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How Has The Indian Education System Evolved Since Independence?

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Education is very important and everyone should have access to it. In the pre-independence era, there were many flaws like, girls were not given access to education. Vernacular languages were used as the medium of instruction.

The English Education Act was introduced under governor general William Bentick, in 1835. But, it didn’t bring about a drastic change. The growth of education wasn’t uniform and more attention was paid to the expansion of high schools.

The English Education Act was introduced in India 1835. Representational image.

Colleges were set up at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay (now, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, respectively). The admission was restricted to Europeans.

When India got independence from British domination in 1947, the literacy rate stood at 12%, which was very low. So, there was a need for strong reforms that would boost the education sector.

Free Universal Education

In 1968, the National Policy on Education (NPE) was introduced. The main recommendations were universal primary education. It also recommended a new pattern of education, three-language formula, industrial education and adult education.

The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) as well as the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) were established to maintain the standard of education.

In 1995, the midday meal scheme was started in schools, to provide nutritious food to children. One of the main motive of the scheme was to increase the enrollment of school-aged children from the disadvantaged sections of the society.

Also, primary education was made free and compulsory.

The midday meal scheme was introduced to increase the enrollment of school-aged children from the disadvantaged sections of the society. Representational image. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

There were only 27 universities in 1950. This number rose to 254 by 2001. Also, earlier, the number of primary schools was just around 2.1 lakh. This had tripled to 6.40 lakh by 2001. As a result, the literacy rate increased from a mere 12% to 64.83% in 2001.

In 2009, the Right to Education (RTE) Act guaranteed free education for children between the ages of 6 and 14. The literacy rate in India was 74.04%, 82.14% among males and 65.46% among females, in 2010.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

On January 22, 2015, beti bachao beti padhao (save the girl child, educate the girl child), a government scheme, was launched. The main objective of this scheme is to promote the education of girls and to make them independent, to fix the skewed child sex ratio.

The scheme was launched with an initial funding of ₹100 crore. It mainly targeted states where girls were not independent, or their parents did not support their education. These states included Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

This scheme was successful as in 53 out of 161 districts. The sex ratio declined in 2015-2017.

In 2018, there was an amendment to the RTE Act. According to the RTE Act (2009), no student could be detained up to class 8th. But as per this amendment, it gave power to the states to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy.

It also recommended a greater autonomy for higher educational institutions and an increase in the national annual outlay for education to 6%.

Reforms In The Existing Education System

In 2020, the National Education Policy (NEP) was introduced which brought several reforms in education in India. The 10+2 model has been replaced by a 5+3+3+4 model. There is emphasis on one’s mother tongue and regional languages will be used as a medium of instruction, along with English and Hindi, till the 5th class.

Till the 2nd standard, there will be activity-based learning. There is more focus on vocational training and several other fields.

From the 6th-8th standards, students will explore different vocational activities like carpentry, metal work, pottery, electric work, gardening etc. Also, they will be given internship opportunities for learning vocational subjects, along with coding.

For those in the 9th-12th standard, there is an opportunity to choose different subjects, rather than diving into one of the three broad categories i.e., science, humanities and commerce.

Discussions are on for the implementation of this policy by 2022.

Bihar had the lowest literacy rate in 2001, 47%, and Kerala had the highest literacy rate, 90.9%. Among the union territories, Lakshadweep had the highest literacy rate, 86.7%, whereas Dadra and Nagar Haveli had the lowest, 57.6%.

So, I would conclude that there has been a lot of progress, but there is still a lot more to do.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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