Secondary Education System in India: Overview and Criticisms

Secondary education acts as an interface between primary education and higher education. With an aim of preparing students for the affairs of the world, it caters to the age group of fourteen to eighteen. One of the most important functions of secondary education is to meet the democratic demands of the country. Secondary education prepares students for universities and other areas of higher education. Also, secondary education is the arena where the majority of the students complete their course of learning. These factors contribute to making secondary education critical in the academic program of democracy.

Secondary Education System in India

Aims and Objectives of Secondary Education:

  • Education Commission of 1952-53:

According to the Education Commission of 1953, the aims of secondary education include the promotion of social virtues, intellectual development, and practical skills of the students. The Indian Government stated that possession of school certificates by individuals would enable them for jobs, except those which require high professional training. In order to provide for a more balanced course, reconstruction of the syllabus was aimed for. Adoption of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction has also aided in lightening the burden and making education more meaningful to young students.

One of the most meaningful recommendations included the importance imparted to crafts. The educated classes of the Indian society react adversely to manual labor. The emphasis on a craft is meant to be a remedial measure, instilling in the students a new attitude about human labor and the dignity of work. The Commission also emphasized the development of co-curricular activities so as to encourage students in thinking out of the box and also improve academic standards. An increase in co-curricular activities would lead to the creation of a number of creative spaces. Scholars have opined that the questions of discipline arise when students are not allowed to explore their creative sides and are only burdened with academia. If students are allowed to engage in both creativity and academics, discipline is maintained in schools.

  • Education Commission of 1964-66:

The commission aimed for bringing out an all-around development of the learner. It aims to train the young citizens of the country to be competent enough to bring about the social and economic development of the country. Also, it aimed to increase scientific thinking among the students. According to the Education Commission of 1964-66, the main objective of secondary education would be “national reconstruction by raising the standard of living of our people.” The goal of education is to prepare students to meet the needs of a modern democratic and socialist society. Secondary education would boost efficiency and would improve social and national cohesion. It would hasten the modernizing process and would allow pupils to participate in productive labor at school, at home, in workshops, informs, and in factories, among other places. Secondary education aimed to provide spiritual, moral, and social values among students.

  • National Policy on Education -1984 and 1992:

Education was reformed in accordance with the suggestions of the Indian Education Commission for the country’s economic and cultural development. The importance of qualitative growth of secondary education was emphasized by connecting education to students’ real-life experiences. The NPE of 1984 and the revised NPE of 1992 stressed secondary education for all-around development of the moral and spiritual qualities of individuals. It promoted self-reliance by developing manpower for the different levels of the economy. It aimed to inculcate the attributes of a good citizen amongst individuals by developing democratic rights, duties, and values and would motivate the younger generation for international cooperation and harmonious existence. Minimum Levels of Learning (MLL) would be established, and initiatives would be taken to encourage pupils to grasp a variety of cultural and social systems. It allows kids to develop physical health through physical education. Aside from that, secondary education should be based on a national curricular framework that includes a common core as well as other subjects.

  • New Education Policy of 2020:

In 1986, India established and executed its first education policy. On July 29, 2020, India’s National Education Policy (NEP) was updated, rewritten, and approved after 34 years. The initiative is a watershed moment for India’s educational system, and it will undoubtedly make India a desirable destination for higher education around the world. The policy will transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub based on the pillars of “Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, and Accountability.”  NEP 2020 emphasizes structural and structural changes in Indian higher education institutions’ regulation, governance, and promotion of multidisciplinary academics and research. With an aim of making “India a global knowledge superpower”, it vouches for universalization of education from pre-school to secondary education level with 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER(0 in school education by 2030.

Also Read: Indian Education System

Critiquing the Secondary Education System in India

Although the importance of secondary education has been stressed, it is the weakest line of the educational chain. Quantitatively, the facilities of secondary education are available to 10% of the students in the age group of 11-17. This number is insufficient to meet the needs of the growing population in a democratic country. Furthermore, the limited number of children who benefit from secondary education are frequently chosen not on the basis of their potential or merit, but on the basis of the family’s ability to pay for their education. Secondary education hasn’t been able to outline its scope and objectives in a well-defined manner. It is often viewed as the continuation of primary education or as a preparatory stage for higher education. As a matter of course children attend secondary school for continuing their elementary education. One of the biggest cons of the secondary education system in India is the over-emphasis on marks. Marks become the yardstick for judging the qualifications of students. A child excelling in creativity but with a weak academic score would be viewed as a “bad/poor student”. Students are pressurized to attain full marks in examinations by their parents and peers. This leads to student dissatisfaction and frustration. They are often pressurized to take up science and are discouraged from pursuing liberal arts or commercial studies.


Since independence efforts are being made to expand the secondary education system in India. The school was designed to serve as a hub for community activities, radiating fresh ideas for a better life in all directions. It is envisaged that the restructuring of schools will allow kids to express their creative energies while also providing free India with the leadership it requires at many levels to develop a truly cooperative commonwealth.


Kabir, Humayun, “Secondary Education in India: An Overview”, The Journal of Educational Sociology, Jan. 1955, Vol. 28, No. 5 (Jan. 1955), pp. 194-199.

Share on:

Deriving examples from American sitcoms to explain sociological perspectives, Mukta's understanding of social reality stems through films, art, and literature. A student of Miranda House, her curiosity to know more about the world led her to opt for Sociology. Viewing the world from a feminist lens, she takes small steps towards achieving a better future for women