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July 4 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The education system in India has evolved over centuries, reflecting the country’s rich cultural and historical legacy. In recent times, debates about the structure and governance of education, particularly whether it should be under state or central control, have gained prominence. 

History of Education in India 

  • Ancient Period: 
  • Gurukul System: Students (shishyas) lived with their teacher (guru) in the same house, learning through close interaction and practical experience. 
  • Nalanda University: One of the world’s oldest universities, attracting students globally and emphasizing Indian knowledge traditions. 
  • British Era: 
  • Macaulay Committee (1835): Introduced English education and aimed to create a class of anglicized Indians. 
  • Wood’s Despatch (1854): Laid the foundation for the modern education system, promoting the establishment of universities. 
  • Hunter Commission (1882): Focused on primary education improvement. 
  • Indian University Act (1904): Regulated and improved university education. 

Current Status of Education in India 

  • Literacy Rates: 
  • Gender Gap: Narrowing since 1991, but female literacy (65.46% as per Census 2011) still below the global average of 87%. 
  • Overall Literacy: India’s literacy rate is 74.04%, lower than the global average of 86.3%. 

Legal and Constitutional Provisions 

  • Legal Provisions: 
  • Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009: Guarantees free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14. 
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA): Focuses on universalizing elementary education. 
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan: Aims to enhance access to secondary education. 
  • Rashtriya Uchhattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA): Targets higher education quality and access. 
  • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan: Integrates SSA, RMSA, and other schemes for a holistic educational approach. 
  • Constitutional Provisions: 
  • Article 45 (DPSP): Initially aimed for free education for children up to 14 years, now includes early childhood care. 
  • Article 21A: Makes education a fundamental right for children aged 6-14. 
  • Union List Entries 64 and 65: Include institutions for scientific, technical education, and vocational training. 

Education as a ‘State’ Subject 

  • Historical Context: 
  • Government of India Act, 1935: Placed education under provincial control. 
  • Post-Independence: Education remained a state subject initially. 
  • 42nd Amendment (1976): Moved education to the Concurrent List during the Emergency. 

Government Initiatives Related to Educational Reforms 

  • National Education Policy, 2020: Comprehensive framework for transforming education in India. 
  • National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning: Utilizes technology to improve learning. 
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: Ensures universal elementary education. 
  • PRAGYATA: Digital education guidelines. 
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: Provides nutritious meals to school children. 
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Promotes education and empowerment of girls. 
  • PM SHRI Schools: Aims to upgrade schools to showcase quality education. 

International Practices in Education 

  • United States: Education standards set by state and local governments; federal government focuses on financial aid and access. 
  • Canada: Education managed by provincial governments. 
  • Germany: Legislative powers rest with the Länder (states). 
  • South Africa: Two national departments govern education; provincial departments handle local implementation. 
  • Finland: Emphasizes collaboration among schools, teachers, and students; minimal reliance on standardized tests. 

Arguments for Education on the State List 

  • Original Constitution Design: Framers placed education on the State List, recognizing local governments’ ability to address educational needs. 
  • State-Specific Policies: Tailoring education to cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic contexts ensures relevance and effectiveness. 
  • Resource Allocation: States invest significantly in education and should regulate their systems without central interference. 
  • Merit Determination: Centralized exams like NEET may not accurately reflect student potential; states should set admission criteria. 
  • Accountability: State control can lead to better accountability and quality education. 

Arguments Against Education on the State List 

  • Primary Education Quality: Reports indicate poor primary education governance in many states. 
  • National Integration: A common framework across states fosters national unity and cultural exchange. 
  • Minimum Standards and Equity: Central oversight ensures disadvantaged sections receive quality education. 
  • Standardization of Skills: A national curriculum ensures uniform skills for a pan-India job market. 
  • Regulation of National Institutions: Central oversight maintains quality standards in national institutions. 
  • Addressing National Concerns: A unified approach is needed for national issues like digital literacy and climate change. 

Way Forward 

  • Collaborative Federalism: Combining national standards with state flexibility. 
  • Outcome-based Funding: Allocating resources based on learning outcomes to incentivize quality improvement. 
  • Decentralized School Management: Empowering local communities and school management committees. 
  • Teacher Training & Transfer Policy Reforms: Enhancing teacher training and implementing transparent policies. 
  • Standardized National Assessment: Developing national assessments with state-specific benchmarks. 
  • Leveraging Technology: Utilizing technology to ensure equitable access to quality education. 
  • National Curriculum Framework: Creating a flexible curriculum framework that accommodates regional diversities. 


The education system in India requires a balanced approach that respects both national standards and state-specific needs. While there are strong arguments for returning education to the state list, ensuring minimum quality standards and fostering national integration are equally important. Collaborative federalism, with an emphasis on local relevance and accountability, appears to be the most effective path forward for Indian education. 

Mains Question 

  1. “Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of transferring education back to the state list in India. How can a balance be achieved between national standards and state-specific needs?” (150 WORDS)


July 4
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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