socially disadvantaged groups in school, persistence gaps remain. Girls are still less likely to enroll in school than boys; in 2005, for upper primary school (Grades 6-8) girls’ enrolment was still 8.8 points lower than boys, for Scheduled Tribes (ST) the gender gap was 12.6 points and 16 points for Scheduled Castes (SC).
In addition, ST and SC children are less likely to access their right to 8 years of schooling; the drop-out rate for ST children being 62.9% and 55.2% for SC children compared to a national average of 48.8% leaving school before completing Grade 8.