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State Schools in India

Submitted: September 2013

State schools (also known as Public or Government schools) are either partially or fully funded by the State. In India, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act imposes obligations on the appropriate government and local authorities to provide means of education to all children in the six to fourteen age group. The quality of state schools in India ranges drastically with a few top-notch institutions to the abysmally poor. They may be broken down and considered in the following categories:

  • Kindergarten – this is voluntary and last for two years (for three to five year-olds).
  • Primary school – this marks the start of free and compulsory education and ranges from first to fifth grade (for six to ten-year-olds).
  • Middle school – this ranges from fifth to eighth grade which marks the end of free and compulsory education (for eleven to fourteen year-olds).
  • Secondary school – this includes ninth and tenth grades, at the end of which local examinations are done (for fourteen to sixteen year-olds).
  • Higher secondary or pre-university – this includes eleventh and twelfth grades (for sixteen to eighteen year-olds). This is when students choose an academic area on which to focus.

If your child attends a state school, he will be likely to follow the curriculum outlined by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is the main governing body for the education system in India. The curriculum is likely to be taught in English as it is becoming the preferred medium of instruction in many schools although a significant number still use the mother tongue (Hindi) to deliver instructions. This curriculum system outlined by this board is made up of several subject areas such as Languages, Social Sciences, Arts, Education, Health and Physical Education among others, with a strong emphasis on Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

Generally, students in state schools are prepared to sit examinations which are administered by the CBSE. The two main examinations are the All India Secondary School Examination, which is done in Grade ten and corresponds to the completion of secondary school, and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination which is done in Grade twelve and serves as a requirement for undergraduate studies. The board also conducts other examinations for entry into professional colleges in India for fields such as Medicine, Engineering, Law and Management, which tend to be very competitive.

For students with disabilities, many policies are in place to provide them with the right to an education as stipulated by the Disability Act of India. Where possible, students with disabilities are integrated into public schools and in other cases they attend special schools which are equipped with vocational facilities and non-formal education. Students with disabilities are entitled to free education, including school materials until they are eighteen years old, and have the right to appropriate transportation, removal of architectural barriers, as well as the restructuring of the curriculum and modifications in the examination system. To access these facilities, parents must present a ‘disability certificate’ which can be obtained at a public hospital in India.

Admission procedures for each school vary greatly. Schools often start accepting applications within a six-month period leading up to June, the start of the academic year. Since state schools are often last resort for most parents who cannot afford other means of education, acceptance rates tend to be high. Documents which are usually required include a birth certificate and previous report card or certificate, however in accordance with the Right to Education Act, students should not be denied acceptance based on the premise of outstanding documents.

You should note that the public education system in India faces serious challenges such as a lack of adequate infrastructure and facilities, insufficient funding, and staff shortages which leads to class sizes which exceeds international norms. In addition to this, most schools have a strong focus on academic subjects, with little scope for creativity and extra-curricular activities tend to be lacking. Traditional schooling methods tend to focus on rote learning rather than independent thinking, and there is a strong focus on examination which makes schooling environment very competitive. Local parents have mixed feelings about the public school system and opt for lower-end private schools. Likewise, many expats in India prefer private or international schools, as most believe state schools may not meet the educational standards they have established for their children.

 

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