On the eve of independence, the level of education and literacy was very low in India.
In 1951, only 18.3% of people were literate out of which male literacy was 27.2% and female literacy rate was 8.9%.
The system of education given by British was highly unproductive. The aim of the Britishers was to create a class of literate people which would help them in administration, keeping in mind this limited objective, they did not pay any attention for the spread of education and literacy in India.
The following points explain the state of education on the eve of Independence:
1. Enrolments rate:
There were 18.3% literates in India in 1951. In primary schools, the student enrolment in the age group 6-11 years was 43 percent. The dropout rate was quite high. In 11-14 year age group i.e. from class VI to class VIII, the enrolment ratio was only 13 percent. The enrolment ratio at high school level was 5.3%. In colleges and universities the enrolment ratio is 0.33 percent. On the eve of Independence, this enrolment ratio indicates dismal picture of literacy and education.
2. Teacher-Student ratio:
In 1950-51, there was one teacher for 34 students in the primary school. Out of them only 15% was women. In middle and high schools the teacher-student ratio was 1:25 and out of these 16 percent were women teachers. Out of these total numbers of teachers 40 to 45 percent were untrained. Among the college and university teachers, 10 percent were women. The salary and working conditions of teachers were far from satisfactory.
3. Number of schools and colleges:
The number of schools and colleges was limited on the eve of Independence. In an area of 5 square miles, there was one primary school. There were 2.10 lakh primary schools in 1950-51. The number of middle schools was 13600 and high and higher secondary schools were 7416. There were 27 universities and 498 colleges in the country. For higher education enrolment rate was low due to the poverty and high cost of higher education.
4. Neglect of technical and vocational education:
The main emphasis was on general education. Technical and vocational educations were ignored. In 1951, there were only 28 medical and 4 dental colleges in the country. There were 4500 seats available in engineering and technology institutions. There were 33 engineering colleges. Professional and vocational educations like management, architecture, agriculture etc. were neglected.
5. Educational infrastructure:
There was acute shortage of infrastructure in our schools and colleges on the eve of Independence Basic facilities like buildings, play grounds, library and laboratories etc. were lacking. Books, teaching aids, science equipment even blackboards and chalks were inadequate. The academic environment was uncongenial.
6. Neglect of Indian language and culture:
English was the medium of instruction and examination at college and university level. National language and Regional languages were deliberately ignored. The study of Indian heritage and culture had no place in curriculum.
7. Neglect of weaker sections:
The education development was uneven among the states and in urban and rural areas. Scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes did not get any facility or chance to study.