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Indian Education System - An Overview

With more than 740,000 schools and more than 230 million enrolments, India has one the largest education systems in the world. India education system has made significant progress over the recent years with education expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product increasing from 3.3 % in 2004-05 to 4% in 2011-12.

Due to educational reforms in the 80s, India’s pre-school and primary schooling has become available to all the children. According to Right to Education Act 2009, schooling is free and compulsory for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. Most schools in India focus on academics and less on extra curricular activities. The Indian education system follows the 10+2+3 pattern.

Indian School Education System

Pre School Education

Education is not compulsory at this level but it is a very popular level in urban and semi urban areas. Children as young as 3 year olds go to Montessori school or play schools. The pre-school system is further divided into Play schools and Kindergarten.

Primary School

Primary education is compulsory for all children in India. First to fifth grade children of the age group of 6 to 10 year olds are in primary education system of India.

Middle School

11 to 14 year olds are under middle school which is between sixth to eighth grade.

Secondary School

Secondary school is for ninth to tenth class for children in the age group of 16 to 17 year old.

Higher Secondary

This is also popularly called the 10 2 in India. Students choose their specific area of study (Science, Commerce, Arts). Students are usually in the age group of 16 and 18 years.

Apex Body and Education Boards in India

The NCERT or National Council of Educational Research and Training is the main body for all curriculum. The various curriculum bodies governing school education system are:

CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education)

Currently there are 15,167 schools affiliated under CBSE. CBSE is recognised by the Indian government and by all universities and colleges of India. All Kendriya Vidyalayas or Central schools are affiliated to CBSE.

CISCE (Council of Indian School Certificate Examinations)

It is a private education board of India and conducts ICSE for Class X and ISC examinations for Class XII. About 1,900 schools are affiliated with the CISCE board.

State Government Boards

All the states have their educational boards which are regulated and supervised by the state governments. A lot of Indian schools are affiliated to various state boards, the oldest being the UP Board established in 1922. Some of the other popular state boards are Maharashtra State Board, West Bengal State Board, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

Established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, it is the board for distance education. It provides inexpensive but quality education to remote areas. Currently there are 3,827 academic centres, 1,830 vocational centres and 690 accredited agencies under NIOS.

Higher Education in India


After completing Class 12 or Higher Secondary Examination, students enroll in various colleges and institutions for Bachelor's degree programs. They have the option to choose a main subject of their choice be it science, arts or commerce or a professional program like engineering, law or medicine. The main governing body of higher education in India is UGC or University Grants Commission.

As of 2012, there are 152 central universities, 191 private universities and 316 state universities. The stress is on science and technology and therefore there are several technical institutes in India, admission of which is through common admission tests.

Technical Education in India

Regulation of technical education in India is done by AICTE which came into force in 1987 through an act of the Parliament. The main institutes providing world calss technical education in India are  Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology.

Distance Learning in India


Indira Gandhi National Open University or IGNOU coordinates distance learning at the higher education level. he Distance Education Council (DEC), an authority of IGNOU is co-coordinating 13 State Open Universities and 119 institutions of correspondence courses in conventional universities.
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