India’s educational system broadly comprises school education (elementary, secondary and higher secondary), higher education (general and professional) and vocational education. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is the nodal ministry for the sector. The other bodies involved in regulating and maintaining standards in the sector include

At the central level

  • National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT),
  • University Grants Commission (UGC),
  • All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)
  • National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE

At the state level

  • Department of Education
  • State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT)


Five-Year Plan Major Strides in the area of higher education (1986-2014)
7th FYP (1985-90)
More stress on speedy implementation of various reforms already initiated

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was established

Emphasis on quality and equity

8th  FYP(1992-97)
After a period (1989-91) of political instability, this plan highlighted several weaknesses such as substandard institutions, outdated curriculum, lack of research

Focus on integrated and cost-efficient higher education without compromising excellence and equity

An information and library network “INFLIBNET” was proposed.

9th  FYP(1997-2002)
Focused on the deterioration of quality, the resource crunch and the problems of governance in higher education

Stress on enhancing access and equity

Target to grant autonomous status to 10% of eligible colleges

10th FYP (2002-2007)
Target to raise the enrollment in higher education of the 18-23 year age group from the present 6 per cent to 10 percent by the end of the Plan period through  strategies of increasing access, quality, adoption of state-specific strategies and the liberalization of the higher education system

Emphasis on relevance of the curriculum, vocationalization, and networking on the use of information technology

11th  FYP  (2007-2012)
As a wake-up call to prolonged neglect of higher education, the GOI set targets for massive expansion

Also inclusion and rapid movement in quality by enhancing public spending, encouraging private initiatives and initiating the long overdue major institutional and policy reforms

Improve quality by working on a detailed reforms agenda including:

a) admission, curriculum and assessment;

b) accreditation & ratings;

c) teachers competence and motivation;

d) restructure affiliated colleges and research  

For policy formulation

Establish 30 new Central Universities, 16 in States where they do not exist and 14 as World Class Universities, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, 10 new NITs, 3 IISERs (Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research), 20 IIITs and 2 new SPAs (School of Planning and Architecture)

12th  FYP(2012-2014)
Planning Commission has been abolished in 2014 to usher in the NITI AAYOG

Plans for inclusive expansion brought in under the RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) which would include up gradation of autonomous and A rated colleges into universities, increasing the intake capacity of existing higher education institutions, encouraging existing universities to start undergraduate programmers or integrated

UG-PG programme; and creation of small, affiliating College Cluster Universities at the regional level

Other step would be to promote equal access to quality

Government of India Initiatives

Some of the other major initiatives taken by the Government of India are:

  1. According to the Union Budget 2020-21, government allocated Rs 59,845 crore (US$ 8.56 billion) for Department of School Education and Literacy.
  2. Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022 was announced and in Union Budget 2020-21 an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore (US$ 429.55 million) was proposed.
  3. Under Union Budget 2020-21, government proposed apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma courses by March 2021 in about 150 higher educational institutions.
  4. In November 2019, the India Design Council (IDC) launched the Chartered Designs of India (CDI) and the Design Education Quality Mark (DEQM).
  5. In October 2019, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) signed an agreement with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore for introducing a two-year fellowship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) programme.
  6. In October 2019, NCERT added in curriculum that for pre- schoolers teaching will be in Mother tongue and no homework for them.
  7. As on February 2020, 254,897 training centers are registered in India and around 2 crore candidates have completed training under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA).
  8. The Government has allocated the expenditure budget for higher education Rs 38,317 crore (US$ 5.4 billion) and for school education and literacy of Rs 56,536 crore (US$ 8.08 billion).
  9. Government provided Rs 400 crore (US$ 51.23 million) for ‘World Class Institutions’ for FY 2019-20.
  10. Government promoted new scheme ‘Study in India’ to bring foreign students to higher educational institutions.
  11. In August 2018, Government of India launched the second phase of ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’ which aims to link higher educational institutions in the country with at least five villages. The scheme covers 750 such institutions.
  12. The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat (EBSB) campaign is undertaken by Ministry of Human Resource Development to increase engagement between states, union territories, central ministries, educational institutions and general public.
  13. Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi launched the Skill India initiative – ‘Kaushal Bharat, Kushal Bharat’. Under this initiative, the government has set itself a target of training 400 million citizens by 2022 that would enable them to find jobs. The initiatives launched include various programmes like: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, Skill Loan scheme, and the National Skill Development Mission.
  14. In order to boost the Skill India Mission, two new schemes have been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
    •  Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion(SANKALP).
    •  Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE).

Government Achievements

Following are the achievements of the government in the past four years:

  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) introduced artificial intelligence as a subject in class ninth from the session 2019-20.
  • In August 2019, Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB) has signed a collaboration agreement with Google for Education in India.
  • Under the mid-day meal scheme initiated by the Government of India, about 95 million students of around 1.14 million schools enjoy fresh meal every day.
  • The Government has laid foundation of 141 universities and 7 IITs in the past four years.
  • With an aim of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among secondary school students in the country NITI Aayog, Government of India has launched the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM).In June 2018, 3,000 additional Atal Tinkering Labs were approved, taking the total number of labs to 5,441.

National Educational Policy(2019)

A ‘Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy’ under the Chairmanship of Late TSR Subramanian, Former Cabinet Secretary, was constituted, which submitted its report in May, 2016. Based on this report, the ministry prepared ‘Some Inputs for the Draft National Education Policy, 2016’. The draft NEP is based on the foundational pillars access, affordability, equity, quality and accountability.

Some of the Changes proposed as of National Education Policy of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The committee has proposed to rename MHRD as Ministry of Education (MoE).
  2. In school education, a major reconfiguration of curricular and pedagogical structure with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as an integral part of school education is proposed.
  3. The committee also recommends Extension of Right to Education Act 2009 to cover children of ages 3 to 18. A 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure based on cognitive and socio-emotional developmental stages of children: Foundational Stage (age 3-8 yrs): 3 years of pre-primary plus Grades 1-2;Preparatory Stage (8-11 years): Grades 3-5;Middle Stage (11-14 years): Grades 6-8;Secondary Stage (14-18 years): Grades 9-12.Schools will be re-organized into school complexes.
  4. It also seeks to reduce content load in school education curriculum.
  5. There will be no hard separation of learning areas in terms of curricular, co-curricular or extra- curricular areas and all subjects, including arts, music, crafts, sports, yoga, community service, etc will be curricular.
  6. It promotes active pedagogy that will focus on the development of core capacities: and life skills, including 21st century skills.
  7. The committee proposes for massive transformation in teacher education by shutting down sub-standard teacher education institutions and moving all teacher preparation/education programmes into large multidisciplinary universities/colleges
  8. The 4-year integrated stage-specific B.Ed. programme will eventually be the minimum degree qualification for teachers.
  9. In higher education, a restructuring of higher education institutions with three types of higher education institutions is proposed-
    • Type 1: Focused on world-class research and high quality teaching
    • Type 2: Focused on high quality teaching across disciplines with significant contribution to research;
    • Type 3: High quality teaching focused on undergraduate education. This will be driven by two Missions -Mission Nalanda & Mission Takshashila.
  10. There will be re-structuring of Undergraduate programs (e.g. BSc, BA, BCom, BVoc) of 3 or 4 years duration and having multiple exit and entry options.
  11. A new apex body Rashtriya Shiksha Ayog is proposed to enable a holistic and integrated implementation of all educational initiatives and programmatic interventions, and to coordinate efforts between the Centre and states.
  12. The National Research Foundation, an apex body is proposed for creating a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.
  13. The four functions of standard setting, Funding, Accreditation and Regulation to be separated and conducted by independent bodies: National Higher Education Regulatory Authority as the only regulator for all higher education including professional education.
  14. Creation of accreditation eco-system led by revamped NAAC.
  15. Professional Standard Setting Bodies for each area of professional education and UGC to transform to Higher Education Grants Commission (HEGC).
  16. The private and public institutions will be treated on par and education will remain a ‘not for profit’ activity.
  17. Several new policy initiatives for promoting internationalization of higher education, strengthening quality open and distance learning, technology integration at all levels of education, adult and lifelong learning and initiatives to enhance participation of under-represented groups, and eliminate gender, social category and regional gaps in education outcomes were also recommended.
  18. Promotion of Indian and classical languages and setting up three new National Institutes for Pali, Persian and Prakrit.
  19. Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) has been recommended.

Government Programmes

Adult Education 

Saakshar Bharat Programme(formulated in 2009)

The programme goes beyond ‘3’ R’s (i.e. Reading, Writing & Arithmetic) in order to create and awareness of social disparities and a person’s deprivation on the means for its amelioration and general well being. The objective of the programme was to achieve 80% literacy level at national level, by focusing on adult women literacy seeking – to reduce the gap between male and female literacy to not more than 10 percentage points .

Objectives of programme:

  1. Imparting functional literacy and numeracy to non-literates
  2. Acquiring equivalency to formal educational system
  3. Imparting relevant skill development programme
  4. Promote a leaning society by providing opportunities for continuing education

The principal target of the programme is to impart functional literacy to 70 million non-literate adults in the age group of 15 years and beyond.

Indian Adult Education Association :

Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA) is a national level voluntary organization established in 1939. It is a pioneering organization that has been instrumental in promoting the adult education movement in the country. IAEA functions as a federation of over 5006 affiliated organizations and 3000 individual members spread over the country. It supports their activities by bringing them together in conferences, seminars, workshops and discussion groups. IAEA readily co-operates with movements aiming at the eradication of illiteracy and ignorance and promotion of civic, economic and cultural interests of the people. It serves as a connecting link for interstate co-operation and is affiliated with several international organizations. In addition to its periodicals it publishes a number of books and reports on adult education.

Institute of Peoples Education – Jan Shikshan Sansthan:

The scheme of Jan Shikshan Santhan (JSS) was initially launched in 1967 as Shramik Vidyapeeth, a polyvalent or multi-faceted adult education institution, aimed at improving the vocational skills and quality of life of the industrial workers and their family members as well as those persons who had been migrating from rural to urban settings. The scheme of Shramik Vidyapeeth was renamed as Jan Shikshan Sansthan in April 2000. Along with the change in its name came the change in its focus. A scheme that was meant for the industrial workers and their families was expanded both in terms of its clientele and focus and was extended to the rural areas.

As per Census 2011, India still had over 3.26 crore youth non-literates (15-24 years of age) and a total of 26.5 crore adult non-literates (15 years and above Some of the features/Draft of National Policy of Education, 2019 related to Adult Education are as follows:

  • Establishing an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT, which will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education. The Framework will cover five broad areas: foundational literacy and numeracy, critical life skills vocational skills development, basic education, and continuing education.
  • Adult Education Centers will be included within the proposed school complexes. Relevant courses for youth and adults will be made available at the National Institute of Open Schooling.  A cadre of adult education instructors and managers, as well as a team of one-on-one tutors will be created through a newly-established National Adult Tutors Programme.

APEX Level Bodies

Name of the Organization Website
All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) http://www.aicte-india.org/
Council of Architecture (COA) http://www.coa.gov.in/
Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) http://ichr.ac.in
Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) http://icpr.in/
Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) http://icssr.org/
University Grants Commission (UGC) http://www.ugc.ac.in/