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Public education in India is controlled and funded at the central, state, and local levels. Private school options are also available, at all levels.

Historically, education in India was of the Gurukula form. Those who desired to study would go to the home of a teacher, known as a guru. If accepted, the student would move in with the guru, who would teach him the scriptures, mathematics, history, philosophy, metaphysics, or other topics. The guru would also teach the student what he needed to learn about maintaining a house, as the student would help in household tasks. The major historic religions in India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, all include the concept of a guru as teacher. Typically, the student would remain with the guru until the guru had taught the student everything that he could.

The modern education system was introduced in the 1830s. It was confined to subjects such as science and mathematics, as metaphysics and philosophy were deemed unnecessary. As teaching was confined to the classroom, close relationships between teacher and students were lost, and there was no connection with nature.

Established in 1921, the Uttar Pradesh Board of High School and Intermediate Education was the first board of education in India, with jurisdiction in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. Other school boards were later set up in other states. Although there were differences from one state to another, the board made decisions on such matters as curriculum, grading, and examination systems, and textbooks for schools within their jurisdiction.

Currently, India is divided into twenty-eight states and seven territories, with states having their own governments, while the territories are under the jurisdiction of an administrator appointed by the president. Prior to 1976, education was under the jurisdiction of the states, with the federal government involved only in coordination and setting standards for higher education. However, educational programs and policies are now suggested by the national government, although states still have a degree of freedom in the way in which they are implemented.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training is responsible for developing the framework for the national standard, while each state has a State Council for Educational Research and Training that proposes educational strategies, curricula, and evaluation methods.

Education is compulsory up to the age of fourteen, and most children are enrolled in school between the ages of six and fourteen. Particularly at the primary and secondary levels, India has a large private school system, with about 30% of students at these levels enrolled in private schools.

There are four levels in the Indian school system: lower primary (age 6-10), upper primary (11-12), high school (13-15), and higher secondary (17-18). Until the completion of high school, students largely follow a common curriculum, with the exception of regional changes due to language. There are three educational paths.

Central schools were developed for children of government employees who are often transferred to different parts of the country. These schools follow a common schedule, coordinated by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) so that a student moving from one school to another will be in the same place in his studies. A number of private schools also follow the CBSE syllabus, although they may use different textbooks.

The second path is the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), which was a replacement for the Cambridge School Certificate. Schools using this scheme are primarily private schools that cater to the children of wealthy families.

In addition, there are schools using foreign curricula, which may be modeled after the British educational system, the American system, the Montessori system, or the International Baccalaureate.

Homeschooling is legal in India, although not many explore that option.

Teacher absenteeism is very high in India. Nationwide, about 25% of paid teachers never showed up for work, as high as 40% in some areas, yet very few Indian schools have ever dismissed a teacher for repeated absences.

India has nearly five thousand vocational schools offering degrees, diplomas, and post-diplomas in architecture, engineering, and other topics. Vocational schools in India are accountable to the All India Council of Technical Education.

India's higher educations system is the third largest in the world. The main governing body for higher education is the University Grants Commission, which enforces standards and provides advisement and coordination services. India has hundreds of state and private universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education. Distance education is also a significant factor in India's higher education system.



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