In India, high school is a grade of education which includes Standards VII to X. Standards XI to XII called as Higher Secondary School or Senior Secondary School or Junior college. Some states refer to Standards IX and X as High School, while XI and XII are termed as Intermediate. Other states refer to VI, VII, VIII, IX and X (grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) as Secondary school and XI and XII (grades 11 and 12) as Senior Secondary School. Usually, students from ages 14 to 18 study in this section.
These schools may be affiliated to national boards like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) or National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or various state boards. There were only 20 universities and 500 colleges in the Indian subcontinent (including Bangladesh and Pakistan) in 1947, the year of Indian independence. Now there are about 376 universities and 17,700 colleges in India only, many with world class physical infrastructure. Many private research institutes are also coming up on a regular basis.
The only Nobel prize for India (Indian citizen at the time of the award) in science for C. V. Raman (1930, University of Calcutta) also came in that era. We also had many world class scientists during that time (e. g Satyen Bose, J. C. Bose, Homi Bhaba etc). Now India is the second fastest growing in the world and third largest economy in Asia with huge budget in so-called education and research. But we do not have any world class scientist (who has a slightest chance to get Nobel Prize in science) in India or abroad (as per a survey published in a reputed Bengali magazine, “Desh”, sometime ago).
We see huge uproar when previous government wanted to “introduce accountability” in some elite institutes like IIM or IITs but we never see a fraction of that excitement among educated middle class people or our political masters to reform primary and secondary education although our primary and secondary education system, the backbone of our country, is in a pathetic shape. Our middle class people, who can not afford to send their kids abroad but dream to have a better, more powerful and comfortable life for their kids do not allow any meaningful reform of primary and secondary education since independence.
Our current education system selectively discards talented students with inquisitiveness, ability to ask questions and dream to do something challenging, something better for the society. Now we only produce private tuition and coaching enabled, mugging-up grade technicians who are great to do routine jobs (as in IT or BT) or imitating others (mainly true for Indian R&D sector in any branch of science and in any industry), but not capable of doing original research, despite of having many world class physical infrastructure, huge budget and some so-called “elite” institutes.
My recent experience with many graduate students form some high profile Indian institutes/universities indicate that the trend to emphasize on database type knowledge, quiz type information and fascination with techniques (not science as such) are still highly prevalent. No wonder India is among the least innovative nations in the world. Quality of Indian science education and research is going down at an alarming rate since independence, despite of huge increase in funding (1, 2, 3 and Balaram, P. (2002).
Science in India: Signs of Stagnation. Current Science 82, 193-194. ). We need to invest much more and have an intensive and proper supervision of primary and high school education than wrongly focusing on higher education and research at the top level, at this time. Recently passed Right to education bill is a step towards the right direction. But here again we need to remember that many such great policies hardly achieve anything in reality and only limited within government files and the money ends up in the pockets of few selected people.
Whatever money we spend on higher education and research is not going to give us any novel knowledge or technological edge unless we have right candidate behind the costly machines we buy. Now we produce mainly technicians, not scientists or technocrats and feel proud to export such raw materials to manpower-starved developed countries ( be it IT or BT, the two main pillars of Indian economy today). This might lead to some degree of prosperity in the short term but we are going to loose in a big way in the long run unless we totally overhaul our basic education system at primary and high school level. It’s useless to cut the roots and then water on the top.
Schemes and Programmes
The development of Secondary Education sector is also guided by the following Centrally Sponsored Schemes:
Integrated Education for Disabled Children
Improvement of Science Education in Schools
Promotion of Yoga in Schools
Strengthening Boarding and Hostel Facilities for Girls
Environmental orientation to School Education.
National Population Education Project.
National Awards for Teachers.
A brief description of each of these Schemes is given below. Vocationalisation of Secondary Education A Central Institution of Vocational Education named "Pandit Sunderlal Sharma Central Institute of Vocational Education (PSSCIVE)" was set up at Bhopal in 1993 under the overall umbrella of NCERT. The Institute acts as an apex level research and development organisation in the field of vocational education and provides directs and academic support to the programmes.
Integrated Education for Disabled Children (IEDC)
Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for education of disabled children which includes assistance towards books and stationery, uniforms, transport allowance, readers allowance for blind children, escort allowance for severely handicapped children, boarding and lodging charges for disabled children residing in hostels, salary of resource teachers and helpers, setting up and equipping resource rooms, survey and assessment of disabled children, purchase and production of instructional material, training and orientation of resource teachers, funds for making modifications in school buildings and salary of an administrative Cell at the State level to implement and monitor the programme. According to the last survey conducted by the NSSO in 1991, the population of disabled children was estimated at 16. 15 million which is currently estimated to have gone up to 20 million. Under the Persons with Disabilities Act it has become mandatory for the Central/State/local governments to provide basic education to children with disabilities up to 18 years of age.
The Act also calls for a series of activities to promote the education of such persons and mainstream them in general school system. Based on the provisions of the Act and experiences in recent years it is proposed to revise the existing IEDC for which a group has been set up. Improvement of Science Education in Schools With a view to identifying a nurturing talent in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at school level, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), Internal Physics Olympiad (IPhO) and International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is held every year. India has been participating in these Olympiads since 1989, 1998 and 1999 respectively.
Each participating country is required to send a team comprising not more than 6 secondary student contestants to IMO, 5 secondary student contestants at IPhO and 4 contestant students to IChO apart from a leader and deputy team leader. Environmental Orientation to School Education The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986, provides that the protection environment is a value. The Scheme was initiated in 1988-89. The Scheme envisages assistance to voluntary agencies. The voluntary agencies are assisted for conduct of experimental innovative programmes aimed at promoting integration of education programmes in schools with local environmental conditions.
Three Resource Centres namely
Uttra Khand Seva Nidhi, Almora
CPR Environmental Education Centre, Chennai and
Centre for Environment Education
Ahmedabad have been designated as nodal agencies for mobilisation, involvement and provision of financial support to NGOs/voluntary organisation in their respective regions for conducting innovative and experimental programmes in the field of Environmental Orientation to School Education.
Population Education Project
National Population Education Project (School Education) was launched in April 1980 with a view to institutionalise population education in the school education system. The objectives of the project are:
Introduction of Adolescence Education (with major components like process of growing up, HIV/AIDS Education, Drug Abuse in Schools and Teachers Education); and
Re-orientation, updating and improvement of the elements of Population Education in the light of Programme of Action adopted by the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1984.
National Awards to Teachers
These were instituted in 1958. There are 302 awards out of which 20 awards are reserved exclusively for teachers of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic teaching in traditional institutions. In order to be eligible the teacher should have put in 15 years of continuous service on the date of consideration of his claim by the State level Selection Committee.