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K-12 Education 2017-07-31

K-12 Education in India- Ensuring Basic Elementary Education to Students

K-12 education is highly regulated at Central and state government levels in India. The regulatory framework depends on the affiliating body

By Feature Writer
K-12 Education in India- Ensuring Basic Elementary Education to Students

The K-12 school system in India is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.4 million schools with over 250 million students enrolled, according to a report by EY-FICCI on the education sector in India. India has the highest number of schools and the highest number of students enrolled in the K-12 system as compared to the UK or the US.

Schools have grown at a CAGR of 2.5 per cent from 1.2 million in 2005 to 1.4 million in 2011 and student enrollment has grown at a CAGR of 2.2 per cent to reach 253 million students in 2011. While only 25% of all K-12 schools in India are private schools, they account for 40% share in student enrollment.

K12 Education in India

The K-12 system of education is about ensuring basic elementary education to students from Kindergarten to the 12th grade. Many countries have made the adoption of this system mandatory. In India too, schools are embracing K12 model of education to align with the concepts of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all) and the Right To Education (RTE). The most significant attribute of K-12 is the method of categorising the entire tenure of a student's journey in school into three phases — Kindergarten, Middle, Senior.

The K-12 sector in India can be segmented by ownership, level of education and board of affiliation. In India, 25 per cent of all K-12 schools are privately owned, thereby accounting for 40 per cent share in student enrollment. 54 per cent of all 1.46 million K—12 schools in India are managed by the Central Government / State Government, 21 per cent are managed by Municipal corporations while private schools account for 25 per cent of total number of K-12 schools in India. As regards the affiliation, 96 per cent of K-12 schools in India are affiliated to state boards, one per cent to CBSE, 0.1 per cent to CISCE and two per cent go unrecognized. In addition to the Indian boards,a large number of schools across India tie up with International Boards.

Source: EY Report on 'Growth of private sector in K-12 Education in India

Role of the private sector in k-12 Education

The contribution of the private sector to increase the standards and quality in school education has been significant. As a result, 25% of all schools in India are private schools accounting for 40% share in enrolment. The number of private schools has grown at a CAGR of 4% in the last five years much faster than the growth of public schools. Contribution to access and quality has resulted in enrolment shift from public to private schools in the recent years.

K-12 private schools today operate across a vast range of curriculums and boards. Key indicators that make them preferential today are the process of ongoing and continuous evaluation, comprehensive curriculum and syllabi based on practical applications, assessments based on interactive, skills and fun based learning which has led to better learning levels and quality of school education.

Based on current trends, it appears that the private sector may account for a 55-60% share in overall enrolment in K-12 schools by 2022. Our government and regulators need to recognize this reality.

Two of the most important Challenges faced by the K 12 Education sector


  • The challenge of access is one of increasing dropout rates and out of school children. This is because a large group of out of school children are from disadvantaged groups such as poor children, girls, children from Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Class (OBC) and other minority groups. 
  • These children have inadequate access and access to poor quality education due to large variations that exist across different states, geographical areas, and social categories such as gender, caste and ethnicity.
  • Many children drop out of school due to reasons such as remoteness of habitations with less access to schools in rural areas, poverty, gender disparities, malnutrition, etc.


  • The quality of provision in some schools in India is weak. Many schools have inadequate infrastructure, facilities and resources such as non- availability of clean drinking water, separate toilet for girl’s etc. 
  • Many teachers are untrained or undertrained and some of the curricula seen as irrelevant. There is no separate learning space for each class, lack of child-centred teaching-learning practices, high PTR. Many children learn little and are at risk of being silently excluded from the schooling process.
  • Additionally, high teacher vacancies, lack of training and high pupil-teacher ratio are various factors affecting the quality of delivery.

Role of private sectors in overcoming the challenges

The challenges posed to the private sector in K-12 education need to be addressed sooner as private players are seen playing an inevitable role in educating the masses of India. Private sector has played a significant role in India comparison to its contribution to the US or the UK.

Admission to nursery is a daunting task for parents. There should be initiatives to clear this process. Schools should be allowed to operate on short term leases or rentals. To reduce the impact of initial high cost, pooling of government and private resources should be encouraged. Private schools should also be given flexibility on the salaries in initial years.

Private sector involvement has undoubtedly helped raise the general level and variety of educational opportunities. It has helped many students tap rapidly emerging and evolving local as well as global career opportunities. 

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