The cornerstone of a country's progress is education, and India's educational system has advanced significantly since its beginnings. It has undergone a number of changes throughout the years in an effort to suit the different demands of its sizable population. Although the nation has made considerable strides in improving access to education, it still faces several obstacles that limit its ability to offer high-quality education to everyone.

India's education system has a rich historical legacy, dating back to ancient times when institutions like Nalanda and Takshashila were centres of learning and attracted scholars from across the world. However, the modern education system in India was primarily shaped during the British colonial era.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay introduced the English language and the modern educational system to India in the 1830s. Science and mathematics were the only "modern" disciplines taught in the curriculum; metaphysics and philosophy were viewed as useless. The strong bond between the instructor and the student, as well as the confinement of teaching to classrooms, severed the connection with nature.

The first board to be established in India was the Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education, which had authority over Rajputana, Central India, and Gwalior. The Rajputana Board of High School and Intermediate Education was created in 1929. Later, several of the states formed boards. But later, in 1952, the board's charter was changed, and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) became its new name. The Board oversaw all of the schools in Delhi and several other areas. The Board had the authority to make decisions about the curriculum, textbooks, and testing procedures for all of its linked schools.

The new administration of the Republic of India has a long-held goal of providing universal and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. This is clear from the fact that article 45 of the constitution includes it as a directive policy. But even more than 50 years later, this goal is still far away. But in recent years, it appears that the government has taken this omission seriously and made basic education a Fundamental Right of every Indian citizen. The government's decision to take this action must have been influenced by the strains of economic expansion and the severe shortage of competent and educated labour.

The Commercialization

Education is the foundation upon which the progress and prosperity of a nation rests. In India, the pursuit of knowledge has been held in high regard throughout history. However, in recent times, there has been a growing concern that the Indian education system has been increasingly commercialised, with education institutions prioritising profits over the holistic development of students. Over the past few decades, the Indian education landscape has witnessed a significant transformation. From small, community-driven schools to large, corporate-run educational conglomerates, the sector has experienced a commercial revolution.

Several factors have contributed to the commercialization of education:

Privatisation: The increasing privatisation of education has led to the emergence of profit-oriented institutions, which often prioritise financial gains over the welfare of students.

Fee Structure: The escalating cost of education, particularly in professional courses and elite schools, has made education inaccessible for many deserving students, pushing them into the clutches of student loans and debt.

Coaching Culture: The mushrooming of coaching centres and tuition classes has become a lucrative business, fueling a belief that academic success is synonymous with enrolment in these additional classes.

Placement Pressure: Educational institutions, especially professional colleges, are under pressure to ensure high placement rates, attracting students with promises of job placements and lucrative salaries.

To address the growing perception of education as a business, it is crucial to reimagine and revitalise the Indian education system as a means of empowerment and societal development. Stricter regulations and monitoring mechanisms can be implemented to ensure that educational institutions prioritise academic excellence and the well-being of students over financial gains. Increased public investment in education can help bridge the gap between affordable and premium education, making quality education accessible to all. Encouraging a holistic approach to education, emphasising skill development, critical thinking, creativity, and values can produce well-rounded individuals.  Empowering teachers with proper training, resources, and support can positively impact the quality of education and create a nurturing learning environment. While the commercialization of education is a real concern, it is essential to remember that not all educational institutions fall into this category. Many schools and colleges in India still uphold the noble ideals of education as a means of empowerment and nation-building. To ensure a brighter future for the country, it is imperative for policymakers, educators, parents, and society as a whole to work together in creating an education system that prioritises the overall development of students, instils values, and fosters a love for learning, thereby empowering the next generation to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

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