The Vedic Tradition
The Vedas were the main repository of knowledge and were passed on from generation to generation by the oral tradition, the teaching mainly taking place in the gurukul system (students in residence with the teacher). In later times the scriptures and other texts including poetry were recorded on palm leaves specially treated for preservation and written with a sharp writing instrument. The gurukul system was the main stay of education and was mainly availed by the higher castes – Brahmins and the royalty. During the Buddhist period the first “universities” appeared at Taxila (now in Pakistan) and Nalanda where a multitude of disciplines were taught: philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, grammar, logic, arts and crafts. Besides India, students traveled from Tibet, China, Greece and Persia to attend these universities. Nalanda University had the largest library in the world, which was unfortunately set to fire & burnt later by moghul invaders (the fire reportedly burned for three months).
Moghul and British Influence
The Moghul period brought with it the Islamic influence in education, the madrassas. The colonial system that followed with the British Raj saw the next major transformation: the widespread use of English as language of learning and instruction, and the introduction of the western system of teaching science, engineering, medicine, law and other disciplines. During the British Raj, Christian missionary schools and colleges started to dot the education landscape. Also institutions were founded as well as academies to train defense and administrative personnel. These formed the core of the higher education system going into the 20th century.
The government schools reaching into city and rural areas and the missionary schools had been the backbone of primary and secondary education, but in recent decades a mushrooming of private schools, especially in the urban areas, has drastically changed the scenario. After Independence, the Indian government set up premier tertiary institutions like the IITs for engineering education, the IIMs for management education, and similar institutions for medicine and law education. These have become benchmark institutions, recognized the world over for their excellence. Graduates from many of these institutions went to top universities around the world for their graduate education, often settling down there abroad for life and career.
Private institutions have also sprung up in large numbers in the last few decades offering widely varying educational facilities. One unfortunate trend with the growth of higher education has been an increasing emphasis on exam and grades oriented learning, fueled by the proliferation of competitive entrance exams for science, engineering, medicine, law, etc. and tutorial centres who compete to prepare the students for these exams. A material percentage of today’s college graduates are perceived as not meeting the needs of industry.
Read more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/10/09/from-vedas-to-cloud-the-transformation-of-education-in-india/