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Research Topics & Ideas: Education

170+ Research Ideas To Fast-Track Your Project

Topic Kickstarter: Research topics in education

If you’re just starting out exploring education-related topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll help kickstart your research topic ideation process by providing a hearty list of research topics and ideas , including examples from actual dissertations and theses..

PS – This is just the start…

We know it’s exciting to run through a list of research topics, but please keep in mind that this list is just a starting point . To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , and a viable plan of action to fill that gap.

If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch. Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help, consider our 1-on-1 coaching service .

Overview: Education Research Topics

  • How to find a research topic (video)
  • List of 50+ education-related research topics/ideas
  • List of 120+ level-specific research topics 
  • Examples of actual dissertation topics in education
  • Tips to fast-track your topic ideation (video)
  • Free Webinar : Topic Ideation 101
  • Where to get extra help

Education-Related Research Topics & Ideas

Below you’ll find a list of education-related research topics and idea kickstarters. These are fairly broad and flexible to various contexts, so keep in mind that you will need to refine them a little. Nevertheless, they should inspire some ideas for your project.

  • The impact of school funding on student achievement
  • The effects of social and emotional learning on student well-being
  • The effects of parental involvement on student behaviour
  • The impact of teacher training on student learning
  • The impact of classroom design on student learning
  • The impact of poverty on education
  • The use of student data to inform instruction
  • The role of parental involvement in education
  • The effects of mindfulness practices in the classroom
  • The use of technology in the classroom
  • The role of critical thinking in education
  • The use of formative and summative assessments in the classroom
  • The use of differentiated instruction in the classroom
  • The use of gamification in education
  • The effects of teacher burnout on student learning
  • The impact of school leadership on student achievement
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student outcomes
  • The role of teacher collaboration in improving student outcomes
  • The implementation of blended and online learning
  • The effects of teacher accountability on student achievement
  • The effects of standardized testing on student learning
  • The effects of classroom management on student behaviour
  • The effects of school culture on student achievement
  • The use of student-centred learning in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student outcomes
  • The achievement gap in minority and low-income students
  • The use of culturally responsive teaching in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher professional development on student learning
  • The use of project-based learning in the classroom
  • The effects of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The use of adaptive learning technology in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher turnover on student learning
  • The effects of teacher recruitment and retention on student learning
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic success
  • The impact of parental involvement on student engagement
  • The use of positive reinforcement in education
  • The impact of school climate on student engagement
  • The role of STEM education in preparing students for the workforce
  • The effects of school choice on student achievement
  • The use of technology in the form of online tutoring

Level-Specific Research Topics

Looking for research topics for a specific level of education? We’ve got you covered. Below you can find research topic ideas for primary, secondary and tertiary-level education contexts. Click the relevant level to view the respective list.

Research Topics: Pick An Education Level

Primary education.

  • Investigating the effects of peer tutoring on academic achievement in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of mindfulness practices in primary school classrooms
  • Examining the effects of different teaching strategies on primary school students’ problem-solving skills
  • The use of storytelling as a teaching strategy in primary school literacy instruction
  • The role of cultural diversity in promoting tolerance and understanding in primary schools
  • The impact of character education programs on moral development in primary school students
  • Investigating the use of technology in enhancing primary school mathematics education
  • The impact of inclusive curriculum on promoting equity and diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of outdoor education programs on environmental awareness in primary school students
  • The influence of school climate on student motivation and engagement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of early literacy interventions on reading comprehension in primary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student achievement in primary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of inclusive education for students with special needs in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of teacher-student feedback on academic motivation in primary schools
  • The role of technology in developing digital literacy skills in primary school students
  • Effective strategies for fostering a growth mindset in primary school students
  • Investigating the role of parental support in reducing academic stress in primary school children
  • The role of arts education in fostering creativity and self-expression in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of early childhood education programs on primary school readiness
  • Examining the effects of homework on primary school students’ academic performance
  • The role of formative assessment in improving learning outcomes in primary school classrooms
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic outcomes in primary school
  • Investigating the effects of classroom environment on student behavior and learning outcomes in primary schools
  • Investigating the role of creativity and imagination in primary school curriculum
  • The impact of nutrition and healthy eating programs on academic performance in primary schools
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on primary school students’ well-being and academic performance
  • The role of parental involvement in academic achievement of primary school children
  • Examining the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior in primary school
  • The role of school leadership in creating a positive school climate Exploring the benefits of bilingual education in primary schools
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in developing critical thinking skills in primary school students
  • The role of inquiry-based learning in fostering curiosity and critical thinking in primary school students
  • The effects of class size on student engagement and achievement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of recess and physical activity breaks on attention and learning in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of outdoor play in developing gross motor skills in primary school children
  • The effects of educational field trips on knowledge retention in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of inclusive classroom practices on students’ attitudes towards diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of parental involvement in homework on primary school students’ academic achievement
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different assessment methods in primary school classrooms
  • The influence of physical activity and exercise on cognitive development in primary school children
  • Exploring the benefits of cooperative learning in promoting social skills in primary school students

Secondary Education

  • Investigating the effects of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic success in secondary education
  • The role of social media in enhancing communication and collaboration among secondary school students
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of technology integration on teaching and learning in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of interdisciplinary instruction in promoting critical thinking skills in secondary schools
  • The impact of arts education on creativity and self-expression in secondary school students
  • The effectiveness of flipped classrooms in promoting student learning in secondary education
  • The role of career guidance programs in preparing secondary school students for future employment
  • Investigating the effects of student-centered learning approaches on student autonomy and academic success in secondary schools
  • The impact of socio-economic factors on educational attainment in secondary education
  • Investigating the impact of project-based learning on student engagement and academic achievement in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of multicultural education on cultural understanding and tolerance in secondary schools
  • The influence of standardized testing on teaching practices and student learning in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior and academic engagement in secondary education
  • The influence of teacher professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of extracurricular activities in promoting holistic development and well-roundedness in secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models on student engagement and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of physical education in promoting physical health and well-being among secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of gender on academic achievement and career aspirations in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of multicultural literature in promoting cultural awareness and empathy among secondary school students
  • The impact of school counseling services on student mental health and well-being in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of vocational education and training in preparing secondary school students for the workforce
  • The role of digital literacy in preparing secondary school students for the digital age
  • The influence of parental involvement on academic success and well-being of secondary school students
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on secondary school students’ well-being and academic success
  • The role of character education in fostering ethical and responsible behavior in secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of digital citizenship education on responsible and ethical technology use among secondary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of educational technology in promoting personalized learning experiences in secondary schools
  • The impact of inclusive education on the social and academic outcomes of students with disabilities in secondary schools
  • The influence of parental support on academic motivation and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of school climate in promoting positive behavior and well-being among secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of peer mentoring programs on academic achievement and social-emotional development in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of teacher-student relationships on student motivation and achievement in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning programs in promoting civic engagement among secondary school students
  • The impact of educational policies on educational equity and access in secondary education
  • Examining the effects of homework on academic achievement and student well-being in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of different assessment methods on student performance in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of single-sex education on academic performance and gender stereotypes in secondary schools
  • The role of mentoring programs in supporting the transition from secondary to post-secondary education

Tertiary Education

  • The role of student support services in promoting academic success and well-being in higher education
  • The impact of internationalization initiatives on students’ intercultural competence and global perspectives in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of active learning classrooms and learning spaces on student engagement and learning outcomes in tertiary education
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning experiences in fostering civic engagement and social responsibility in higher education
  • The influence of learning communities and collaborative learning environments on student academic and social integration in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of undergraduate research experiences in fostering critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills
  • Investigating the effects of academic advising and mentoring on student retention and degree completion in higher education
  • The role of student engagement and involvement in co-curricular activities on holistic student development in higher education
  • The impact of multicultural education on fostering cultural competence and diversity appreciation in higher education
  • The role of internships and work-integrated learning experiences in enhancing students’ employability and career outcomes
  • Examining the effects of assessment and feedback practices on student learning and academic achievement in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty-student relationships on student success and well-being in tertiary education
  • The impact of college transition programs on students’ academic and social adjustment to higher education
  • The impact of online learning platforms on student learning outcomes in higher education
  • The impact of financial aid and scholarships on access and persistence in higher education
  • The influence of student leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities on personal development and campus engagement
  • Exploring the benefits of competency-based education in developing job-specific skills in tertiary students
  • Examining the effects of flipped classroom models on student learning and retention in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of online collaboration and virtual team projects in developing teamwork skills in tertiary students
  • Investigating the effects of diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus climate and student experiences in tertiary education
  • The influence of study abroad programs on intercultural competence and global perspectives of college students
  • Investigating the effects of peer mentoring and tutoring programs on student retention and academic performance in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effectiveness of active learning strategies in promoting student engagement and achievement in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models and hybrid courses on student learning and satisfaction in higher education
  • The role of digital literacy and information literacy skills in supporting student success in the digital age
  • Investigating the effects of experiential learning opportunities on career readiness and employability of college students
  • The impact of e-portfolios on student reflection, self-assessment, and showcasing of learning in higher education
  • The role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning experiences in tertiary classrooms
  • The impact of research opportunities on undergraduate student engagement and pursuit of advanced degrees
  • Examining the effects of competency-based assessment on measuring student learning and achievement in tertiary education
  • Examining the effects of interdisciplinary programs and courses on critical thinking and problem-solving skills in college students
  • The role of inclusive education and accessibility in promoting equitable learning experiences for diverse student populations
  • The role of career counseling and guidance in supporting students’ career decision-making in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty diversity and representation on student success and inclusive learning environments in higher education

Research topic idea mega list

Education-Related Dissertations & Theses

While the ideas we’ve presented above are a decent starting point for finding a research topic in education, they are fairly generic and non-specific. So, it helps to look at actual dissertations and theses in the education space to see how this all comes together in practice.

Below, we’ve included a selection of education-related research projects to help refine your thinking. These are actual dissertations and theses, written as part of Master’s and PhD-level programs, so they can provide some useful insight as to what a research topic looks like in practice.

  • From Rural to Urban: Education Conditions of Migrant Children in China (Wang, 2019)
  • Energy Renovation While Learning English: A Guidebook for Elementary ESL Teachers (Yang, 2019)
  • A Reanalyses of Intercorrelational Matrices of Visual and Verbal Learners’ Abilities, Cognitive Styles, and Learning Preferences (Fox, 2020)
  • A study of the elementary math program utilized by a mid-Missouri school district (Barabas, 2020)
  • Instructor formative assessment practices in virtual learning environments : a posthumanist sociomaterial perspective (Burcks, 2019)
  • Higher education students services: a qualitative study of two mid-size universities’ direct exchange programs (Kinde, 2020)
  • Exploring editorial leadership : a qualitative study of scholastic journalism advisers teaching leadership in Missouri secondary schools (Lewis, 2020)
  • Selling the virtual university: a multimodal discourse analysis of marketing for online learning (Ludwig, 2020)
  • Advocacy and accountability in school counselling: assessing the use of data as related to professional self-efficacy (Matthews, 2020)
  • The use of an application screening assessment as a predictor of teaching retention at a midwestern, K-12, public school district (Scarbrough, 2020)
  • Core values driving sustained elite performance cultures (Beiner, 2020)
  • Educative features of upper elementary Eureka math curriculum (Dwiggins, 2020)
  • How female principals nurture adult learning opportunities in successful high schools with challenging student demographics (Woodward, 2020)
  • The disproportionality of Black Males in Special Education: A Case Study Analysis of Educator Perceptions in a Southeastern Urban High School (McCrae, 2021)

As you can see, these research topics are a lot more focused than the generic topic ideas we presented earlier. So, in order for you to develop a high-quality research topic, you’ll need to get specific and laser-focused on a specific context with specific variables of interest.  In the video below, we explore some other important things you’ll need to consider when crafting your research topic.

Get 1-On-1 Help

If you’re still unsure about how to find a quality research topic within education, check out our Research Topic Kickstarter service, which is the perfect starting point for developing a unique, well-justified research topic.

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

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Primary Education in India: Progress and Challenges

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Urvashi sahni urvashi sahni nonresident fellow - global economy and development , center for universal education @urvashi_sahni.

January 20, 2015

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived . After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress , an independent public policy institution based in India.

In recent decades India has made significant progress on access to schooling and enrollment rates in primary education but dropout rates and low levels of learning remain challenges for the state and central government. As the U.S. has a longer history of public education than India there are opportunities for India to learn from the successes and failures in the American education system and to collaborate in tackling shared challenges, such as the best use of technology in primary education.

Primary school enrollment in India has been a success story, largely due to various programs and drives to increase enrolment even in remote areas. With enrollment reaching at least 96 percent since 2009, and girls making up 56 percent of new students between 2007 and 2013, it is clear that many problems of access to schooling have been addressed. Improvements to infrastructure have been a priority to achieve this and India now has 1.4 million schools and 7.7 million teachers so that 98 percent of habitations have a primary school (class I-V) within one kilometer and 92 percent have an upper primary school (class VI-VIII) within a three-kilometer walking distance.

Despite these improvements, keeping children in school through graduation is still an issue and dropout rates continue to be high. Nationally 29 percent of children drop out before completing five years of primary school, and 43 percent before finishing upper primary school. High school completion is only 42 percent. This lands India among the top five nations for out-of-school children of primary school age, with 1.4 million 6 to 11 year olds not attending school. In many ways schools are not equipped to handle the full population – there is a teacher shortage of 689,000 teachers in primary schools, only 53 percent of schools have functional girls’ toilets and 74 percent have access to drinking water.

Additionally, the quality of learning is a major issue and reports show that children are not achieving class-appropriate learning levels. According to Pratham’s Annual Status of Education 2013 report, close to 78 percent of children in Standard III and about 50 percent of children in Standard V cannot yet read Standard II texts. Arithmetic is also a cause for concern as only 26 percent students in Standard V can do a division problem. Without immediate and urgent help, these children cannot effectively progress in the education system, and so improving the quality of learning in schools is the next big challenge for both the state and central governments.

Improving learning will require attention to many things, including increasing teacher accountability. According to school visits teacher attendance is just 85 percent in primary and middle schools and raising the amount of time teachers spend on-task and increasing their responsibility for student learning also needs improvement. Part of this process requires better assessments at each grade level and more efficient monitoring and support systems. Overall, the public school system also needs a better general management system.

India also faces many challenges that could be tackled through the education system. For one gender issues have come to the fore because of the spate of recent cases of violence against girls. Changing gender mindsets seems to be imperative and gender studies education is one way of doing so. Also India, along with most countries, is concerned with the future of the labor market and employability; Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi wants to emphasize skill development in order to make school education more practically relevant.

Areas of Collaboration

Many of India’s concerns about education are shared by the U.S., such as ensuring quality, improving teacher capabilities, effective use of technology, and improving management systems. The US and India can achieve better learning outcomes if they pool their experience and resources – both intellectual and economic.

Leveraging technology : Both the U.S. and India are looking for solutions to provide high-quality learning opportunities to marginalized students. Technology has a lot of potential to improve education but how it can be implemented most effectively and in the case of India, most cost-effectively, still remains a question. There are several initiatives in India, by NGOs, like the Azim Premji Foundation & Digital Studyhall, and corporations like ILFS, Educom, Intel, Medialabs, to mention just a few, in content creation, teacher training and classroom learning. So far philanthropists and incubators are the ones who have helped to identify and scale best practices. A more officially driven effort is required to evaluate digital content and even more importantly to develop cost effective methods of making these available to teachers and students in areas where resources are scarce. Prime Minister Modi has shown a keen interest in this area, mentioning the need for ‘digital classrooms’ several times in his speeches in India and abroad. Given the issues of scale in terms of numbers and geography, which India needs to tackle in order to reach all her children and make sure they are learning effectively, technology definitely has an important role to play. The U.S. and India could collaborate and work to understand together how technology might be leveraged to improve student learning, teacher training, monitoring and support, management of schools and the quality of learning, especially in remote districts. The U.S. already has much experience in providing technology to schools and India could learn from its successes and failures. Furthermore, collaboration with the U.S. could help promote research in this area and build the evidence base in India.

Teacher education : The lack of learning in India’s schools call for changes to teacher education. A collaboration between American universities’ schools of education with Indian teacher training institutes could help build capacity and upgrade teacher education both in terms of curriculum and pedagogy, which is much needed in Indian teacher education institutions like the District Institutes of Education and Training. Such collaborations could be facilitated through technology, collaborative research projects, teacher exchanges, and subsidized online courses for teachers in India by universities in the United States.

Building good assessment systems : Good assessments are useful at the classroom level for teachers to gauge their students’ understanding and also to inform policy. The need for regular and useful assessments in India is something that Indian departments of education are focusing on at the central and state level. The U.S. could share lessons learned on how to make assessments as effective as possible in terms of assessment design, implementation and management of data.

Gender studies education : The state of women in India has recently drawn a lot of attention and promoting gender equality through education has an important role to play. Boys and girls should be taught to think about gender equality from an early age and the curriculum should include gender studies with appropriate teacher training. The U.S. could share its experiences of promoting gender equality through schools and help advance both action and research.

Skills Development : As making education more practically relevant to the labor market is a priority for Prime Minister Modi, there is much India can learn from experiences in the United States. A shared agenda of helping identify and implement improved ways to develop skills and competencies even at the school level could be an important area for collaboration.

Resources : Currently spending on education is low in India, and stands at 3.4 percent of the GDP. The U.S. might be able to help make it more of a priority, and nudge the government to increase spending on education.

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Press release

UNESCO launches 2021 State of the Education Report for India: No Teacher, No Class

research topics in education in india

New Delhi, 5 October 2021: Today, on the occasion of World Teacher’s Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched its 2021 State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teacher, No Class” .  

This publication is the annual flagship report of UNESCO New Delhi and it is based on extensive research. 

This third edition of the State of Education Report, focused on the theme of teachers, teaching and teacher education, underscores that the work of teaching is complex. It   attempts to provide an understanding of key aspects of the teaching profession, provides a profile of the 9.6 million teaching workforce, as well as the challenges of their intricate teaching routine and their professional development. 

The National Education Policy (NEP) , adopted in 2020, acknowledges teachers as crucial elements in the learning process, while stressing the importance of their recruitment, continuous professional development, good work environment and service conditions. 

With an in-depth analysis of the current state of teachers in India, highlighting best practices, the UNESCO State of the Education report for India 2021 aims to serve as a reference for enhancing the implementation of the NEP and towards the realization of the SDG.4 target 4c on teachers.

The report also looks at teachers’ experience of ICT and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the teaching profession. The ongoing pandemic has drawn attention to the centrality of the profession and the importance of quality of teaching. During this unprecedented health crisis, most teachers were found to have positive attitudes and beliefs about integrating technology in education, even though they perceived a lack of professional skills.   

The report concludes with a set of ten action-oriented recommendations to address the challenges facing the teaching profession in India, and thus help achieve the NEP 2020 vision and objective – “Ensuring quality education for all in the country”. 

The ten recommendations are: 

  • Improve the terms of employment of teachers in both public and private schools
  • Increase the number of teachers and improve working conditions in North Eastern states, rural areas and 'aspirational districts' 
  • Recognize teachers as frontline workers 
  • Increase the number of physical education, music, art, vocational education, early childhood and special education teachers. 
  • Value the professional autonomy of teachers
  • Build teachers' career pathways
  • Restructure pre-service professional development and strengthen curricular and pedagogical reform
  • Support communities of practice
  • Provide teachers with meaningful ICT training
  • Develop teaching governance through consultative processes, based on mutual accountability

The substance of the Report has been developed by an expert team of researchers in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, under the guidance of the UNESCO Office in New Delhi.  

To illustrate the report, the following audio-visual package is also available free of copyright :

1.     Summary video underlining the recommendations of the Report  2.    Short capsules

  • Recognize teachers as frontline workers
  • Increase the number of teachers in physical education, music, art, vocational education, early childhood and special education

3.    Teasers 

  • What qualities do you look for in a good teacher - Student voices
  • What qualities do you look for in a good teacher – Teacher voices  

Note to the Editors UNESCO has made the supply of well-trained, supported and qualified teachers one of its top priorities. This focus has been reinforced by Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education through the Education 2030 Framework for Action .    UNESCO hosts the International Task Force on Teachers  (link is external) for Education 2030 and they work together to address the “teacher gap” as well as tackle the issues raised in target 4.c and in the Incheon Declaration , which specifically calls for Member States to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems”.

Previous editions

  • N for Nose: State of the Education Report for India, 2019
  • Vocational Education First: State of the Education Report for India, 2020


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

In this spirit, UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance. UNESCO works so that each child and citizen has access to quality education. By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens bonds among nations. UNESCO fosters scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation. UNESCO stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development. Serving as a laboratory of ideas, UNESCO helps countries adopt international standards and manages programmes that foster the free flow of ideas and knowledge sharing.

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India is the second largest market for online education after the US.

India is the second largest market for online education after the US. Image:  Unsplash.

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  • Learning outcomes among school children in India show significant scope for improvement.
  • The Education 4.0 India report identifies key learning gaps within education and proposes several solutions.
  • A multi-stakeholder approach can bridge these gaps with a transformative framework.

The potential of digital interventions in the field of education in India is immense: the market for online education has grown four times since 2019 to $3 billion . A KPMG assessment showed that India is the second largest market for online education after the US. With conducive policies and initiatives of the Government of India, such as the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and over 5000 EdTech start-ups across the learning lifecycle , the current education environment is potent for digital transformation.

Alongside this, learning outcomes among schoolchildren show significant scope for improvement. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) of 2021 reported an average learning level of 59% in grade 3, 49% in grade 5, 42% in grade 8 and 36% in grade 10. This indicates a decline in learning levels with an increase in grade level and has far-reaching implications for young Indians’ readiness for the 21st-century workplace and India’s preparedness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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How many children in the world are getting a proper education, 'now or never': why we need to do more to save schools' 'lost generation', covid-19 has locked children out of their education with girls at highest risk.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the digital divide caused by disparate access to, and affordability of, technology infrastructure (such as internet connectivity and electricity) and devices (such as computers and mobile devices). This divide varies across geographies, demographics and communities. Additionally, students with disabilities face unique challenges due to the lack of peer support, lower concentration levels and the need for better parental support.

Enhancing learning and reducing inequities

While recognizing the huge potential of technology for enhancing learning, as well as the need to reduce inequities in educational access for all girls and boys, the Education 4.0 India initiative utilizes digital and other technologies to address learning gaps and make education accessible to all.

A joint effort between the World Economic Forum, UNICEF and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India) proposes solutions that align with, and augment and amplify, India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and the National Digital Education Architecture of 2021 .

India’s NEP 2020 aims to improve the delivery of quality education for all learners, including through digital means. From revamping the educational structure to creating a robust digital learning system, the NEP 2020 is aligned with the goals of 21st-century education. It emphasizes the development of the creative potential of each child.

Keys areas that require intervention

The report identifies four focus areas for interventions: foundational numeracy and literacy (FLN), teachers’ capacity building, school-to-work transition and connecting the unconnected. The interventions are categorised under five building blocks, namely: curriculum, content, capacity, community and digital.

Building blocks of interventions. Source: Education 4.0 India report.

1. Foundational literacy and numeracy

For instance, in FLN, a major gap identified is the lack of “byte-sized” content in early learning that can ignite a child’s interest, as well as engage parents who may not be educated.

Storytelling, read-aloud and interactive content, flip books, and the use of digital tools can address these challenges. FLN solutions are centred around the following criteria: the capability of the solution to engage the home environment and the relevant actors (parents, caregivers and community); the adaptability of the solution; whether the solution is multi-modal in nature (hybrid or phygital) so as to reach parents and communities in the remotest and most resource-challenged locations.

2. Teachers’ capacity building

Enhancing teachers’ capacity to deliver education in newer formats is essential, as is their buy-in and involvement in creating and providing tech-enabled curricula. To this end, the report suggests ways to strengthen teachers’ capacity building – for instance, by improving the quality of teachers’ training, linking training with career progression, and involving teachers in designing a holistic teachers’ capacity building programme.

According to our Future of Jobs 2018 report, more than one-half of India’s workforce will need to be re-skilled by 2022 to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

With the world’s largest youth population and more than half of the population of working age, skills development is critical for India to sustain inclusive growth and development.

In late 2018, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with India's oil and skills development minister as well as the head of business consulting company Infosys, launched a Task Force for Closing the Skills Gap in India .

India - Future of Jobs 2018

The task force brings together leaders from business, government, civil society and the education and training sectors to help future-proof India’s education and training systems. Find out more about our Closing the Skills Gap 2020 initiative.

3. School-to-work transition

The third priority area, school-to-work transition, focuses on making students job-ready in a rapidly evolving employment landscape. Nearly 85% of Indian schools have yet to implement vocational courses as part of their curriculum. This report suggests interventions using digital and hybrid models to upskill students to find a good fit with available and emerging jobs.

4. Connecting the unconnected

The global pandemic has not only made digital learning central to teaching worldwide, but it has also widened the digital divide, leaving those without devices and internet connections further behind. According to the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2020-2021 survey, only around 41.3% of schools have access to computers, and 24.5% had access to the internet in 2020-2021.

For the fourth focus area, connecting the unconnected, this report categorizes schools based on their access to digital infrastructure. It suggests interventions to enable schools at each level to get better connected.

Transforming the education sector

The Education 4.0 India initiative builds on efforts by the central and state governments and leverages their interventions. The interventions recommended by the initiative can create tremendous impact – from making education more accessible and inclusive to reducing dropout rates and improving learning outcomes by using more adaptive learning systems and community engagement.

The report presents a roadmap to enhance India’s school education ecosystem and gives out a call to action to all stakeholders in the edtech space to come together to transform the sector.

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Education in India – A Detailed Analysis

Last updated on April 21, 2024 by ClearIAS Team


This article is a detailed analysis of the Education System of India.

The post covers various aspects of the problems faced by the Indian Education sector, the Constitutional provisions related to education, and the education policies adopted by modern India.

Also read: Learning Poverty

Table of Contents

History of Education in India

India has a rich tradition of imparting knowledge.

The ‘gurukul’ was a type of education system in ancient India with shishya (students) living with the guru in the same house. Nalanda has the oldest university system of education in the world. Students from across the world were attracted to Indian knowledge systems.

Many branches of the knowledge system had their origin in India. Education was considered a higher virtue in ancient India.

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However, the renaissance and scientific thinking as happened in Europe didn’t happen in India at that time.

The British who took control of the Indian affairs by that time had different priorities. Education in British India initially lagged a lot.

However, later, the British established the modern education system still followed in India. They replaced age-old systems of education in the country with English ways . 

Still, the education system in India needs a lot of reforms.

Also read: Examination System in India

Current Status of Education in India: Data from Census 2011

Literacy Rate Trend in India

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  • Literacy rate in India as per Census 2011:  74%.
  • Literacy rate: Male: 82.1%; Female: 65.5%
  • Kerala tops the rankings, followed by Delhi, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Bihar is the lowest among states, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, etc., however, they are improving their position.
  • Bihar has a literacy rate of 63.8%, and that of women is 53.3%.
  • Literacy rates for both adults as well as youths have increased, still, the absolute number of illiterates in India is as much as India’s population was at the time of independence.
  • The gender gap in terms of literacy began to narrow first in 1991 and the pace has accelerated, however still lags far behind the global female literacy rate of 7% (UNESCO 2015).
  • There are large state variations in the gender gap.
  • However, during 2001 – 2011, the male literacy rate increased by 6 percentage points but female literacy increased by nearly 12 percentage points. Achievement in female literacy in Bihar is noteworthy: from 33% in 2001 to 53% in 2011.
  • Be that as it may, India is still lagging behind the world  literacy rate of 86.3%(UNESCO 2015).  A major group of states lies in the average rank i.e. just above the national level of 64.8 percent.  

Indian Education System: The Present Pyramidal Structure

The Indian education system can broadly be considered as a pyramidal structure:

  • Pre-primary level: 5-6 years of age.
  • Primary (elementary) level: 6-14 years of age. Elementary-level education is guaranteed by our constitution under Article 21 A . For this level, the government has introduced Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) under the Right To Education(RTE) Act.
  • Secondary level: Age group between 14-18. For this level, the government has extended SSA to secondary education in the form of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan .
  • Higher education: generally of three levels: UG→ PG→ MPhil/PhD. To cater to the requirements of higher education, the government has introduced Rashtriya Uchhattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).

Read: Examination System in India

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related to Education

Goal 4 of SDG : Education for all – ensures equitable, inclusive, and quality education along with the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

Provisions in the Indian Constitution related to Education

  • Under  Article 45 in DPSP , it was mentioned that the government should provide free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years within 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution. As this was not achieved, Article 21A was introduced by  the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 , making elementary education a fundamental right rather than a directive principle. Article 45 was amended to provide for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.
  • To implement Article 21A, the government legislated the RTE Act. Under this act, SSA – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – got a further impetus. SSA aims to provide Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time-bound manner.
  • SSA has been operational since 2000-2001. Its roots go back to 1993-1994 when the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was launched. However, under the RTE Act, it got legal backing.

RTE Act 2009

  • 86th Amendment Act 2002 introduced Article 21-A, which provides for free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act was enacted to implement this fundamental right.

Provisions of the RTE Act

  • ‘Compulsory education’ means an obligation of the government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance, and completion of  elementary education.
  • Provision for a non-admitted child to be admitted to an age-appropriate class.
  • Rational deployment of teachers, ensuring that there is no urban-rural imbalance in their postings.
  • Prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than services like decennial census, elections, etc.
  • It prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment (b) screening procedures for admission of children (c) capitation fees (d) private tuition by teachers (e) running of schools without recognition.
  • Development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the constitution, ensuring all-around development of the child, building a system of child-friendly and child-centered learning.
  • To further inclusiveness, 25% reservation is provided for disadvantaged students in private schools.

Criticisms of the RTE Act

  • Even though the RTE + SSA have increased access to schools, resulting in a high enrollment rate, dropout rates increased in tandem. However, there is inadequate attention given to this scenario.
  • There is a fear of financial burden on the government for teacher recruitment and training.
  • The grey area of teacher transfer is also not helping the cause.
  • Since all state holidays are not relevant for all localities, such a calendar preparation by local authorities can increase attendance and can also encourage local panchayats to take ownership of schools.
  • RTE students in private schools are paying extra fees as the schools claim that the government fund provided for the same is not adequate.
  • Most private schools treat RTE as charity and demand that the onus of universalizing education should be on the government’s head rather than putting pressure on them.
  • 70% of students are in government schools. So it must be fixed in priority, by providing infrastructure , teacher quality , and targeted   learning  for children from  disadvantaged  groups to provide an equitable education system.
  • Under the RTE Act, till class 8, students should not be failed in exams. This is called the No detention policy. It had reduced dropout rates.
  • There is growing criticism of the policy resulting in reducing the quality of elementary education. Hence the RTE Act was amended to scrap the policy.
  • RTE Act prioritized schooling of children only from the age of 6, thus ignoring pre-school education. Kothari Commission had recommended the establishment of a center for the development of pre-primary education in each district.
  • District Information System for Education (DISE) report states that 30% of primary and 15% of upper primary schools have higher PTRs.
  • According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, the PTR at the national level for primary schools is 23 and 27 for secondary schools. Thus PTR appears to be satisfactory, as there are sufficient teachers. However, the main issue is a balanced deployment of teachers based on student strength.
  • Even though the Student-Classroom ratio (SCR) improved in almost all of the States, there is disparity across the country.

Modern Education in India: The Evolution of the System through various policies

The British government had introduced modern education in India. From Macaulay’s minutes to Wood’s dispatch to several commissions like the Sadler Commission, 1904 Indian education policy, etc. built the foundation of the Indian education system during the colonial period.

Radhakrishnan committee

In 1948-49, the University Education Commission was constituted under Radhakrishnan . It molded the education system based on the needs of an independent India. The pre-Independent Indian education value system was catering to colonial masters. There was a need to replace Macaulayism  with the Indian value system.  ( Macaulayism is the policy of eliminating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture of a colonizing power via the education system). Some of the values mentioned in the commission were:

  • Wisdom and Knowledge 
  • Aims of the Social Order : the desired social order for which youths are being educated.
  • Love for higher values in life
  • Training for Leadership

The Independent Indian education system developed along the lines of this value framework. In the present times, where there are imminent threats of political ideologies hijacking the pedagogy of education and commercialization of education eroding value systems, it is appreciable to dust off the values promulgated by the commission. A recent controversial circular by the Central University of Kerala (CUK), directing that research topics for Ph.D. students must be by ‘national priorities’, and research in ‘irrelevant topics’ and ‘privilege areas’ must be discouraged, is a case in point.

Kothari commission

If the Radhakrishnan committee charted out the value system of the Indian education system, it was the Kothari Commission that provided the basic framework of the same. The commission provided for:

  • Standardization of educational system on 10+2+3 pattern.
  • Emphasized the need to make work experience and social/national service an integral part of education.
  • Linking of colleges to several schools in the neighborhood.
  • Equalization of opportunities to all and to achieve social and national integration .
  • Neighborhood school system without social or religious segregation and a s chool complex system integrating  primary and secondary levels of education.
  • Establishment of Indian Education Service.
  • On-the-job training of the teaching staff and efforts to raise the status of the teachers to attract talents into the profession.
  • To raise expenditure on education from 2.9% of the GDP to 6% by 1985.

This committee report paved the way for the National Educational Policy 1968 which provided the base and roadmap for further development of the education system in India.

National Educational Policy 1968

  • The policy provided for “radical restructuring” and  equalization of educational opportunities to achieve national integration and greater cultural and economic development.
  • Increase public expenditure on education to 6% of GDP.
  • Provide for better training and qualification of teachers.
  • Three-language formula : state governments should implement the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi-speaking states. Hindi was encouraged uniformly to promote a common language for all Indians.

National Educational Policy 1985

  • The policy aimed at the removal of disparities and to equalize educational opportunities, especially for women, SC and ST.
  • Launching of “Operation Blackboard”  to improve primary schools nationwide.
  • IGNOU, the Open University, was formed.
  • Adoption of the “rural university” model , based on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, to promote economic and social development at the grassroots level in rural India.

T.S.R.Subramanium committee report

  • ECCE is inconsistent across states. So all government schools should have facilities for pre-primary education, which would facilitate pre-school education by the government instead of the private sector.
  • The policy of no detention should be upheld only till class five and not till class eight.
  • There is a steep rise in teacher shortage, absenteeism, and grievances.
  • Need to constitute an Autonomous Teacher Recruitment Board.
  • Four years integrated B.Ed. the course should be introduced.
  • There is an inadequate integration of information technology (IT) and the education sector.
  • The National Skills Qualification Framework should be scaled up.
  • The choice of vocational courses should be in line with local opportunities and resources . 
  • Bringing formal certification for vocational education at par with conventional education certificates.
  • All India Education Service.
  • Existing separate laws governing individual regulators in higher education should be replaced by the said act.
  • The role of existing regulatory bodies like UGC and AICTE should be revised.
  • National Accreditation Board (NAB) subsuming the existing accreditation bodies.

Kasturirangan Report On School Education (Draft National Education Policy)

For restructuring the education system in India, the government is preparing to roll out a New Education Policy that will cater to Indian needs in the 4th Industrial Revolution by making use of its demographic dividend. Committee for Draft National Education Policy (chaired by Dr. K. Kasturirangan) submitted its report on May 31, 2019.

You can read about the National Education Policy 2020 in detail here .

School Education: 

  • Low accessibility.
  • The curriculum doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children.
  • Lack of qualified and trained teachers.
  • Substandard pedagogy.
  • Currently, most early childhood education is delivered through anganwadis and private preschools. However, there has been less focus on the educational aspects of early childhood.
  • Guidelines for up to three-year-old children.
  • Educational framework for three to eight-year-old children.
  • This would be implemented by improving and expanding the Anganwadi system and co-locating anganwadis with primary schools.
  • Expanding the ambit of the Act to all children between the ages of three to 18 years, thus including early childhood education and secondary school education.
  • There should be no detention of children till class eight. Instead, schools must ensure that children are achieving age-appropriate learning levels.
  • The current structure of school education is to be restructured based on the development needs of students.
  • 10+2+3 structure to be replaced by 5-3-3-4 design comprising: (i) five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two), (ii) three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), (iii) three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and (iv) four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).
  • The current education system solely focuses on rote learning. The curriculum load should be reduced to its essential core content.
  • Force students to concentrate only on a few subjects.
  • Do not test learning in a formative manner.
  • Cause stress among students.
  • To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, State Census Examinations in classes three, five, and eight should be established.
  • Restructure the board examinations to test only the core concept. These board examinations will be on a range of subjects. The students can choose their subjects and the semester when they want to take these board exams. The in-school final examinations may be replaced by these board examinations.
  • Although establishing primary schools in every habitation has increased access to education, it has led to the development of very small schools making it operationally complex. Hence the multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex .
  • A complex will consist of one secondary school (classes nine to twelve) and all the public schools in its neighborhood that offer education from pre-primary to class eight.
  • These will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education center.
  • Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.
  • This will ensure that resources such as infrastructure and trained teachers can be efficiently shared across a school complex.
  • A steep rise in a teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes have plagued the system.
  • Teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.
  • They will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities during school hours.
  • Existing B.Ed. the program will be replaced by a four-year integrated B.Ed. program that combines high-quality content, pedagogy, and practical training. An integrated continuous professional development will also be developed for all subjects.
  • Separating the regulation of schools from aspects such as policymaking, school operations, and academic development.
  • Independent State School Regulatory Authority for each state will prescribe basic uniform standards for public and private schools.
  • The Department of Education of the State will formulate policy and conduct monitoring and supervision.

Higher Education

  • According to the All India Survey on Higher Education , the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India has increased from 20.8% in 2011-12 to 25.8% in 2017-18. Lack of access is a major reason behind the low intake of higher education. The policy aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035.
  • Multiple regulators with overlapping mandates reduce the autonomy of higher educational institutions and create an environment of dependency and centralized decision-making.
  • The National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) should replace the existing individual regulators in higher education. Thus the role of all professional councils such as AICTE would be limited to setting standards for professional practice. The role of the UGC will be limited to providing grants.
  • Separate the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) from the UGC into an independent and autonomous body. It will function as the top-level accreditor and will issue licenses to different accreditation institutions. All existing higher education institutions should be accredited by 2030.
  • Replacing the current system of establishing higher educational institutions by Parliament or state legislatures. Instead, institutions can be set up through a Higher Education Institution Charter from NHERA.
  • Research universities focus equally on research and teaching.
  • Universities focus primarily on teaching.
  • Colleges focus only on teaching at undergraduate levels.
  • All such institutions will gradually move towards full autonomy.
  • Total investment in research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014. India also lags behind many nations in the number of researchers, patents, and publications.
  • NRF will act as an autonomous body for funding, mentoring, and building the capacity for quality research.
  • Undergraduate programs should be made interdisciplinary by redesigning their curriculum to include: a common core curriculum; and one/two area(s) of specialization.
  • Introduce four-year undergraduate programs in Liberal Arts.
  • By the next five years, five Indian Institutes of Liberal Arts must be set up as model multidisciplinary liberal arts institutions.
  • Poor service conditions and heavy teaching loads, augmented by a lack of autonomy and no clear career progression system, have resulted in low faculty motivation.
  • Introduction of a Continuous Professional Development program and permanent employment track system for faculty in all higher education institutions by 2030.
  • The student-teacher ratio of not more than 30:1 must be ensured.
  • All higher education institutions must have complete autonomy on curricular, pedagogical, and resource-related matters.

Read: Institutions of Eminence Scheme

Additional Key Focus Areas:

Additional key focus areas are (1) Technology in Education (2) Vocational Education (3) Adult Education and (4) the Promotion of Indian Languages.

Technology in Education

  • Improving the classroom process of teaching, learning, and evaluation
  • Aiding teacher training.
  • Improving access to education.
  • Improving the overall planning, administration, and management of the entire education system.
  • Electrification of all educational institutions paves the way for technology induction.
  • An autonomous body, the National Education Technology Forum, set up under the Mission, will facilitate decision-making on the use of technology.
  • Single online digital repository to make available copyright-free educational resources in multiple languages.

Vocational Education

  • Less than 5% of the workforce in the age group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India, in contrast to 52% in the USA, 75% in Germany and 96% in South Korea.
  • Vocational courses : All school students must receive vocational education in at least one vocation in grades 9 to 12.
  • Higher Education Institutions must offer vocational courses that are integrated into undergraduate education programs.
  • The draft Policy targets to offer vocational education to up to 50% of the total enrolment in higher education institutions by 2025, up from the present level of enrolment of below 10%.
  • National Committee for the Integration of Vocational Education for charting out plans for the above objectives.

Adult Education

As per Census 2011, India had a total of 26.5 crore adult non-literate (15 years and above).

  • Establishing an autonomous  Central Institute of Adult Education as a constituent unit of NCERT. It will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education.
  • Adult Education Centers will be included within the school complexes.
  • Relevant courses are made available at the National Institute of Open Schooling.
  • National Adult Tutors Programme to build a cadre of adult education instructors and managers.

Education and Indian Languages

  • The medium of instruction must be the mother tongue until grade 5, and preferably until grade 8.
  • 3 language formula be continued and flexibility in the implementation of the formula should be provided. Implementation of the formula needs to be strengthened, particularly in Hindi-speaking states. Schools in Hindi-speaking areas should also teach Indian languages from other parts of India for national integration.
  • To promote Indian languages, a National Institute for Pali, Persian, and Prakrit will be set up.
  • The mandate of the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology will be expanded to include all fields and disciplines to strengthen vocabulary in Indian languages.

Transforming Education

The policy talked about the synergistic functioning of India’s education system, to deliver equity and excellence at all levels, from vision to implementation, led by a new Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog.

Education Governance

Revitalize education governance by bringing in synergy and coordination among the different ministries, departments, and agencies.

  • Constitute the National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog, as an apex body for education headed by the Prime Minister. It would be responsible for developing, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education and overseeing the implementation and functioning of bodies including the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), National Higher Education Regulatory Authority, and National Research Foundation.
  • The Ministry of Human Resources and Development must be renamed the Ministry of Education to bring the focus back on education.

Financing Education

  • The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment to spending 6% of GDP as a public investment in education.
  • The draft Policy seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years. 5% will be utilized for higher education, 2% in school education, and 1.4% for early childhood care and education.
  • There should be optimal and timely utilization of funds through the institutional development plans and by plugging loopholes in the disbursement of funds.

Criticism of the New Education Policy of India

  • The New Education Policy lacks operational details.
  • It is not clear from where the funding will be sourced.
  • Enough importance is not given to innovation, startup culture or economic principles to be added to the curriculum.
  • One-size-fits for all states can’t be a solution as each state in India is diverse in its educational needs. Controversy on NEET has shown this.
  • With technological advancement and the democratization of knowledge, the policy should have focused more on how to teach rather than what to teach.
  • Economic Survey 2017-18 mentioned the perils of the distinction between research institutions and universities in higher education. The policy recommendation of three distinct higher education institutions of research universities, teaching universities, and teaching colleges will further augment the gap between research and universities.
  • The draft policy is silent on the Institutions of Eminence and agencies like the Higher Education Funding Agency.
  • The role of Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog should be defined clearly. What would be its role vis-a-vis existing regulators? Also, there are criticisms from some quarters that RSA will open the door to the politicization of education.
  • Earlier the 3-language formula proposed by the draft policy made Hindi compulsory in non-Hindi speaking states. However, after the furor, the proposal was removed.
  • Even though the policy talks about bringing “unrepresented groups” into school and focusing on educationally lagging “ special education zones” , it doesn’t comprehensively address the inequalities prevalent in the system. It misses methods to bridge the gaps between rich and poor children.
  • The policy proposes to remove the provision mandating that primary schools be within stipulated distance from students’ homes and common minimum infrastructure and facility standards that should be met by all schools. If a common minimum standard is not specified, it will create an environment where quality in some schools will fall further thus augmenting the inequalities between schools across the country.

India’s education history is rich with ambitious policies failing at the altar of inadequate implementation of the same. In the absence of a handholding mechanism for states to embark on the path-breaking reforms mentioned in the policy and that too in a short time, will be too much to ask.

Funding requirements and governance architecture pose major challenges in the implementation of the policy. Political commitment is required to increase funding. RTE Act expansion to include preschool should keep in mind the present infrastructure inadequacies and teacher vacancies.

Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog may face administrative problems and turf battles. Also, it will raise questions on the role of new bodies like the National Medical Council.

The recent controversy on 3 language formula shows the sensitivity of language education in India and care should be taken to appreciate the emotional overtures while implementing the same.

Politically acceptability, social desirability, technological feasibility, financial viability, administratively doability, and judicially tenability are 6 pillars that will impact the implementation of the policy.

Be that as it may, the new education policy aims to address the challenges of (i) access, (ii) equity, (iii) quality, (iv) affordability, and (v) accountability faced by the current education system. It aims to revitalize and equip the education system to meet the challenges of the 21st century and 4th industrial revolution rather than catering to 19th and 20th century needs of industrialization. Also, India is on the cusp of a demographic dividend, rather than entered into this phase. So the education system catering to these needs is not a luxury that we hope for but rather a dire need at this moment in Indian history.

The Problems associated with the Education System in India

HRD ministry: Over 1.4 million schools and 50,000 higher educational institutions are operating in India. Out of 907 universities, there are 399 state universities, 126 deemed-to-be universities, 48 central and 334 private universities.

  • Even after more than a hundred years of “ Gokhale’s Bill”1911, where universal primary education was originally mooted, India is yet to achieve this goal.
  • China had achieved it in the 1970s. As per Census 2011, over 26% of India’s population is still illiterate, compared to 4% in China. About 50% of India’s population has only primary education or less, compared to 38% in China. The 13% of the population with tertiary education at the upper end in India is comparable with China.
  • Progress has been made in respect of female participation up to secondary level and GER for girls has exceeded that of boys.
  • But the girl’s enrollment rate is lower than that of boys at the higher education level.
  • A gap is visible across social categories in terms of enrollment rate at the higher education level.
  • According to NSSO’s 71st round (2014), drop-out rates are very high for boys at the secondary school level. Reasons for the same are economic activities, lack of interest in education, and financial constraints.
  • The transition rate from secondary school to senior secondary and further to higher education is very low.

Despite these highly ambitious education policies and elaborate deliberations on the same, the outcomes are rather shaky. Major criticisms and shortcomings of these policies and their implementations are:

  • Half the population is crowded at the bottom, either illiterate or with only primary education. Meanwhile, a disproportionately large segment is at the upper end with tertiary education.
  • The 2015 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) reflects this deteriorating quality. The report opines that deficits in foundational reading and arithmetic skills are   cumulative, which leaves students grossly   handicapped for further education .
  • India had fared poorly in the Programme for International Student Assessment  (PISA) test in 2008, and 09.
  • Education policies in India are focused on inputs rather than on learning outcomes.
  • Teacher shortages.
  • Local politics.
  • Corruption in teacher appointment.
  • Defects in teacher training.
  • Socio-cultural factors like caste division, and cynical attitude towards the teaching profession.
  • There is no accountability, as there is a guaranteed lifetime job independent of performance.
  • From 1952-2012 , education expenditure as a percentage of total government expenditure increased from 7.92 to 11.7, and as a percentage of GDP increased from 0.64 to 3.31. But it has still not reached 6% of GDP, as was recommended by the Kothari Commission way back in 1964.
  • Expenditure by the government on elementary education is more than tertiary level, but expenditure per student is more in tertiary. So there is a need to increase expenditure in all segments.
  • All India survey on higher education has shown that in West Bengal Muslim students in universities are very low. Lack of education at the primary and secondary levels is said to be the main reason.
  • Even though Article 15(4),(5) provides reservations for SC, ST, and OBC in higher education institutions , the Economic Survey 2018-19 points out their inadequate representation in these institutions.
  • The suicide of Rohit Vemula, a Ph.D. scholar at the University of Hyderabad, in 2016 had brought forward the discrimination still existing in these institutions.
  • Also, the representation of teachers at these levels is skewed against the backward class in spite of reservations. Article 16(4) provides for reservations of backward class in jobs.
  • At the school level, poor children are primarily concentrated in government schools. The poor quality of government schools thus disproportionately affects these children and creates a vicious cycle of illiteracy.
  • At the higher education level, the situation is more critical. One reason for the introduction of the National Medical Commission Bill is to curb the exorbitant fees charged by medical colleges.
  • Youths coming out of the higher education system in India are not employable, as they lack relevant industry-level skills.
  • India’s long-standing neglect of primary and secondary education has limited access to quality basic education. No skill development program can succeed without an underlying foundation of basic education.
  • National Policy on  Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 (PMKVY) has shown disappointing results.
  • Budget 2019-20  stated that the government enables about 10 million youth to take up industry-relevant skill training through the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). The  Budget has also increased focus on  ‘new-age skills’  like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, and Robotic.
  • Currently, B Tech courses in AI are offered mostly in premier institutions only.
  • The budget 2019-20 proposed the National Sports Education Board for the development of sportspersons under the  Khelo India program (2017).

Now we will look at each rung of the education ladder in India.

Early childhood education

  • Early childhood education (ECE) is needed for  cognitive development in the early stage.
  • Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)  has a component for providing ECE through Anganwadis . But lack of effective regulation in this sector is eroding the quality of ECE.
  • There is a National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy 2013 . However, the policy has not been properly implemented.
  • There are multiple service providers but there is no clarity in the types of services provided.
  • The sprawling of an unregulated private channel, both organized and unorganized, which is also spreading to rural areas, has led to inequitable access, uneven quality, and commercialization of ECE.
  • Both Anganwadis and private schools focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic rather than cognitive and conceptual development.
  • There is a decline in the quality and training of teachers.
  • S.R. Subramanian’s committee report has brought focus to the quality deterioration in this sector.

Primary level

  • There is an increasing trend of parents choosing private schools for the primary level. However, there is variable quality in private schools. Also, fees vary from school to school and are on the higher side.
  • Eschew rigid curricula and make them more cognitive and flexible. There should be a broader cognitive approach than rote learning.
  • There is a need for activity-based learning. Teachers should teach at the right level, rather than teaching for the average learner.
  • The government has launched Padhe Bharat Bade Bharat –  targeting early reading and writing. The twin-track  approach of comprehension and math is the main focus.
  • There is a supply-side problem . The government is pumping funds through government schools thus increasing the number of schools and thus enrollment. However, quality and inclusiveness have dropped and dropout rates increased. These lead to poor learning outcomes.

School Complex

  • RTE and SSA have resulted in over-access but low-quality primary-level education. Now the aim should be to integrate these into school complexes, as mentioned by the Kasturirangan committee report, thus rationalizing the number of schools in an area.
  • The ‘Adarsh’ integrated school system of Rajasthan is an example of a school complex system . Here one school provides classes from l to XII under one principal. There is one such school in every gram panchayat.
  • This is an efficient way to solve teacher shortages and also to address the shortages of secondary schools. It can also address the problem of resource scarcity by integrating and rationalizing resources.
  • Inclusive learning can be furthered through school.
  • Also, these complexes can act as a pivot around which new reforms in education can be implemented.

Secondary level

ASER Rural 2017: In 2017, ASER changed the age group of the survey from primary level to secondary level. The report mentions the following:

  • Enrollment is low in this age group. There is a high digital divide at this level. Low quality also persists at this level. There is a high amount of absenteeism as well.
  • There is a need to expand RTE to cover the 14-18 age groups.
  • To realize the demographic dividend, skill education for these groups is necessary.

Economic Survey 2018-19 points out that Indian demography is changing and it requires more quality secondary education system rather than merely an increasing number of primary-level schools.

Private fees

  • The vagueness in the judgment regarding ‘reasonable surplus’ and ‘commercialization’ of education has watered down the outcome of the judgment.
  • There are state laws for capping fees. However, implementation problems and litigation make them ineffective.
  • CAG report mentioned misreporting and mismanagement by private schools. So laws should address this problem through stricter inspection, penalties, etc.

Higher education

There is an increasing number of higher education institutions but their quality is questionable, effectively making ‘islands of excellence amidst the sea of mediocrity. Increased accessibility to a low-quality higher education system has made democratization of mediocrity.

Raghuram Rajan, the ex-RBI governor, argued that India needs idea factories and universities by leveraging India’s inherent strengths like tolerance, diversity, etc. He said that there is a need for strong accreditation agencies and continuing education.

Problems of the higher education system in India

  • There is a dual problem of both quality and quantity. The gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education is only 24.5.
  • Even though education policy had an elitist bias in favor of higher education, the state of the same is much worse than the state of school education. Unlike school education, there is no national survey of the learning levels of college students.
  • The desired levels of research and internationalization of Indian campuses remain weak points.
  • Also, there is a low philanthropic investment in this sector. This creates an exclusive dependency on government funding by universities. This, in turn, reduces the autonomy and vision of these universities.
  • Privatization of higher education has not been led by philanthropy but the commercial interest that does not have a symbiotic relationship with the vision of universities.
  • These have led to inadequate human capacity, shoddy infrastructure, and weak institutions. Recommendations of the Narayana Murthy committee,  on the role of the corporate sector in higher education, have not been implemented and thus channeling of CSR funds to higher education remains inadequate.
  • Banks and financial institutions are not giving adequate attention to this area. Giving PSL status to these institutions can be considered.
  • Indian higher education system is of a linear model with very little focus on specialization.
  • UGC and AICTE act more as controllers of education than facilitators.
  • Due to the mushrooming of colleges at a higher rate since the 1980s , there is a regulatory sprawl in higher education.
  • Poor governance , with mindless  over-regulation , is widespread in this sector. Educational institutions responded to this with claims of academic and institutional autonomy for themselves, which was mostly a smokescreen for a culture of sloth in these institutions.
  • There is a concentration of powers, as these regulatory institutions control all aspects like accreditation, curriculum setting, professional standard-setting, funding, etc.
  • Compartmentalization and fragmentation of the knowledge system.
  • Disconnect with society.
  • Overemphasis on entrance tests.
  • Absence of innovation in learning methods.
  • Corrosion of autonomy of universities.
  • For long basic disciplines across the physical and social sciences and humanities were ignored.
  • However, the Economic Survey 2017-18 mentioned that there is an increase in Ph.D. enrolment in India in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) due to efforts by the government to increase the number and quantum of fellowships. However, there are still fewer researchers in India in comparison to other countries.
  • Budget 2019-20 proposes ‘Study in India’  with a focus on bringing foreign students to higher educational institutions in India to make India a “hub of higher education.”
  • Higher education institutions are used as rewards for loyalists and channels of graft by political parties in power.
  • Indian higher education system is plagued by unregulated and shoddy coaching institutions. The coaching industry makes around Rs. 24000 crores a year in India. Proper regulation of the same is required.

Research and development (R&D)

Economic Survey 2017-18 stated: “To transform from net consumer to net producer of knowledge, India should invest in educating its youth in science and mathematics, reform the way R&D is conducted, engage the private sector and the Indian diaspora, and take a more mission-driven approach in areas such as dark matter, genomics, energy storage, agriculture, and mathematics and cyber-physical systems”.

  • Although Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) is consistently increasing, as a fraction of GDP it has been stagnant between 0.6-0.7  percent of GDP over the past two decades.
  • The universities play a relatively small role in the research activities in India. There is a disconnection between research institutes and universities. This results in the compartmentalization of research activities and teaching into two separate silos.
  • The  separation of research from teaching leads to a situation where universities  have students but need additional faculty support, while research institutes have qualified faculty but are starved of young students.
  • India was, at one point, spending more on R&D as a percentage of GDP than countries like China – but currently, India under-spends on R&D.
  • Doubling of R&D spending is necessary and much of the increase should come from the private sector and universities.

The need of the hour

  • It is imperative to improve math and cognitive skills at the school level to make a difference at a higher level.
  • There is a need to expand R&D in India and to go beyond paper presentations and patents to a broader contribution of providing value for society.
  • There is also a need to encourage Investigator-led Research for funding science research.  Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) 2008,  a statutory body of DST, is a step in the right direction.
  • 50:50 partnerships with SERB for industry-relevant research under the Ucchatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) is the right way to go forward.
  • It would strengthen state universities and provide knowledge in areas specific to a state.
  • National Research Foundation,  to fund, coordinate, and promote research at the college level, is proposed by the Kasturirangan report. It is reiterated in Budget 2019-20 : NRF will ensure the overall research ecosystem in the country is strengthened with a focus on areas relevant to national priorities without duplication of effort and expenditure. The funds available with all Ministries will be integrated into NRF.
  • Link national labs to universities and create new knowledge ecosystems. Together they can link up with the commercial sectors and help develop industrial clusters.
  • National Mission on Dark Matter
  • National Mission on Genomics
  • National Mission on Energy Storage Systems
  • National Mission on Mathematics
  • National Mission on Cyber-Physical Systems
  • National Mission on Agriculture
  • Ramanujan Fellowship Scheme.
  • Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research ( INSPIRE ) Faculty Scheme.
  • Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship.
  • Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty Scheme ( VAJRA ).
  • Improve the culture of research thus ‘ ease of doing research’. There is a need for less hierarchical governance systems that encourage risk-taking and curiosity in the pursuit of excellence.
  • Greater public engagement of the science and research establishment is needed. A greater effort at science communication  is needed.

Government initiatives on higher education

The government is trying to revitalize the Indian higher education system and for this many initiatives have been launched. Let’s discuss the importance of them.

National Testing Agency (NTA) 2017

  • NTA was set up for conducting entrance exams in higher educational institutions. It is based on the recommendations of the Ashok Mishra committee on IIT entrance 2015.
  • It will conduct JEE, NEET, National Eligibility Test (NET), Common Management Admission Test (CMAT), and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).
  • It will provide diversity and plurality in higher education. It will also ensure independence and transparency in conducting the exams.
  • However, it should be ensured that the computer-based test should not lead to further exploitation of rural students.
  • NEET stands for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test . It is for admissions in medical courses by replacing a plethora of medical entrance tests with one national-level test.
  • Supreme Court had said that NEET should be the sole basis for admission to medical courses.
  • There is a controversy about whether urban and CBSE students will dominate NEET. The government should pay heed to this criticism.
  • In Tamil Nadu doctors serving in rural areas get weightage in PG admission. NEET will effectively dislodge this system.
  • This controversy brought forward the conflict between the fair and transparent system of admission to curb the commercialization of medical education and the socioeconomic goals of the state, which in the case of Tamil Nadu includes ensuring enough doctors for rural areas.
  • Controversy on NEET has brought the following question to the limelight: should uniformity be thrust upon a country with such vast disparity and diversity? The political leadership should iron out the differences and produce a suitable admission policy. This task should not be left to the judiciary.
  • Be that as it may, states can’t remain insulated from the need to upgrade their education standard.

RUSA: Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan 2013

  • About 94 % of students in higher education study in 369 State universities, whereas less than 6% of students study in 150 Centrally-funded institutions.
  • 11th 5-year plan  (2007-12) opined that the center’s bias towards premier central institutions had skewed funding for these institutions mainly and thus neglected state-level institutions.
  • State investment in higher education was declining. UGC’s system of direct release of funds to State institutions bypassing State governments also leads to a sense of alienation for the states.
  • RUSA tried to correct this bias. The scheme aims at financing state institutions concerning their governance and performance.
  • RUSA has shown the result in increasing the performance of state institutions and changing the way regulators function for the good. State Higher Education Council(SHEC)  made medium-long-term state perspective plans.
  • Cabinet in 2018 decided to continue the scheme. A renewed focus by the center on RUSA will be a success only if it is impartially administered and states are willing to heed the advice of SHEC.

HECI: Higher Education Commission of India bill

  • On the recommendation of the Yashpal Committee 2010 for renovation and rejuvenation of higher education, the National Commission on Higher Education and Research bill was introduced but was not passed.
  • HECI was proposed to act as an overarching regulator of higher education by replacing UGC, which will maintain academic standards, approve new educational institutions, etc. but with no funding powers.
  • Draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Bill, 2018 was introduced in 2018. Budget 2019-20 proposed to bring a bill on HECI this year.
  • The draft bill had separated funding and placed it under MHRD. This was criticized for the fear of increasing political control and reducing the autonomy of universities.

IoE: Institutions of Eminence 2017

  • Around 2005, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings started, and in 2009 the Academic Ranking of World Universities started. From India, only the Indian Institute of Science was included in the top 500 every year. This prompted the government to introduce NIRF and IoE.
  • Under IoE, UGC was tasked to select 10 government universities and 10 private ones as IoE. These would be given autonomy in operations.
  • Selected government institutions would be provided with ₹1,000 crore over five years.
  • The IoE tag is expected to help them achieve the world’s top 500 higher education institutions in a decade and later into the top 100.
  • Institutes among the top 50 in the National Institute Ranking Framework rankings or in the top 500 in international ratings were eligible.
  • The model for the sector remains dependent on state patronage.
  • Entry into the global education race could now become an overriding concern when many systemic issues are plaguing the sector.
  • Funding only for public institutions is discriminatory.
  • Humanities institutions were neglected.
  • Transparency in the selection process, and the public sharing of benchmarks and guidelines. The furor over the selection of Jio Institute, even before it functioned, had attracted many eyeballs and criticisms.
  • Separate category to include sectoral institutions like IIM.

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2015

NIRF is a methodology adopted by the MHRD to rank higher education institutions in India.

  • NIRF is common for public and private institutions as well as state and central institutions. Comparison of state-level colleges with central and private colleges may lead to a vicious cycle of low funding, poor performance, and low ranks among state-level institutions because of the resource gap.
  • So performance index values should be normalized concerning investments and resources that have gone into that institution. Also should consider making another ranking system for state-level institutions.

HEFA: Higher Education Financing Agency 2018

Introduced in Budget 2018-19, HEFA is a joint venture of MHRD and Canara Bank

  • With an initial capital base of Rs 1,000 crores, it will act as a not-for-profit organization that will leverage funds from the market and supplement them with donations and CSR funds. These funds will be used to finance improvement in infrastructure in top institutions.
  • It has been tasked with raising ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022.

 Foreign Education Providers Bill 2013 

  • There is no account of programs delivered by foreign universities in India. Inadequate regulation has led to low-quality courses offered in this sector.
  • The foreign Institution bill was not been able to pass in Parliament. However,

EQUIP report has mentioned the revival of this bill.

There are many other schemes and initiatives like SWAYAM, which offers open online courses from Class IX to post-graduation free of cost, GIAN and IMPRINT which are primarily focused on elite institutes like IITs and IISc.

APAAR: One Nation One Student ID Card

The Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR) is a transformative initiative introduced in alignment with the National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 and the National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCrF).

It aims to provide a unified and accessible academic experience for students across India by assigning a unique and permanent 12-digit ID to every student, consolidating their academic achievements in one place.

Other Major Issues connected with the Education sector in India

The Indian education sector is also affected by other issues like the politicization of campuses, gender parity problems, poor-quality standards, etc.

Politicization of campuses

  • JP movement had provided an impetus to the politicization of students.
  • In Indian higher education institutions, university politics has become a launchpad for political ambitions.
  • Though campus politics is vital for democracy, as it makes students better citizens, the negative side of the politicization of campuses has been visible across Indian campuses. Recent incidents at Kerala University are a case in point.
  • One of the most important problems of student politics in India is that it acts as an appendage to political parties without having an independent identity or autonomy.

Gender Parity

  • By parents → who send boys to private and girls to government schools. Economic Survey 2018-19: enrollment of girls is higher than that of boys in government schools but the pattern gets reversed in private schools. The gender gap in enrollment in private schools has consistently increased across age groups.
  • By teachers → who reinforced the belief that boys are quick learners.
  • Girls are eased out of school to work on home chores or get married.
  • Economic Survey 2018-19 opines that BBBP has been a success and proposes to extend the cause of Gender equality by coining the slogan of BADLAV (Beti Aapki Dhan Lakshmi Aur Vijay-Lakshmi) to enhance the contribution of women in the workforce and the economy.
  • For ranking states based on gender disparity, Digital Gender Atlas for Advancing Girl’s Education was launched by MHRD.
  • In higher education, gender disparities still prevail in enrollment.
  • Efforts by the Government through programs like Beti Padhao, and Beti Bachao, the GPI has improved substantially at the primary and secondary levels of enrolment.

Quality of education

Learning outcomes are not assessed in India as numerical outcomes. The 12th Five-Year Plan noted the need for measuring and improving learning outcomes.

  • Children of illiterate parents can’t supplement school studies at home and also can’t afford expensive tuition, leading to a vicious cycle of illiteracy.
  • From 2014 to 2018, there was a gradual improvement in both basic literacy and numeracy for Class III students but only a quarter of them are at grade level (ability to read and do basic operations like subtraction of Class II level).
  • The report also shows that 1 out of 4 children leaving Class VIII are without basic reading skills (ability to read at least a Class II level).

Government initiatives

  • Central Rules under the RTE Act were amended in February 2017 to include the defined class-wise and subject-wise learning outcomes.
  • Nationwide sub-program of SSA to improve comprehensive early reading, writing, and early mathematics programs for children in Classes I and II.

Teacher Training

  • Teachers play the most critical role in a student’s achievement.
  • The need is for better incentives for teachers, investments in teacher capacity through stronger training programs, and addressing the problems in the teaching-learning process.
  • However, teachers in India, especially in government schools, are considered a cog in the way to efficient governance. There is an inadequate focus on their motivation and skill updation.
  • NCERT study shows that there is no systematic incorporation of teacher feedback into designing pieces of training. Also, there is no mechanism to check whether this training is translated into classroom performance.
  • These results in de-professionalizing the teaching profession and curb a teacher’s “internal responsibility” — the sense of duty to the job.
  • World Development Report on Education (2018) opined that both teaching skills and motivation matter. Individually targeted continued training is important. In line with this, MHRD and the National Council for Teacher Education launched the National Teacher Platform, or Diksha in 2017 . It is a one-stop solution to address teacher competency gaps.
  • However, the current training through Diksha follows a one-size-fits-all approach. Even though the platform is designed to democratize both access to and creation of content by teachers, its real benefits are in the ability to provide continuous professional development which complements existing physical training.
  • This technology-enabled platform allows training to become a continuous activity rather than an annual event and also creates a feedback loop ensuring the effectiveness of the material.
  • Diksha has the potential to re-engineer in-service teacher training in India. It is important to create good content and also to ensure technology consumption by teachers, the role of headmasters in promoting teachers’ professional development, etc.

As India participates in the PISA in 2021, it is to be made sure that we recognize the importance of teachers and their role in education outcomes.

Private Schools vs Public Schools: The Big Debate in Education

At least 30% of students between the 6-14 age groups are in the private sector.

  • There is an increasing perception that the quality of teaching in private schools is better than that of public schools. Thus there is a clamour for increasing the number of private schools and simultaneously limiting public spending on government schools.
  • However, the claim on the quality of private schools is debatable as there is a wide disparity of the same among these schools.

Research paper by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, professor of education and international development at the Institute of Education, London, offers insights into private-public school education in India:

  • The paper points out that between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the average enrolment in government schools declined from 122 to 108 students per school, while in private schools it rose from 202 to 208.
  • Nevertheless, according to the District Information System for Education (DISE), 65% of all school-going children, 113 million, get their education from government schools.
  • The study points out that the migration to private schools is due to the belief among parents that these schools offer better value for money in terms of quality.
  • IndiaSpend, in 2016, reported that despite the Rs 1.16 lakh crore spent on SSA, the quality of learning declined between 2009 and 2014. It also points out that less than one in five elementary school teachers in India are trained. Also, the contractual teachers, who are high in number in government schools, are likely to be less motivated and accountable.
  • Preference for private school tutoring is there.
  • The quality of schools varies between states. In 2016, in Kerala, the proportion of children enrolled in primary government schools increased from 40.6% in 2014 to 49.9% according to ASER 2016.
  • States with better-functioning government schools have more expensive private schools as there is no market for the ‘low-fee’ budget private schools. Around 80% of private schools in India are ‘low’ fee schools.
  • ASER 2016 has shown small improvements in learning outcomes in government schools.
  • Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the number of private schools grew by 35% – to 0.30 million. On the other hand, the number of government schools grew only by 1%, to 1.04 million. The migration out of government schools has left many of these economically unviable.
  • Government teachers in India earn four times that of China but don’t perform as well. Up to 80% of India’s public expenditure on education is spent on teachers. There is a need to link teacher salaries to their accountability.
  • However, the salary of private teachers is very low compared to their government counterparts. This is due to the “bureaucratically-set high ‘minimum wage’, which is being influenced by strong unions of government school teachers.
  • Another reason for the low salary of private school teachers is that the private education sector offers salaries based on market factors of demand and supply. Since 10.5% of graduates are unemployed in India, there is a high supply of teachers.
  • Rather than merely increasing the budget outlay for education, the need is to revise the Education policy for better accountability and monitoring mechanisms.
  • Gandhi argued that a Public-private partnership (PPP) model may be the solution, with public sector funding and private resources for education, since reforming the present system may not be politically feasible.

Rather than debating about private versus public schools, the focus should be to  enable the private sector to set up more schools under the scrutiny of regulatory authorities. There is no point in driving off the private initiative in schooling given the limited resources of the states. Private investment should be encouraged but made accountable for quality and conduct.

The above discussion showed the challenges of the Indian education system. A workforce that India wants to create in this digital age requires reforms in education at all levels. UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2016 opined that India is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2050. India is 50 years late in achieving its global education commitments. If the nation wants fundamental changes in the education system, it has to meet the 2030 SDG targets on education. There is an urgent requirement for greater evolution in education in India.

Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP): How to transform Education in India?

EQUIP is a  five-year vision plan on education, released by MHRD, by  the Prime Minister’s decision to create a five-year vision plan for each Ministry.

The EQUIP project is crafted by ten expert groups led by experts within and outside the government:

  • Group 1: Strategies for expanding access
  • Group 2: Towards global best teaching/learning process
  • Group 3: Promoting Excellence
  • Group 4: Governance reforms
  • Group 5: Assessment, Accreditation, and Ranking Systems
  • Group 6: Promotion of research and innovation
  • Group 7: Employability and Entrepreneurship
  • Group 8: Using Technology for Better Reach
  • Group 9: Internationalisation
  • Group 10: Financing Higher Education

The groups have suggested initiatives to transform the education system completely. The goals set by the groups are:

  • Double GER in higher education and resolve the geographically and socially skewed access to higher education institutions.
  • Upgrade the quality of education to global standards.
  • Position at least 50 Indian institutions among the top 1000 global universities.
  • Introduce governance reforms in higher education for well-administered campuses.
  • Accreditation of all institutions as an assurance of quality.
  • Promote Research and Innovation ecosystems for positioning India in the top three countries in the world in matters of knowledge creation.
  • Double the employability of the students passing out of higher education.
  • Harness education technology for expanding the reach and improving pedagogy.
  • Promote India as a global study destination.
  • Achieve a quantum increase in investment in higher education.

We can see that each of the above goals has been known to us for a long time. The problem is its implementation. The political class and all other stakeholders should come together to achieve these goals. The plethora of government initiatives on higher education is a sure sign of the importance given by the political class in the reform of the education system of India. Let’s hope that a new dawn of Indian education is around the corner which will bring back the glory of ancient times when India was the centre of knowledge production.

As the Economic Survey 2016-17 points out, lack of health, malnourishment, etc. affects the cognitive ability of children. This will, in turn, have a detrimental effect on their future educational prospects. This leads to a vicious cycle of inter-generational illiteracy, poor health, and ultimately poverty. So education and health are complementary to each other and reforms in one sector should invariably be preceded and followed by reforms in other sectors. Human development as a whole can be considered as a wholesome development and we must appreciate the interlinkages of each section of human capital formation, be it health, education, digital literacy, skills, etc.

Also read: PM-USHA

In the larger domain of human capital , education, and skill development have a big role.

Census 2011 data on literacy gives us a quick perspective on the current status of education. However, education is not just about literacy.

RTE act acts as a cornerstone for Indian education. Nevertheless, it is the various education policies, charted out since Independence, which led to the historical evolution of the education system in India.

The results of these policies can be said to be mixed. There is still a lot of room for improvement.

There are various government initiatives targeting each level of the education system in India. The higher Education System is given a greater focus these days.

The latest update in the education sector is the Kasturirangan report or draft new education policy . It captures the need of the hour for reforming education.

The modern Indian education system is crying for a revamp. The draft New Education Policy (NEP) is the right moment to take stock of its history, achievements, and misgivings to chart out a futuristic education plan for 21st-century India.

Article by  Sethu  Krishnan M, curated by ClearIAS Team

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Reader Interactions

research topics in education in india

November 27, 2019 at 10:33 pm

Wow what the largest matter of education is?. Very nice thank u sir

research topics in education in india

November 28, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Nice article but it is too long we need around 400 words which explains education in india,challenges,way forward only It is very hard to remember and segrate from given imp because all points look like imp please try to make it around 400 words only

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November 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm

@MKM – The aim was to cover almost everything about Education in India as a comprehensive post. The post covers: (a) History of Education in India (b) Current Status of Education in India: Data from Census 2011 (c) RTE Act (d) Various Educational Policies in the past (e) The New National Educational Policy (NEP) (f) The Problems associated with the Education System in India (g) Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP): How to transform Education in India?

Though ClearIAS prefers short and crisp articles, for important areas like Education, we felt a detailed write-up would be useful.

Thank you for your feedback. We will continue to create concise articles as well.

research topics in education in india

November 28, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Good Source thank you Team.

research topics in education in india

November 28, 2019 at 1:56 pm

research topics in education in india

November 28, 2019 at 2:41 pm

November 29, 2019 at 7:45 am

This is a very nice and comprehensive information on education.

research topics in education in india

November 29, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Such a nice article sir thank you..

research topics in education in india

December 16, 2019 at 5:31 pm

research topics in education in india

March 30, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Sir,a small corrrection regarding literacy rate ranking, Kerala (93%)tops its followed by Lakshadweep(92 %), Mizoram (91 %) , Tripura (87.7 %) and Goa (87.4 %) as 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th places repectively according to 2011 census.

research topics in education in india

June 16, 2020 at 12:20 am

Excellent Work

research topics in education in india

August 31, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Thank you vry much team.🤗 You provide excellent data ,analysis,facts,etc…evrything at one doc.

November 16, 2020 at 10:47 pm

Absolutely amazing stuff. Can’t believe.. Thanks from the bottom of my heart ❤️❤️

research topics in education in india

May 27, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Great article about Education ​very informative thanks for sharing

research topics in education in india

May 31, 2021 at 11:55 pm

Well and easy to understand…thank u for the team

research topics in education in india

September 12, 2021 at 10:37 am

Very good and such a broad information thank u 💖.. Lots of love

research topics in education in india

December 16, 2021 at 11:10 am

Need to update with current data eg how much percentage of school/ children get access of online education in pandemic Era COVID challanges others family support etc thank

January 28, 2022 at 10:32 am

Thank you so much for your birthday support

research topics in education in india

February 27, 2022 at 5:33 pm

good information

research topics in education in india

June 10, 2022 at 3:00 pm

Nice article very informative…traditional classroom study should be changed into a smart classroom online

research topics in education in india

July 14, 2022 at 8:55 pm

research topics in education in india

December 18, 2022 at 1:05 am

Absolute coverage article, Kindly keep it up for your determined spectators.

research topics in education in india

May 28, 2023 at 9:10 pm

desserstation on education/slums/miagration par hindi me pdf mil sakta hai

January 23, 2024 at 8:06 pm

The analysis provides a comprehensive overview of India’s education system, highlighting its pyramid structure and alignment with Sustainable Development Goals. Constitutional provisions like Article 21A and the RTE Act aim for universal education. However, the RTE Act faces criticism. To enhance educational outcomes, addressing these concerns and ensuring effective implementation are imperative. Schools in Pataudi Gurgaon focus on quality, inclusivity, and overcoming criticisms can lead Indian education to new heights. Thank You Samriddhi Sharma

February 7, 2024 at 7:44 pm

It’s crucial to delve into the challenges confronting the Indian education sector and understand the constitutional framework and policies guiding it. Exploring these aspects sheds light on the complexities and opportunities within the system. However, it’s equally important to consider how these discussions translate into action at the grassroots level, especially in local communities like Rajajinagar, Bangalore. How are schools in rajajinagar bangaloreaddressing these systemic issues and implementing reforms to ensure quality education for all students? This intersection of policy discourse and on-the-ground realities is where meaningful change happens.

March 8, 2024 at 6:22 am

Is there any data on how many states provide free education to girls till grade X and how many provide it till grade XII?

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Educational research in India: Policy and Practice

  • Published: August 2002
  • Volume 1 , pages 23–33, ( 2002 )

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research topics in education in india

  • M.S. Khaparde 1  

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This paper examines the nature of educational research in India and its implication for policy making and practice. It begins with the description of the system of education in India. The paper further presents a conceptual framework for undertaking policy research in education. The policy research may be related to its formulation and implementation. The research can take the form of theoretical analysis, critique, field survey and studies, and case studies. The results of this research provide feedback to the educational policy. An analysis of an educational research in India indicates that most of the research has primarily been of academic nature and rarely attempts have been made to conduct studies having policy implications. Input for the formulation of educational policy in India has mainly come from the reports of the Commissions and Committees, Five Year Plans, All India Educational Surveys, etc. The paper argues for undertaking researches on socially relevant problems having implication for policy and practice.

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How does the context of research influence the use of educational research in policy-making and practice.

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Research Paper Topics for Students in India

Research Paper Topics for Students in India, Top 50 Research Paper Topic Ideas for 2019, list of research topics, research topics in education

  • You will probably have to write a ton of research papers in college. So, it is important to learn and understand how to refine your search for a topic. However, more often than not, you may find that not all the topics you are interested in are easy to write about. It may also be the case that the topic you pick does not have enough research material on it for you to use. In a way, this could mean that your topic is somewhat untapped, as it were. At the same time, however, it makes your life a little bit harder. So before I begin with giving you a few research topic ideas, let’s look at some overarching tips that could help you during the whole process.

Overarching Guidelines

Think broad then narrow.

The first step is always the hardest. You may either feel overwhelmed or absolutely dejected in terms of options. One thing that helps is to start thinking broadly about what interests you. For example, when I was in my fourth year of college I had to write a thesis. I was interested in irrationality, and I arrived at this broad concept through mere observation of daily life around me. From there, I slowly broke down my topic and found the key issues that needed to be addressed. Not until I had finished my thesis, at the end of the year, did I actually give my project a concrete title.

Begin with what you like thinking about by asking yourself what intrigues you. Of course, write these ideas down. Maybe you’re interested in food and psychology, or business and philosophy, it could literally be anything. Don’t, at first, denounce any thoughts. You’d be surprised at how many interesting research papers result from mere musings.

So, once you’ve gotten a good number of thoughts down on paper, begin to analyze each one. You want to look for a problem, or an inconsistency, within these topics that you would like to talk about. Look to see if your topic is controversial, and if it is, think about what position your paper will take.

Check for Resources

Now that you’ve narrowed it down to maybe one or two topics, and you’ve broken those topics down as well, start reading some literature. Look for what has already been said about what you’re interested in. In other words, do some quick research to see whether your topic has been written about substantially, and not on blogs or websites. You should look for journal articles, books, and other published papers. One of the ways that I found a lot of my sources was through The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. I started with reading the actual webpage to get a general idea of the discussion and then checked where Stanford got its information from. Those are the references I followed up with and ended up using a ton in my thesis.

Please do find reputable sources, preferably primary sources. So, you can start with a basic google search. But once you figure out who in the field is reputable and worth reading, start digging deeper.

You should also make sure to also read some literature on what is said against your tentative position. You need to know what you’re up against, and this will only make your paper stronger. It may also help bring out issues that you might have previously over looked.

Find and Use Library References

Once you have chosen your topic, looked at references from the internet, go digging into your school’s library database. As a student, you should be able to get any book, periodical, paper, article, or journal that you need for your paper. This is also a great time to make use of the people around you. Talk to your professors, ask the librarian for help, bounce ideas off of your friends, and so forth.

Cite as You Go

I think that this step is super important. By the end of the process, you should have a fair amount of sources. Scanning through your paper from start to end, especially if it’s a long one, and attempting to remember what source you used where is just a headache. Needless to say, you will end up wasting more time this way.

The best way to cite a source is to cite it the second you use it. Do it right then, even if it isn’t in the accurate format needed. You can always come back to fix the citation format. But you must at least put in a preliminary citation at the time of use. If you’re using a direct quote, put in the page number immediately.

Just Start Writing

I fail to take my own advice on this quite often. If you’re anything like me, you probably obsess about your first paragraph, thinking that it has to be perfect right away. Or at least close to perfect, well written perhaps. Usually, this ends up in frustration and lost time. Just start writing. Good writing is in editing, no first draft is ever going to be as good as you want it to be. Or at least mine wasn’t.

You should ideally write the final version of your introduction last. Your introduction sets the pace for your whole paper or thesis. There is no way you could possibly know the exact flow your paper will take at the very start. I always write a temporary introduction just to help clear my thoughts and set a tentative outline. More often than not, I go back after I’ve written my conclusion and either tweak or completely change my introduction.

Edit, Edit, Edit…

Leave plenty of time for editing. I’ll say it again, good writing is in editing. I find editing to be the most fun part actually. But it is important that you spend time reviewing your paper, checking for grammatical errors, citations, and of course, the overall flow. Is your argument clear? Are you rambling in some parts? Could you make your conclusion stronger? If so, how? Have you backed up all your claims? Have you made sure to address opposing points of view? How well have you refuted other arguments?

You must edit. For shorter papers, I always left a full day for editing. So I would finish a paper, sleep on it, and edit the next day with a fresh mind. Truly, my papers improved significantly once I started making a habit out of this.

Research Paper Topics

Please bear in mind that I have put this list together from multiple different sources online, and so I have kept them broad. It is only intended to get you thinking. You should still spend time on figuring out what you’re interested in.


E-business/ e-commerce, glass ceiling, online retail, outsourcing, white collar crime, ethics/ morality, doping in sports, drug testing, drunk driving, law and justice, police brutality, prisons and prisoners, roe vs. wade, serial killers, sexual harassment, acquaintance rape, animal rights, assisted suicide, campus violence, civil rights, the drinking age, legal, drug legalization, gun control, hate crimes, insanity defense, more specific:.

Again, I have taken these from a number of different websites . Please do conduct further research. Here is a link to another site that I used.

Digital Marketing Techniques used by Businesses Are Effective Enough to Increase Their Popularity of Smartphone Segment

Abandonment of e-shopping cart in e-commerce, the influence and prospect of online shopping in china, international market entry – case of starbucks, effect of non-financial rewards on employee’s motivation: an empirical study of china mobile communications corporation, social media influences the travelling decision of chinese international students in the uk., how to implement efficiency e-crm., sensory marketing role in consumer buying behaviour., how do brands exploit impulsive buying, the role of information technology in revolutionizing marketer’s approach towards the manipulative advertisement., impact of e-marketing on influencing consumer purchase decision: a case of uk luxury industry., the evolution and implementation of investment banking in emerging markets., how does european financial supervision affect cross-border financial investment, what is the impact of foreign direct investment on emerging economies, assessing the factors that promote foreign direct investment in asian economies – the case of india., the challenges of financial institutions in emerging economies., a study into the impact of multinational trade agreements on the growth of emerging economies: the case of russia., the role of leadership and culture in organisational change., how online digital platforms have helped organizations in recruiting effectively and efficiently., analyzing the factors which directly impact employee’s personal decision to leave employment., investigating the efficacy of performance appraisal from the perception of employees in the uk retail industry., to investigate the role of motivation in hrm – a study highlighting the most important motivation factors for future business leaders., the effect of performance management for large and diversified business organizations., the role of organizational support programs to enhance work outcome and employees’ behaviour., analyzing the impact of enterprise resource planning (erp) in improvising business operations of multinational companies., the impact of latest technological developments on inventory management systems; a case of uk’s manufacturing industry., the role of ict in supply chain management., impact of information technology on supply chain management., promoting creativity in organization: a case study of asian kindergarten, non-experimental research methods in psychology, importance of following ethics in psychological research, substance abuse, evolutionary aspects of mate preferences, advantages of social education in groups, factors that impact animal behaviour/growth, eyewitness testimony & memory: the correlation between them, attention-deficit syndrome: myth to justify persons or reality, is artificial intelligence going to dominate the planet, how do stereotypes appear in society, steps necessary to end cyber crimes, methods criminals target cyber zones, medical services to save babies born before 27 weeks, different types of stem cells and their usage, sleep disorders’ impact on the overall health condition, proof that screening for breast cancer is helpful, a correlation between breastfeeding & improved baby’s health, stem cells to assist in reducing death rates in heart attack cases, several reasons why eating disorders can lead to the patient’s death, compare & contrast the effectiveness of various managerial techniques, elucidate the pros of the small businesses, does franchising make it easier to run a business, what are the impacts of global warming on a specific type of business, pros & cons of outsourcing services, old & rigid corporate traditions that save some popular companies, the effectiveness of online grammar checkers & plagiarism detectors, self-defending networks: their importance, the most useful way to connect to the internet and use your email, exploring how gps system functions, controlling airport security via computer technologies, the primary dangerous computer viruses, the basics of search engine optimization (seo), international criminal law court tools: evaluate their effectiveness, comparative criminal procedure: report & analysis with details, the mission of wipo: world intellectual property organization, the us copyright office: does it really help the local writers to defend their business, what a european patent office does, why is it important to learn gatt documents, women’s authority in different parts of the planet, inter-american human rights library: exciting outtakes & full report, mass communications law, ecolex: a gateway to environmental law, dadt repeal and its significance, the united states border control: the collected insights & analysis, advantages & disadvantages of breastfeeding, child adoption by a gay family, the average wage in the us, why is it immoral for an old lady to date a young boy, no child left behind act: assessment of its effectiveness, does grade inflation take place in the united states, living on campus help to develop independence, reading & literacy in the early days, curriculum, teaching, and assessment nowadays, history of schooling statement, should the federal government be allowed to regulate information on the internet.

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  • Premium Statistic Size of the higher education market in India 2022-2028
  • Premium Statistic Indian EdTech market size 2020-2025

Market size of education industry across India in financial year 2020, with an estimate for 2025 (in billion U.S. dollars)

School market size in India 2022-2028

Size of the school market in India from 2022, with forecasts until 2028 (in billion U.S. dollars)

School market distribution in India 2023, by education level

Distribution of school market in India in 2023, by education level

Preschool and childcare market size India 2022-2028

Market size of preschool and childcare in India from 2022, with forecasts until 2028 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Size of the higher education market in India 2022-2028

Size of higher education market in India in 2022, with forecasts until 2028 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Indian EdTech market size 2020-2025

Value of EdTech market across India in 2020, with an estimate for 2025 (in billion U.S. dollars)

Key Indicators

  • Premium Statistic India's performance in quality education SDG 2023, by indicator
  • Premium Statistic Rate of literate population in India 2022 by gender
  • Premium Statistic Ratio of pupil to teacher in India 2022, by education level
  • Premium Statistic Multidimensionally poor and deprived population in education in India 2006-2021
  • Premium Statistic CPI of education India 2022-2023

India's performance in quality education SDG 2023, by indicator

India's performance in quality education as per sustainable development goals (SDG) as of 2023, by indicator

Literacy rate among population over 15 years of age in India in 2022, by gender

Ratio of pupil to teacher in India 2022, by education level

Pupil to teacher ratio across India in FY 2022, by education level

Multidimensionally poor and deprived population in education in India 2006-2021

Share of multidimensionally poor and deprived population in the years of schooling indicator in India between 2006 and 2021

CPI of education India 2022-2023

Consumer Price Index (CPI) of education across urban and rural India from March 2022 to March 2023

Expenditure on education

  • Premium Statistic Education consumer spending per capita worldwide 2020, by country
  • Premium Statistic Budget allocation for education sector in India FY 2018-2023
  • Premium Statistic Budget expenditure on teachers training and adult education in India FY 2022-2023
  • Premium Statistic Total budget expenditure on STARS project in India FY 2022-2023
  • Premium Statistic Budget allocation towards Samagra Shiksha Scheme in India FY 2022-2023

Education consumer spending per capita worldwide 2020, by country

Ranking of the per capita consumer spending on education by country 2020 (in U.S. dollars)

Budget allocation for education sector in India FY 2018-2023

Total budget allocation for the education sector in India from financial year 2018 to 2023 (in billion Indian rupees)

Budget expenditure on teachers training and adult education in India FY 2022-2023

Total budget expenditure on teachers training and adult education in India for financial year 2022 and 2023 (in billion Indian rupees)

Total budget expenditure on STARS project in India FY 2022-2023

Budget expenditure on Strengthening Teachers-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in India for financial year 2022 and 2023 (in billion Indian rupees)

Budget allocation towards Samagra Shiksha Scheme in India FY 2022-2023

Total budget allocation towards Samagra Shiksha Scheme in India in financial year 2022 and 2023 (in billion Indian rupees)

School education

  • Premium Statistic Number of schools India 2022, by type
  • Premium Statistic Number of school students in India FY 2022, by education level
  • Premium Statistic Distribution of K-12 schools in India 2023, by funding institution
  • Premium Statistic Market share of pre-primary education India 2023, by players
  • Premium Statistic Gender parity index at primary school level India FY 2016-2022
  • Premium Statistic Net enrollment ratio for primary and upper primary education India FY 2016-2022
  • Premium Statistic Gender parity index at higher secondary school level India FY 2016-2022
  • Premium Statistic Gross enrollment ratio for higher secondary education India FY 2016-2022

Number of schools India 2022, by type

Number of schools in India in 2022, by type (in 1,000s)

Number of school students in India in financial year 2022, by education level (in millions)

Distribution of K-12 schools in India 2023, by funding institution

Distribution of K-12 school segment in India in 2023, by funding institution

Market share of pre-primary education India 2023, by players

Share of market of pre-primary education in India in 2023, by players

Gender parity index at primary school level India FY 2016-2022

Gender parity index at primary school level in India from financial year 2016 to 2022

Net enrollment ratio for primary and upper primary education India FY 2016-2022

Net enrollment ratio for primary and upper primary education in India from financial year 2016 to 2022

Gender parity index at higher secondary school level India FY 2016-2022

Gender parity index at higher secondary school level in India from financial year 2016 to 2022

Gross enrollment ratio for higher secondary education India FY 2016-2022

Gross enrollment ratio for higher secondary education in India from financial year 2016 to 2022

Higher education

  • Premium Statistic Distribution of the higher education market India 2023, by segment
  • Premium Statistic Estimated number of student enrolments in higher education in India FY 2020-2035
  • Premium Statistic Number of student enrolments in higher education in India FY 2016-2022, by gender
  • Premium Statistic Number of universities in India FY 2015-2022
  • Premium Statistic Share of universities in India FY 2012-2020, by type
  • Premium Statistic Number of colleges in India FY 2016-2021
  • Premium Statistic Number of Indian students studying abroad 2017-2022

Distribution of the higher education market India 2023, by segment

Distribution of the higher education market in India in 2023, by segment

Estimated number of student enrolments in higher education in India FY 2020-2035

Estimated number of students enrolled in higher education across India from financial year 2020 to 2035 (in millions)

Number of student enrolments in higher education in India FY 2016-2022, by gender

Number of students enrolled in higher education across India from financial year 2016 to 2022, by gender (in millions)

Number of universities in India FY 2015-2022

Number of universities across India from financial year 2015 to 2022

Share of universities in India FY 2012-2020, by type

Share of universities across India in financial year 2012 and 2020, by type

Number of colleges in India FY 2016-2021

Number of colleges across India from financial year 2016 to 2021 (in 1,000s)

Number of Indian students studying abroad 2017-2022

Number of Indian students studying abroad from 2017 to 2022 (in 1,000s)

Edtech and private coaching

  • Premium Statistic Share of students who attend tuition classes in rural India 2018-2022
  • Premium Statistic Share of students who attend tuition classes in rural India 2018-2022, by state
  • Premium Statistic Leading K12 and test preparation platforms in India 2022, by website traffic
  • Premium Statistic Edtech platform users in India 2023, by platform
  • Premium Statistic Share of Ed Tech consumers in India 2023, by type
  • Premium Statistic Time spent on education apps India 2022, by subgenre
  • Premium Statistic Funding raised by Byju's from 2013 to 2023
  • Premium Statistic Profit of AESL FY 2014-2020

Share of students who attend tuition classes in rural India 2018-2022

Change rate of students (grade I-VIII) who attend paid tuition classes in rural India between 2018 and 2022

Share of students who attend tuition classes in rural India 2018-2022, by state

Share of students (grade I-VIII) who attend paid tuition classes in rural India between 2018 and 2022, by state

Leading K12 and test preparation platforms in India 2022, by website traffic

Leading K12 and test preparation platforms in India in 2022, by website traffic (in million)

Edtech platform users in India 2023, by platform

Edtech platform users in India in 2023, by platform (in millions)

Share of Ed Tech consumers in India 2023, by type

Share of Ed Tech consumers in India as of January 2023, by type

Time spent on education apps India 2022, by subgenre

Time spent on educational apps in India in 2022, by subgenre (in million hours)

Funding raised by Byju's from 2013 to 2023

Funding raised by Indian Ed-Tech Byju's from 2013 to 2023 (in million U.S. dollars)

Profit of AESL FY 2014-2020

Profit of Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) from financial year 2014 to 2020 (in million Indian rupees)

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  • Open access
  • Published: 10 May 2024

Non-communicable diseases, digital education and considerations for the Indian context – a scoping review

  • Anup Karan 1 ,
  • Suhaib Hussain 1 ,
  • Lasse X Jensen 2 ,
  • Alexandra Buhl 2 ,
  • Margaret Bearman 3 &
  • Sanjay Zodpey 1  

BMC Public Health volume  24 , Article number:  1280 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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The increasing ageing of the population with growth in NCD burden in India has put unprecedented pressure on India’s health care systems. Shortage of skilled human resources in health, particularly of specialists equipped to treat NCDs, is one of the major challenges faced in India. Keeping in view the shortage of healthcare professionals and the guidelines in NEP 2020, there is an urgent need for more health professionals who have received training in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of NCDs. This paper conducts a scoping review and aims to collate the existing evidence on the use of digital education of health professionals within NCD topics.

We searched four databases (Web of Science, PubMed, EBSCO Education Research Complete, and PsycINFO) using a three-element search string with terms related to digital education, health professions, and terms related to NCD. The inclusion criteria covered the studies to be empirical and NCD-related with the target population as health professionals rather than patients. Data was extracted from 28 included studies that reported on empirical research into digital education related to non-communicable diseases in health professionals in India. Data were analysed thematically.

The target groups were mostly in-service health professionals, but a considerable number of studies also included pre-service students of medicine ( n  = 6) and nursing ( n  = 6). The majority of the studies included imparted online learning as self-study, while some imparted blended learning and online learning with the instructor. While a majority of the studies included were experimental or observational, randomized control trials and evaluations were also part of our study.

Digital HPE related to NCDs has proven to be beneficial for learners, and simultaneously, offers an effective way to bypass geographical barriers. Despite these positive attributes, digital HPE faces many challenges for its successful implementation in the Indian context. Owing to the multi-lingual and diverse health professional ecosystem in India, there is a need for strong evidence and guidelines based on prior research in the Indian context.

Peer Review reports

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year. Of these deaths, more than 15 million happen to people between the ages of 30 and 69 years, and the vast majority of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) [ 1 ]. It is estimated that by 2030 the share of NCDs in global total mortality will be 69% – a dramatic rise from 59% in 2002 [ 2 ]. Although the burden of NCDs continues to increase across all regions of the world, it disproportionately affects poorer regions [ 3 ], with almost 80% of NCD-related deaths occurring in LMICs [ 4 ].

This shift is largely driven by demographical and epidemiological transitions, coupled with rapid urbanization and nutritional transitions in LMICs [ 5 ].

With approximately six million annual deaths from NCDs, India presents an important case study with respect to these challenges [ 6 ]. Similar to many other LMICs, India is experiencing a rapid health transition with a rising burden of NCDs now surpassing the burden of communicable diseases [ 7 ]. In India, NCDs such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes are estimated to account for around 63% of all deaths, thus making them the leading causes of death [ 6 ]. This NCD burden has severe implications for the healthcare system. In particular, the shortage of skilled health professionals, i.e. medical specialists, nurses, and other professionals equipped to treat NCDs, presents a serious challenge [ 8 ]. The inadequacy of educational institutions to impart quality medical and nursing education has been one of the main reasons for the health workforce shortage [ 8 ]. In a recent study, the number of Indian doctors and nurses/midwives was estimated at 0.80 million and 1.40 million, with a density of 6.1 and 10.6, respectively, per 10,000 population. The numbers further drop to 5.0 and 6.0 per 10,000 population, respectively, after accounting for the adequate qualifications [ 9 , 10 ]. All these estimates are well below the WHO threshold of 44.5 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 population [ 11 ]. The study also highlights the highly skewed distribution of the health workforce across states, rural–urban and public–private sectors. The skewed distribution of the health workforce across India means that this shortage is even more grave in rural and remote areas [ 9 , 10 ]. The revised guidelines of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NP-NCD), are a welcome strategy in the prevention and control of NCDs [ 12 ]. The focus of the guidelines on health promotion, early diagnosis and screening, and capacity building of healthcare professionals will definitely push for increased attention to the management of NCDs and how this relates to the pre- and in-service training needs of health professionals. In addition, the recent establishment of Health and Wellness Centres (HWC) in managing NCDs and achieving UHC is an excellent response to the changing demographic and epidemiological profile in India. However, this initiative is not without challenges, with a major challenge being the need to build human resource capacity with a continued need for training [ 13 , 14 ]. Although some states have conducted specific training programs to improve the capacity and address the issue, the lack of training modules for NCD management remains an important challenge to be addressed [ 14 ]. The need to strengthen the HWCs through adequate financing, human resources, and logistics for medicines and technology, especially in hard geographical areas, is an area to be focussed upon [ 13 ].

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 by the government of India has highlighted the role of digital education in training and continuing education [ 15 ]. Digital education is defined as an act of teaching and learning by means of digital technologies involving a multitude of educational approaches, concepts, methods, and technologies [ 16 ]. The NEP 2020 focuses attention on implementing and strengthening multidisciplinary, inclusive and technology-based learning that is accessible to all. With a large geographical and cultural diversity in India, meeting this need has proven to be a challenge to India’s existing systems of health professions education (HPE). Hence, the use of technology in education is proposed as a way to access remote areas and bypass geographical barriers [ 15 ].

Although the NEP 2020 has some aspirational objectives, there is a lack of specific knowledge regarding the digital education of health professionals in India. A recent review of Indian research in digital health professions education found that the body of literature is very limited and that the studies that do exist tend to take the form of evaluations of local educational interventions rather than more systematic contributions to research-based knowledge [ 17 ].

Considering the scarcity of empirical evidence related to digital education and training of health professionals regarding NCDs, it is relevant to look outside of India and explore what research may have been done in other contexts.

Digitalization of education may help us address the urgent need for more health professionals who have received training in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of NCDs. However, it is still unclear what constitutes best practice in NCD-related digital education, and how experiences from across the world are relevant to the Indian context.

The objective of the present paper is to conduct a scoping review of the published research examining the digital education of health professionals within NCD topics. More specifically the paper aims to: (i) assess the strengths and weaknesses of the digital teaching-learning practices described in the literature; and (ii) discuss the findings in relation to the Indian context.

The scoping review methodology is appropriate for exploring the extent of research activity within a topic where the literature is limited and disorganized. With a more flexible approach than what is known from systematic reviews, the scoping methodology can provide an overview of what kinds of evidence exist and help inform future research [ 18 ].

To identify relevant publications, we searched four research databases (Web of Science, PubMed, EBSCO Education Research Complete, and PsycInfo). This was done with a search string consisting of three elements, namely terms related to digital education ( n  = 174), terms related to health professions ( n  = 30), and terms related to NCD ( n  = 36). The search string with all terms is included in the online supplementary material .

The search produced 1032 hits combined from all the databases (Web of Science: 443; PubMed: 259; EBSCO Education Research Complete: 118; PsycInfo: 212). When searching, we did not limit the search to any specific time frame, but subsequently, we opted to exclude papers published before 2017. This was decided to ensure that the included papers reported on interventions that represent current digital technologies. After removing duplicates and papers published before 2017, we had 463 documents. These documents were imported into the online review tool Covidence, which was used to manage the screening and data extraction processes.

Figure  1 . PRISMA flow chart showing the screening process.

figure 1

PRISMA flow chart showing the screening process

In Covidence, the first step was to screen the title and abstract of these 463 documents to determine whether they were suitable for inclusion in the review. This screening process excluded studies that were.

Not empirical (e.g., reviews and commentaries).

About training patients to manage their own chronic disease.

About digital health solutions (e-health, m-health, apps, etc.)

Not related to NCD prevention, treatment, or care.

This process led to the exclusion of 385 documents, leaving a pool of 78 for full-text screening. The full-text screening followed the same exclusion criteria. This led to the exclusion of a further 50 documents, leaving a pool of 28 documents for inclusion in the review. The PRISMA flow chart in Fig.  1 illustrates this process, and Table  1 presents an overview of the 28 included studies. We note quality assessments are not typically recommended or conducted with scoping reviews [ 19 ] Moreover, as we were primarily focused on understanding what kinds of evidence exist, we did not undertake a quality assessment of the included documents.

From each of these 28 papers, we extracted data about the study’s objectives, location, target population, research design and methodology, findings, health focus, and modality of the digital educational intervention. This extraction process was undertaken by one author (SH). A few unclear cases were discussed with a further two authors (AB, LXJ). In the results section below, we present a synthesis of the extracted data, with an emphasis on the benefits and challenges identified in the various digital educational interventions.

Description of studies

The final list of the 28 studies included in our review consisted of 22 studies from high-income countries with the majority of them from United States of America (USA). Only six studies were from LMICs, more specifically from Brazil, Pakistan, Türkiye, and Uganda, as well as two studies that spanned several LMICs.

The target groups were mostly in-service health professionals but a considerable number of studies also included pre-service students of medicine ( n  = 6) and nursing ( n  = 6). Among the targeted in-service health professionals, most were nurses ( n  = 12), followed by doctors ( n  = 8) and other health professionals ( n  = 8) including emergency technicians, primary care providers, medical assistants, etc.

The majority of the studies in the overall pool used either experimental or observational study designs and gathered data using online questionnaires, interviews, and/or analysis of individual or online interactions between learners. The details about target groups and study designs are shown in Table  2 . We use the term experimental for studies that have no specific information on the randomization of the participants or where randomization has not been done. These studies typically included two groups of the study population, where one group served as an experimental one provided with the intervention and the other with no or some traditional type of intervention. Other than the observational and experimental studies, randomized control trials (RCTs) and evaluation studies were part of our review.

The studies in our review comprised mainly of educational interventions related to diabetes, stroke, hypertension and cardiac disorders.

Assessment of digital educational intervention

Based on the digital education modality that was described, we grouped the studies into three categories: blended learning, online learning with instructor, and online learning as self-study. In the sub-sections below we present the interventions, study findings, effectiveness and identified challenges of each modality.

Blended learning

Our review includes seven studies providing blended learning to health professionals and students. For this purpose, we identify blended learning as any intervention that combines online learning with some form of onsite training or teaching. All the studies report the advantages of blended learning over traditional learning and the increase in overall knowledge.

Blended learning was incorporated in various formats in the studies. Some of the studies include the online learning proponent prior to the onsite training [ 33 , 40 ]. In these, the online learning was provided in modules that could be taken at the participants’ own pace before the onsite programme which was characterised by hands-on workshops and lectures. Other studies began with on-site training followed by an online learning proponent [ 23 , 36 , 39 ]. In these studies, the online proponent consisted of further self-study of the content learned in the prior onsite training. The remaining two studies did not have a set order but rather had the online proponent as a learning resource that the participants could draw upon among other resources such as tele-education sessions, a local support coach [ 46 ] or interactive classroom lectures with group discussions and role play [ 43 ].

The studies consisted of both RCTs and observations. The RCT studies mostly highlighted the strengthening capacity of nursing professionals. For instance, in one RCT study in Thailand, the findings showed the effectiveness of blended learning in strengthening competency in diabetes care among nurses, wherein the levels of perceived self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, knowledge and skills in diabetes management care were statistically and significantly higher at Weeks 4 and 8 compared to the control group [ 39 ]. In another RCT conducted in Australia, the addition of access to online learning, as well as face-to-face education, significantly increased the uptake of diabetes education among hospital non-specialist nursing staff [ 40 ]. A study based in Pakistan gathered information about perceptions about social media as a tool for online training and reported that Facebook, with tutor support, enabled participants to study the material when their schedule permitted. The online teaching component and facilitation were ideal for their full-time working nurses, as reflected by their improved post-course test results [ 43 ]. The detailed findings for studies examining blended learning are provided in Table  3 .

Generally, among health professionals, the perception of blended learning was positive. Blended learning was perceived to be beneficial and impactful in increasing knowledge. This type of learning makes the learning interactive. However, certain challenges were identified that hampered online learning, e.g., limited internet connection and computer skills for the participants enrolled in the learning [ 43 ]. As many of the participants are health professionals active in the workforce, the long duration of the working hours makes it difficult to spare time for online learning [ 36 , 40 ].

Online learning with instructor

There were six studies in our review, wherein online learning with instructors was explored. Such online learning includes following a simultaneous schedule allowing for contact between learners and teachers/trainers during the course. Two of the six studies had no control group. All the studies assessed the effects of their online teaching through survey-based questionnaires. A majority of the studies reported that these types of courses are cost-effective and can help bypass the geographical barrier. The findings of these studies are given in Table  4 .

Regarding instructor involvement, five of the studies used learning platforms such as Moodle or Zuvia for the instructor to organise courses, materials and activities [ 22 , 27 , 38 , 42 , 45 ]. Four of these also had an online forum or messaging app for peer discussions about the content, two of these also included interactions with faculty and tutor support [ 27 , 38 , 42 , 45 ]. For instance, a study by Paul et al. [ 38 ] had an online request form for specialist advice regarding diabetes. The last study by Hicks and Murano [ 30 ] had an instructor-led webinar followed by self-study.

The studies showed a positive effect on practice. A Spanish study on cerebrovascular medical emergency management from reported that interprofessional online stroke training in the Catalonian Emergency Medical Service (EMS) was effective in increasing the study participants’ knowledge of cerebrovascular medical emergencies. The results encouraged the Catalonian EMS to maintain this training intervention in their continuous education program [ 27 ].

Online learning as self-study

Of the included papers, 15 were about online learning as self-study. In such an intervention, the learner undertakes an online course/training as flexible self-study. This means the course can be done at any time and does not require any set schedule or contact with teaching staff. Table  5 presents an overview of the study findings.

Largely the studies using online learning as self-study reported improvements in learning following the training. For instance, A study across Latin American countries studied the effects of online training on medical knowledge regarding acute kidney injury (AKI) on nephrologists and primary care physicians. The study reported gains in knowledge equivalent to 36%. It is important to note that the study concluded that the interactive, asynchronous, online courses were valuable and successful tools for continuing medical education in Latin America, reducing heterogeneity in access to training across countries. The application of distance education techniques has proved to be effective, not only in terms of primary learning objectives but also as a potential tool for the development of a sustainable structure for communication, exchange, and integration of physicians and allied professionals involved in the care of patients with AKI [ 34 ]. However, one study explored the use of online simulations [ 25 ]. This randomized control trial reported no significant change in the experimental group following an online educational course regarding oral anticoagulants in case of atrial fibrillation. Also, the reading material in certain modules being too dense and lengthy poses a challenge for the participants in one study to complete the learning [ 45 ]. Another study by Lombardi et al. [ 34 ]., also questioned whether the knowledge effect is retained on a long-term basis.

Some of the studies emphasise the possibilities that online learning provides. One study indicated that a 6-week internet-based course in diabetes and obesity treatment may serve as an important resource in postgraduate education for medical doctors as well as other health professionals. From a wider perspective, education based on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) may assist the professional community by providing the latest evidence-based guidelines in an easily accessible and globally available way [ 47 ]. An evaluation study in the United States reported that online learning modules can be developed and maintained with minimal costs and basic technological requirements and present a unique opportunity to provide essential information in a short timeframe. In addition, these modules can be specifically tailored to address identified knowledge gaps among various groups and can be easily disseminated and can be an effective method for educating nurses in a time- and cost-sensitive manner [ 41 ].

The major challenges faced by health professionals or students when participating in online learning by self-study include time constraints and out-of-date or inappropriate hardware and software [ 20 , 34 ]. Some barriers that online learning can help organisations overcome include logistical difficulties and expenses associated with maintaining an adequate pool of educators, coordinating training sessions, and standardizing training across sites [ 21 ].

This section discusses the strengths, weaknesses, and advantages of digital education related to NCDs in the reviewed literature in the context of India.

Value of online and blended NCD education

The limited literature available on the topic paints a positive picture regarding the increase in learning/knowledge of health professionals on NCDs due to online learning. A majority of the studies reported an increase in knowledge after the interventions. A study from Latin America provides an example of how online courses can be a valuable and successful tool for continuing medical education and reducing heterogeneity in access to training across countries. The diverse findings suggest that modality alone is not the sole issue; for example, a recent study comparing traditional vs. online learning [ 44 ] suggests interactivity may matter.

The studies reported a number of challenges related to the online format in general. One highlighted that training of healthcare providers can be more difficult in time constrained and low-resource settings due to limited accessible equipment, inadequate environment and competing interests [ 28 ]. Another found that augmented reality smartphone apps may not provide the extensive information needed for complex content [ 29 ]. The senior doctors were not as pleased as their less-experienced colleagues with the web-based format of the learning [ 35 ]. Online training options, while notionally attractive and accessible, are not likely to have high levels of uptake as they require more commitment, activity, and dedication [ 38 ]. Although there are challenges with online learning, the included studies also emphasized the opportunities it provides, e.g. making knowledge more accessible to a wider population and making it more flexible for health professionals with heavy workloads to learn at their own pace [ 36 , 39 , 47 ].

Although we categorize and present the interventions in the three modalities, it is important to note that many of the challenges and opportunities we found are shared by all modalities. Because of this, it is not possible to highlight a single modality that is best in all situations – rather, they each have different affordances in relation to important considerations such as learner flexibility or programme scalability. Online learning as self-study offers almost complete learner flexibility and programme scalability – but it lacks important elements of individualized feedback, collaborative learning, and the motivation that learners and teachers can experience when they are together in the same room at the same time. Blended learning tries to balance the advantages of being together with the flexibility of learning online. This blend can take many forms, and rather than a single pedagogical approach, it should probably be considered a spectrum of approaches inhabiting the space between campus learning and online self-study.

Relevance to Indian context

The review showed that most of the literature is from high-income countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Spain. Only very few studies describe educational interventions set in LMICs, and none of them were from India. It is, however, important to point out that the category LMIC is very broad, including both countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as countries like Türkiye and Thailand. This entire spectrum is also present within India. Despite the great diversity within India, the high-income setting of most of the described interventions limits their direct applicability in many of the most underserved Indian contexts, where the health professions, education systems, and health care systems in general already have significantly fewer resources. We hope, however, that the experiences from other countries can serve as inspiration for educational interventions and research which is tailored to the needs, challenges, and opportunities that are relevant to India.

In an Indian context, the main advantage of online learning is the flexibility to reach people in rural areas, especially for in-service training of health professionals who are no longer residing close to a medical or nursing college. This flexibility is even more pronounced with online self-study training. The advantages of online learning are beginning to be recognised in India. During the last decade, the digital education platform has seen a perceptible growth in India. Several public and private organizations and entities have started providing digital training for capacity building of healthcare professionals especially in terms of NCDs. Different types of courses are offered in the form of online or blended learning. However, it is important to note, that the use of digital education and training in rural areas comes with its own set of challenges in relation to lacking connectivity and insufficient technical infrastructure. Furthermore, the significant linguistic and cultural diversity of India, also influences how well digital education interventions can scale. Nonetheless, with the NEP 2020 focusing on digital and equitable education among health care professionals and the post-pandemic time period, the courses offered digitally have increased severalfold. Introducing such courses in The National Programme for Prevention & Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NP-NCD) could help India address shortages and skewed distributions of its health workforce. Also, with the introduction of MOOCs and EdTech investments in the last decade, many leading universities and schools of public health are hosting NCD courses, which are available for learners in the Indian subcontinent and worldwide. These are primarily aimed at medical doctors, with just very few targeting nurses. Many of the courses that are open to nursing are open to almost all sections of health care workers.

Examples of digital training in India mainly focus on diabetes education and are provided by the government through public institutions as well as private organizations. Some examples of online training on diabetes through government institutions include through National Institute of Public Health Training and Research (NIPHTR) and Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore [ 48 , 49 ]. In addition to these, various organizations have partnered to provide quality training courses on diabetes. One such example is an online certification course in diabetes by British Medical Journal & Fortis C-DOC, endorsed by The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), London [ 50 ]. Another example is an online training on diabetes targeted at primary care physicians offered by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). PHFI has developed the capacity of more than 15,000 primary care physicians with its various diabetes-related capacity-building programs since 2010 in collaboration with academic partners like Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Education Academy (DMDEA) [ 51 ]. There are numerous examples of online courses on diabetes education that have been started in recent times [ 52 , 53 ]. However, these trainings through online learning have rarely been evaluated and there is a lack of literature examining the effectiveness of such programs.

However, India faces some challenges to online learning as well. The adherence to course curriculum and retention rates will vary according to different health professionals of different geographical regions. Technological issues like internet connectivity, limited computer skills, and out-of-date software or hardware can have direct effects on the participation of health professionals. Also, there might be reluctance in the case of senior professionals to learn from their junior colleagues in instructor-based online learning [ 35 ].

Strengths and limitations

This review is a diverse contribution from a team of Indian and non-Indian authors.

Our review includes a wide range of study designs and methodologies.

The review synthesizes evidence on an emerging topic in Lower Income Countries and provides evidence for further research.

We did not systematically employ dual independent screening and data extraction.

We did not conduct a formal assessment of the quality of the included literature. However, this is typical of scoping reviews [ 19 ], and also, the value of the insights we gained from the included studies was not necessarily bound to the quality of their findings.

To focus on current forms of digital teaching and learning we chose to limit our search to research published since 2017. Including older publications, or those in the grey literature, may have yielded further evidence that could have had relevance to our objectives.

Digital education related to NCDs has proven to be beneficial for both in- and pre-service health professionals. Digital education may also offer an effective way to bypass geographical barriers that can be utilized for capacity building of the existing health workforce especially in relation to NCDs. Despite these positive attributes, and an increased openness to learning and collaborating online, digital education faces many challenges for its successful implementation in the Indian context. Owing to the multi-lingual and diverse health professional ecosystem in India, there is a need for strong evidence and guidelines based on prior research in the Indian context. Rigorous research in the form of evaluation, quasi-experimental studies or RCTs needs to be done in order to address the challenges and uncover potentials for online learning in India.


Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].

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This work was supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF22SH0078207).

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