A Growth Chart India’s Education Sector From 1947 to 2023

A Growth Chart: Scanning India’s Education Sector From 1947 to 2023

It goes without saying that education is the passport to the future. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. 

A young independent India that freed itself from the clutches of British rule in 1947 had to pull up its socks to make itself more educated. And that’s exactly what the country did. 

To come up with flying colours in the field of education was bound to take a long time. Despite facing tornadoes on the way, India succeeded in establishing itself amongst the largest education systems. 

India’s education sector has progressed at a breakneck speed, with an extensive network of more than 1.4 million schools. A lot of educational reforms by the government coupled with utilising untapped resources, primarily technology, have paved the way for an educated India. 

Let’s get to the bottom of how India has become a powerhouse of learning. 


The literacy rate is defined by the percentage of the population of a given age group that can read and write. The adult literacy rate corresponds to ages 15 and above, the youth literacy rate to ages 15 to 24, and the elderly to ages 65 and above. 

Source: UNESCO

When India became independent, the Literacy rate in India was only 12 per cent but it has increased to a whopping 77.7 per cent. The country is now focusing on reducing the gap in literacy rates between girls and boys. It has gradually narrowed over the years as various girl education initiatives have been implemented. 

At the time of independence, the school dropout rate was quite high but it has currently reduced to 12.6 per cent. Female students face significantly higher dropout rates as compared to male students. The reasons for the dropouts are the prevalence of early marriage and education not being considered a priority for girls.

The literacy rate in urban areas is higher as compared to rural areas. It stands at 84.11 per cent in urban India while in rural areas, it is 67.77 per cent. 

Various government schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL), Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), Mahila Samakhya, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), Samagra Shiksha Scheme and more policies and schemes are ensuring increased access to better and good quality education.  

Literacy Rate in India

  • Enrolment Ratio

Enrolment Ratio:

Total enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the eligible official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education in a given school year.

Source: UNESCO

Gross Enrolment Ratio:

Total enrolment in a particular level of school education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the Population of the official age group which corresponds to the given level of school education in a given school year. 

Source: UDISE+

Net Enrolment Ratio:

The total number of pupils enrolled in a particular level of school education who are of the corresponding official age group expressed as a percentage of the population of the official age group that corresponds to the given level of school education in a given school year.

Source: UDISE+

India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary has improved in 2021-2022 as compared to last year. There has been a notable improvement in GER of higher secondary as the number has increased from 53.8 per cent to 57.6 per cent in 2021-22.  

In 2021-22, the total number of students enrolled in school education from primary to secondary education stood at 25.57 crores, a whopping increase of 19.36 lakh enrolments as compared to 2020-21.

Over 12.29 crore girls enroled in the primary to higher secondary schools in 2021-22, showing an increase of 8.19 lakh enrolments as compared to 2020-21. The enrolment of Children with Special Needs also showed an increase of 3.45 per cent. 

  • Number of Schools, teachers and students

Number of Schools, teachers and students

  • Schools: Over the course of 7 decades of independence, the schools in India have progressed at a staggering rate. The total number of schools in 2021-22 stood at 14.89 lakhs. The number of colleges has increased from 578 colleges in 1950-51 to 42,343 colleges currently. There were only 27 universities in India in the early 1950s but the number has surged to 1,043. 


  • Teachers: Teachers are the ones who change lives, inspire dreams and are key in ensuring that students get quality education. The total number of teachers has increased from 5.38 lakhs in 1950-51 to 95 lakhs in 2021-22. The salary and working conditions of teachers have also improved. 


  • Students: The number of students enrolled for education has increased tremendously over the year. Between 2001 to 2011, the student population in India exploded from about 229 million students to 315 million, a growth of nearly 38 per cent. The number stood at 26,52,35,830 between 2021-22. 

According to the UDISE+ report, 98.22 per cent of schools have safe drinking water, 89.34 per cent of schools are equipped with electricity connections, and 87.30 per cent of schools have libraries. 

  • Dr Jaya Parekh

Ram Ratna International school

School is a microcosm. It is a little world within this bigger world. Whatever the children learn in this small world is reflected in the way they behave and contribute to the larger world once they are out of the shelter that the school provides. 

The students develop their social-emotional skills along with their cognitive abilities at school. They forge friendships and bonds with their peers and teachers that last a lifetime. They learn values which build the foundation of their character. The values and the pedagogy practised at a school build a sense of responsibility in them, nurture their creativity, and foster their innovative skills. They learn to work in a team, accept failure and mistakes, continuously work towards improvement and most importantly, live with a sense of compassion and care for others which helps them develop into balanced, sensible and responsible world citizens. 

  • Kavita Sanghvi

Chatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School

Parents entrust their children to school so that social, emotional, physical, mental, and intellectual growth is imparted in a structured environment. The school is well aware of the right concoctions to be bestowed to the child so that a balance is achieved between the five areas of holistic development. Say, for example, in the pre-primary section, the focus is primarily on social and physical development, and as the child progresses to the Primary section, the axis pivots to intellectual growth and emotional growth. In the higher class, the student is at the edge of understanding the outside world and creating a roadmap to fit in the future so mental and emotional health is of paramount importance. All this planning is well mapped to the curriculum by the school and manifested in varied curricular and cocurricular activities across the years to support students in developing their personalities. 


Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a critical role in supplementing, complementing or substituting the formal education system and reaching out to the underprivileged, challenged, and excluded sections of society. NGOs not only develop learning skills in local communities but also work as a catalyst in bringing an overall sustainable change in children’s lives. 

Despite the government playing a pivotal role in education, children in remote areas and urban slums do not get access to education. By providing quality education to such children, NGOs are working as alternative agencies and promoting awareness to bring change and holistic improvement in society. NGOs work at the grassroots of society to primarily achieve the impact on the ground. 

Hundreds and thousands of NGOs in India are changing the lives of children for the better. They are contributing their fair share in improving education, reducing poverty, promoting social welfare and developing civil society.  

  • Chinu Kwatra

Khushiyaan Foundation

NGOs in India which are working on the ground to provide Quality education to slum children with their various projects plays an important role. Whereas many are still unable to figure out where to start and where to end. A proper curriculum for slum teaching is the need of the hour. Moreover, the focus should be given to life skill teaching which is important for any kid in future.

Khushiyaan Foundation runs slum teach program named Project Pathshala which focuses on basic life skill teaching. Making kids sharp is mandatory to grow.

Moreover in our Ashram, we send kids to school and take care of their basic school teaching sessions, the focus is more on extracurricular activities which make their minds sharp and proactive.

  • Neetu Singh

Sabki Pathshala

Sabki Pathshala has been educating children for the last 8 years but the journey was not as easy as it looks. Children were not ready to study because they had to earn money so that they could run their family’s livelihood. At that time it was not easy to convince their parents because they did not know the value of education. Sabki Pathshala went door to door to make children and their parents understand the contribution that the children can make to society. 

The parents told us that they want to teach their children but they do not have the resources. Then, Sabki Pathshala launched a project “Sakhi Kaushalam” which would help them earn a livelihood. 

Gradually, Sabki Pathshala started getting enrollments. At the NGO, children not only study but are also made to participate in extra-curricular activities like dancing, art & crafts, painting, theatre, stage performances and more. Till now, thousands of children have been educated. The NGO is working full-fledged to achieve its aim of educating one lakh children so that a bigger change can be brought into society. 

  • Ila Sarin

VIDYA School

India is a vast country with a huge demographic and geographic divide, and NGOs play a key role in bringing people together. Education is imparted through many sources including public or government, private, and non-government organizations. The government or public sector is often controlled by the administration of the country and can be resource constrained in developing countries. The private sector is usually driven by profits and charges high fees that are out of the reach of the poorer segments of the population. NGOs often subscribe to altruistic values, funded by worldwide contributions, and seek to serve as catalysts for promoting sustainable educational development for everyone within the country they serve. 

Whenever there is a major imbalance, NGOs exist to balance the see-saw in times of crisis. NGOs work at the grassroots level to help underprivileged children access quality education. The goals and objectives of NGOs are set in such a way that every individual working there is self-driven and trained accordingly to accomplish the mission. NGOs focus on providing individual attention to each child, thereby, imparting not only holistic education but also the development of social, emotional and cognitive skills of a child. 

  • Nitin Jain

Spread Smile Foundation

Children are one-third of our population and all of our future. Yet, time and again crimes against children take place, snatching away their rights from them. NGOs, driven by the goal of uplifting kids, provide on-ground support. They work closely with the government and community over the issues of infant mortality, malnutrition and education.

With the same vision of empowering children, Spread Smile Foundation currently runs more than 20 welfare projects aimed at eradicating hunger, improving the access to education and protecting and promoting the rights of children. We aspire to create a world where they can laugh, learn, live in peace and be happy.

  • Uddeshya Sachan

Gurukulam Khushiyon Wala School

Every school should focus on practical learning, moral values and skills development. Knowledge is of no value unless real-life implications aren’t taught to the children. Schools should stop focusing on rote learning as it doesn’t equip the future generation with practical experiences. 

Skills imparted in schools can build a strong foundation for a thriving future. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making should be taught to prepare them for the real world. If they excel in multiple areas, they can choose from a wide range of career options and hence carve a successful path for themselves. 


When the pandemic hit the nation, the need for a hybrid model of education led to the expansion of the edtech industry. Ed-tech companies came into the limelight because of their indispensable role in transforming the consumption of education. The increased adoption of educational technology led to higher revenue and growth for edtech companies.  

According to reports, India is the second largest market for e-learning after the United States with a market size of $6 billion and is expected to grow to around $10 billion by 2025 due to several factors like an increase in online content consumption, high penetration of the internet and smart devices, and the demand for skilled professionals in the workforce.

  • Increasing Online Content Consumption

Most edtech startups today make products in video formats since learners now prefer to consume content via videos. As the demand for video content is continuously increasing, this will lead to the growth of the edtech industry. 

  • High Internet Penetration

India has around 622 million active internet users and the number will surpass 900 million by 2025 due to the increased usage of smartphones and tablets. The consistent growth in the number of internet users in the country will contribute to the expansion of the edtech industry. 

  • Increased demand for young skilled professionals

Companies nowadays demand specific skill sets as machine learning, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence are gaining popularity. To upskill their skillset, graduates and professionals are unlocking the potential of online learning platforms. In the future, demand for upskilling and reskilling will pave the way for the success of the sector.  

Its Contribution In The Education Sector

Since its evolution, the EdTech industry has provided innovative solutions to address the challenges faced by the education sector. Education has become more accessible because of the integration of technology. 

  • EdTech has enabled learners to educate themselves flexibly from the comfort of their homes and study at their convenience. 
  • EdTech has made it convenient and easy for learners to join online classes through smartphones.
  • Learners are able to get a personalised learning experience, depending on their own pace of learning. 
  • As the online courses are available in vernacular languages, learners can learn in their own language, thus helping them understand better. 
  • The burden on teachers has also been reduced due to the simplification of data management. Teachers can now focus on what actually matters. As teachers get real-time data on their student progress, they can support students as per their needs. 
  • EdTech has enabled creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. Educators are able to create a learning space where the students feel safe and inspired. 
  • Ujjwal Singh

President & CEO
Infinity Learn by Sri Chaitanya

Beyond just the tools it offers, the EdTech sector is crucial for advancing holistic learning and high-quality education. Learner-centricity or personalised learning experiences must be at the centre of any EdTech. At Infinity Learn by Sri Chaitanya, these experiences are tailored to the unique needs of each learner. Improved academic performance and engagement, critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and collaborative skills are just a few of the benefits that learners experience. 

By making high-quality educational resources accessible, we encourage effectiveness by allowing our learners to learn more than what is typically taught in the classroom. Additionally, Infinity Learn empowers teachers to deliver individualised instruction and feedback thereby, improving learner outcomes. Overall, the emphasis placed by the EdTech sector on learners’ centricity, efficacy, and improved learner outcomes contributes to the development of a more inclusive and equitable educational system.

  • Mahima Bhalotia

Founder & Trainer
The Social Paathshala

Online learning has emerged as an essential resource for education. It transformed the old “chalk style” classroom learning into a convenient, online learning platform for the entire world.

The foundation of holistic learning is based on the belief that learners may find their identity as well as purpose in life by making connections with their communities, and the natural environment, as well as inculcating deep-rooted human values namely integrity, respect, compassion, empathy, oneness and inclusion. When students from different countries, religions, castes, races, and ethnicities engage, communicate and participate in an online learning class, it helps in boosting awareness and instils a feeling of connection for students.

I have been fortunate enough to witness the seamless integration of holistic learning system with e-learning when I started taking regular online sessions for my students of The Social Paathshala. Older adults from all parts of the world came together on Zoom to attend classes & ask doubts. It gave them a friendly platform to interact with like-minded folks globally. Holistic e-learning is here to stay and is slowly paving the way towards a new style of learning!

Literacy in India



Budget Allocated on Education (Rs Crore)


81, 868













The Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister of India in February 2023 put much-needed emphasis on the country’s education sector owing to the loss it has incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector has received its highest-ever allocation of INR 1.12 lakh crore ($ 13.66 Bn). 

Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged the need for advanced teacher training and building resilient mechanisms in education delivery. The government will emphasise innovative pedagogy, dipstick surveys, continuous professional development, curriculum transaction, and ICT implementation to re-envision teachers. 

The Finance Minister also talked about the need for a National Digital Library for children and adolescents. She said, “The national digital library for children and adolescents will be set up for facilitating (the) availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres, and levels.” 

The budget also talked about the recruitment of 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (over the next three years) which would serve 3.5 lakh tribal students in the country.

While lauding the Budget, Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan said “By giving a boost to education, skill development, entrepreneurship, research and development, digital infrastructure, green growth and job creation, the Budget draws a meticulous blueprint for India at 100 and lays a solid foundation for transforming India into a technology-driven knowledge-based economy.” 

  • Make AI in India

In 2018, NITI Ayog proposed the setting up of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) for AI learning and development. It’s time for our nation to start focusing on Artificial intelligence considering the popularity that ChatGPT and other AI tools are earning in the market. While presenting the budget, Nirmala Sitharaman suggested a vision for ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI Work for India’. To make this vision a reality, the government will set up three Artificial Intelligence Centres of Excellence (CoE) in top educational institutions. 


No sector stayed untouched by the impact of Covid-19. Education too was put on hold but despite taking a hit, the Indian education system managed to provide the best education it can. E-learning and online schooling played an outstanding role here. Although the education level has increased, a lot still needs to be done. 

The future of education will be bright and promising if we make informed policy choices, critically evaluate and learn from the present and the past, and actively invest in the larger purpose and vision.

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