Education is the brightest light which has the power to illuminate the darkest of paths. It is also an enlightening experience which continues to transform an individual throughout his life. The seeds of Education in Ancient India were sown around 3rd Century B. C with the inception of Gurukul system which was propagated by learned sages and scholars.
During this time scholars taught their disciples through oral recitation and they used palm leaves and trees as writing slates. The main subjects of teaching included religion, philosophy, warfare, medicine and astrology. Education was viewed as the purest form of obtaining enlightenment or moksha in those times. This time period was known as the Vedic period and witnessed the setting up of Gurukuls which contributed to the guru-shishya parampara. Sanskrit enjoyed a position of privilege in ancient India. It served as a medium of Brahmanical education. Primary importance was attributed to sacred texts like Vedas and Upanishads.
Only the upper classes had the priviledge of receiving education in these times. Self education, introspection and meditation were given supreme value as it resulted in purity of mind and satisfaction of the soul. During the Mauryan and the post-Mauryan periods, the Indian society went through a phase of intensive change. With the growth of urban centres and trade, the mercantile community came to acquire an important position. New subjects like politics, logic, economics and medicine were studied in detail. Life skills were also given importance. ‘Prakrit’ as a language developed with the rise of Buddhism. The Mughal emperors had great love for learning and they contributed more in the field of spreading education through Pathshalas, Vidyapeeths, Makatabs and Madarsas When the Gupta period emerged, there was an important shift from oral method to reading of literary texts. The monasteries had libraries where valuable manuscripts were copied and stored.
They also attracted foreign travellers like Fa Hien who spent several years researching religious texts. During this time period, The great Nalanda University was also established. Rise of Takshashila University, Ujjain, and Vikramshila Universities also holds immense importance. Due to the arrival of British, the colonial era emerged which vehemently dismissed the traditional structures and stressed the importance of India to suit their own needs. Under the Colonial Rule, mass education was neglected and the attempt was to create an urban educated elite that would act as interpreter between the ruler and the ruled. The examination system was emphasised in both high schools and Universities. The impact of English education was not even. Literacy and education were more widespread in towns than in villages. The positive aspect was that it produced a breed of educated political leaders and social reformers who played important roles in the freedom struggle of the country. The publication of newspapers and pamphlets brought about an awakening among the masses. This acted as an extremely effective weapon in achieving independence.
Teaching Of English was primarily done by the British to emphasize their culture as the most superior of all which can be seen in Macaulay’s “Minute on Indian Education” yet English has helped India to bridge various gaps. India is a potpourri of different cultures and consists of various languages. Use of English by Indians provided one language that cut across the entire country and became a common link for them. English books and newspapers brought to them new ideas from across the sea, i. e. other countries. Fresh ideas from the west like freedom, democracy, equality and brotherhood began to have its impact on the thinking of the English knowing Indians which gave rise to national consciousness which aided in the freedom struggle. Now let’s gauge into the Historical Progress of education in India after the independence. the journey of education in India from the reminiscence of history to present day silhouette is taking various strides of time. As is rightly said that the education which doesn’t enlighten the mind of person, is more harmful than not being uneducated. It also accepted that even the Americans had to modify its means of education when Russia launched SPUTNIK in October 1957. America brought a consensus on one man commission to promote science and mathematics education.
They realized that quality is of paramount significance. Quality education requires continous efforts from leaders, organisors, administrators. We have a history of rich learning centes like Takshila Nalanda And Vikramshila. Then during the era of britishers higher education invited a little attention and centres like Hindu college in Calcutta in the year 1817, Pune college in 1833, Agra college in 1837 came to effect. They acted as centre for awarding completion and finishing certificate, which was enough to pursue contemporary higher education from abroad as well. The woods commission in 1854 (also known as magna carta of education) recommended university of Calcutta, Bombay and madras. Post independence Pt. Jawahar lal Nehru who was great visionary paid attention to cause of education and constituted university education commission in the year 1948 under the chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan to ascertain the kind of resources they were spending on education. After 4 years it was realized feeder education is needed to be strengthened and secondary education commission in the year 1952 under the chairmanship of Mudaliar was constituted. After attaining independence, the Nation has invested a large part of its resources in education.
The first National Education Policy of 1968 marked a significant step in the history of education in post-independence India. The main objectives were to promote national progress, a sense of common citizenship and culture, and to strengthen national integration. It gave importance to the need for a radical reconstruction of the education system, technology, the cultivation of moral values and a closer relation between education and the life of the people. With the development of science and technology, availability of satellites and internet have helped to revolutionize the education system and to extend its power to remote and distant areas. After two decades in 1964-66, Indian education commission under the chairmanship of Dr D. S. Kothari came covering all levels of education. But during this phase at the political front the country faced war with china and Pakistan. Then Rajiv Gandhi era marked the new policy initiatives.
The massive demands of education led to inappropriate public funding and 1990-2004 marked massive liberalization of economy and as well as field of education. Then there was second wave of expansion of higher education in our country having a totally of unprecedented change and introduction of architecture and management as the new subjects of study. This new space created for learning provided with scope to innovate and create. Now we are witness to New education policy on education 2015 having as many as 33 different areas of specialization. Today we are talking about online delivery, vocational orientation to higher education and autonomy in respect to governance. The education today is in gigantic shape and it is enlarging with 864 degree awarding universities, 11000 thousand standalone institutions and a total of 36. 7 million enrolment of students and 15 lakhs teachers. Progress is fairly well but quality is a concern for educational administrators and political executives. The matter of concern is teaching neither creates interest nor promotes relation with social milieu. That is why the learner searches the route of escapism. If a learner is a not exposed to social problem, then how one can expect a solution from him related to the environmental issues.
What is needed most is inclusive and qualitative expansion of higher education. For this quality teaching, quality research and innovation is equally important. The UGC,ICSSR,ICHR and other agencies promotes research funding and allocation of funds must cover wider areas and more subjects. Subject specific benchmarking is essential, the sooner it is done, will be good for education. This write up is fundamentally inspired by the talk delivered by Sh Ved Prakash ji (Former Chairman University grants commission) in Maharaja surajmal group of institutions in the memory of Founder chairman Sh. RamNiwas Mirdha ji, who highlighted the importance of Academic audit in relation to all aspects pertaining to teaching and learning outcomes at institutional level as mandatory feature. The sphere of education is an ever evolving sphere which renders power and strength to the masses of India and makes them self sufficient individuals with the power to influence the world at large.