Indian Education



Figure 1.--Indian education is strongly influenced by the British, including school uniforms. This style of girls' uniform is dectinctive to India and widely worn.

India operates the second largest education system in the world after China. The country has a population of more than 1 billion people, and its universities turn out 260,000 graduates a year. Where are corporations are setting up their new manufacturing and electronics industry. We do not yet have detailed information on Indian schools. As best we can determine. the vast majority of schools in India, both public and private alike, do have a mandatory school uniform policy in grades 1-12. English uniforms have had an influence, but India has developed many uniqely national styles. English styles are particularly prominant at private schools. Uniforms are very bssic at many public schools. I am not sure how strictly uniforms are enforced in rural schools, but school uniforms appear to be strictly enforced in urban schools. We would be interested in any information that Indian readers could provide us.

Indian Education

India has a population of more than 1 billion people, and its universities turn out 260,000 graduates a year. Many of these graduates are children educated at private schools. There are corporations are setting up their new manufacturing and electronics industry to take advantage of well-trained Indian technicians and workers. Many companies located in Ameruca and Europe are taking advantage of this talent pool exporting jobs to India. We do not yet have detailed information on Indian schools. Available information, however, suggests that India may have the most inadequate school system of any important country. A HBC reader writes in 2005, "India spends just 1.9% of its gross domestic product on elementary education, about two-thirds of what it needs to educate all its children. One result is that over 40 percent of the population is illiterate. On average, Indians spend just over two years in school–compared with the average of five years in China and more than nine in South Korea." Despite recent economic progress, India does not appear to be closing the education gap.

Chronology

We have very little chronological information about Indian education at this time. We have no information on education in ancient India. There were many different civilizations in India over time. The Mogols came the close to unifying India, but never quite comopleted the conquest of the south. As far as we know, all of tghese very different cultures followed the stanndard approach in most pre-modern civilizations of just offering formal education to a narrow elite. Perhaps our Indian readers will know more. Except for the elite, education in the Mogul Empire was offered by local mosques and mot the state. During the British Raj, modern schools were founded, but again these were schools for the elites and not for the common people. There were schools for British subjects in India as well as for Indians. Many if not all of the early schools had miklitary-style uniforms. They were opened to train th Indians the British needed to afminister the Raj. They are important, however, because they trained the Indians who pursued the independence movement and governed independentb India. Also they laid the foundation for India's public school system. As far as we know, the public school system was founded by the new Indian Government after independence

Levels

Indian schools are organized along the same primary/secondary basis that is common around the world. We assume the school structure is strongly influenced by the British colonial experience. We do not yet have details on the age of school attendance and the compulsory education laws.

Activities

We have rather limited information on Indian school activities at this time, but readers in India have provided some informatin. We note children involved in a range of school activities. We see students coming and going to school. We see children in their classrooms. Here there is quite a range of classrooms, including some still very basic classrooms in rural schools. Childen take field trips to local sites like temples and parks. And their are school sports as well as well as singing and dancing.

Regions

India is a very large, diverse country. We are not sure how centralized the education system is, but there are probably substantial regional differences in the schools. The regions affect income levels, rethnicity, climaste, language, religion, and other factors. Many different languages are spoken in India. All of these affect education. The two official languages ae Hindi and English. We are not sure to what extent the many local lasnguages are used in the schools.

School Attendance

School attendace is a major problem in developing countries. Even if schools are free, many fanilies do not have the money needed for school supplies and books. And poor families often need the children to work to help support the family or for girls to stay at home to help care for the younger children. Before independence, the education of girls was very limited. India has made substantial progress since independence in expanding school attendance for both boys and girls. Many children, hwever, still do not attend school--especially girls. Indian Government data indicates that at the turn of the 21st century that about 80 percent of boys and 73 percent of girls attend primary school. A little nore than half of these children go on to secondary school. Studies have found that school attendance is positively related to school accessibility and parental education. Two factors are particularly important in limiting school attendance, poverty and household size. These factos explain in part why rural education continues to be a major problem.

Uniforms

As best we can determine. the vast majority of schools in India, both public and private alike, do have a mandatory school uniform policy in grades 1-12. I am not sure how strictly uniforms are enforced in rural schools, but school uniforms appear to be strictly enforced in urban schools. We would be interested in any information that Indian readers could provide us. The uniform for boys is usually a buttoned-shirt with short sleeves, a pair of plain-colored short pants, socks (often knee socks) and dark lace-up dress shoes. The uniform for girls is normally a "salwaar kameez" very popular throughout India, which is a combination of a knee-length tunic w/ short or long sleeves, baggy pants,and dark lace-up shoes. OR a combination of buttoned-shirts + knee-length skirts, socks, and dark lace up dress shoes. The uniform for sport activities is mainly : a T-shirt, short sport pants and white canvas and rubber tennis shoes.

Hair Styles

Schools appear to have strict rules concerning hair styles. Boys in all grades are normally required to have standard, plain short cuts,nothing else allowed. Girls in all grades are normally not allowed to have fringe cuts (bangs). Hair must be off the face, no hair colors/dyes. The girls with shorter hair usually must have it combed neat. The girls with longer hair must have it either made into a braid down the back or even more often braided in two pigtails on each side of head, and then looped. Note that many schools require the all schoolgirls to wear ribbons in their braids. Color of ribbons is the same for all girls within the school and varies from school to school (from white to black, red, green,etc).

Tilaka

Children both boys and girls can wear a bindi or tilaka/tilak to school. It is an Hindu mark of devotion. Some Hundus wear tilaka on a daily basis. Others only wear them for special religious occasions, depending on different customs. Tilaka means red, but they are not all red. It can be drawn with clay, ashes (vihuti), or sandalwood. It is usually done on the center of the forehead (Ajna chakra), but can be worn on other parts of the body. There are many different designs for tilaka. The most common is a red dot, but there are many others. The variations indicate the particular god that is being honored. There are non-religious usages as well. Women may wear a tilaka as a beauty mark by women of all faiths in India with no religious conotations.

Religion

India is a highly religious country where religion plays an important role in the lives of many people. Two of the world's great religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) originated in India as well as several other smaller religions. India also has the largest Muslim community in the world. While there was a horrifying explosion of religious hatred at the independence of the country (1948-49) and there have been scattered terrorist attacks, the various religious communities have for the most part managed to live in exceptionl harmony. The country's Muslim minority has for the most part found the country's democratic institutions offered adequate protections. It is unclear how rising Islamic fundamentalism and resort to violence will affect India. I am not sure about the country's laws concerning religion and education. The country has a Hindu majority, but the state schools are secular. We do note meitations in schools. I'm not sure how common this was. I'm not sure about Indian laws concerning schools operated by religious groups.

Individual Schools

We have very little information on individual Indian schools. We are collecting information to better understand schoolwear and educational trends. We have collected information on a few schools at this time. A reader has sent us an image from an unidentified primary school. Our reader tells us that it is a typical primary school from western India. India also has a range of different private schools. A well-known private school is La Martiniere . We incourage readers to send us information about their school so we can expand our coverage.








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  • Apertures Press New Zealand e-Books: Appertures Press has published three different EBooks about New Zealnd schools.
  • British Preparatory Schools: A photographic book depicting life at British preparatory schools during the 1980s. Most of the schools are English or Scottish, but schools in Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ulster are also included. The pictures show the uniforms worn at many different schools.
  • British Prep School eBooks: Apperture Press has published six eBooks about different vaspects of British public schools. Volume I is a general assessnent. The other volumes deal with more specific aspects of the schools ahd school life.