To What Extent is Indian ‘K-12’ Education Similar to the US System?

Education is a central issue in the development of human resources. For countries to utilize optimally economic resources endowed to them by nature, they must ensure that they have the appropriate human resources. Thus, many countries across the world are grappling with ways of enhancing education system to achieve the desired objective of transforming human resources for the benefit of society.

Countries have realized that quality of education is a fundamental factor that defines the ability of society to emancipate itself from poverty and ignorance, which are socio-economic issues that dampen quality of life.

Thus, to empower people in the society, countries have dedicated a significant part of their budget to the education sector by devising effective educational curriculum and structure to improve the quality of education that people receive. Moreover, governments have also enacted policies and legislations to ensure that education is affordable and accessible to all students without undue discrimination.

According to Singh, policymakers in the education sector have noted that quality of K-12 teachers is central in improving the superiority of education in elementary and secondary schools (11). Thus, due to the significance of K-12 education, different countries employ different educational curriculum and structure in their education system with the prime objective of developing human resources. One might ask, to what extent is the educational system of K-12 similar to the US system?

In both India and the United States, federal, state and local governments play a significant role in funding of education. The education system in Indian and the United States relies on funding from federal, state and local governments because it requires a great deal of resources and efforts.

In India, prior to 1970s, Indian constitution placed education system under state management in that the state had the responsibility to fund and control K-12 education. However, educational reforms recognized that K-12 education is critical in development of human resources, and thus incorporated central government in the management of the education system.

According to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), in 1976, a constitutional amendment provided for partnership between state and central governments in management of K-12 education system was in place (77). Thus, in Indian, management and funding of K-12 schools are under federal, state and local governments to enhance the quality of education through concerted efforts.

Likewise, K-12 schools in the United States receive funding from federal, state and local governments. Although the federal government does not have constitutional mandate of hiring teachers, constitution provides states and localities with the mandate. However, Stedman asserts that the federal government provides funding to promote K-12 quality of education through the U.S Department of Education (2).

For decades, state and local governments have been struggling to improve the quality of education at their respective jurisdictions but recent reforms in the education system have enabled the federal government to participate actively. Currently, federal government has expanded its role to include not only training of teachers but also recruitment and hiring of teachers. Thus, federal, state and local governments collaborate in funding K-12 schools in the United States.

In India and the United States, both private and public sectors provide K-12 education. Entrepreneurs have the freedom to establish K-12 schools so long as they meet requirements of education that the education system recommends. Moreover, parents have the freedom to choose what school their children should attend as they prepare them educationally to be reliable members of society.

In India, public schools have been dominant educational institutions, but currently, private schools are mushrooming rapidly since entrepreneurs have ventured into schools as lucrative businesses. Zeisberger argues that the education sector is extremely lucrative in that it has attracted approximately $40 billion worth of investments with increasing trends (4). Therefore, it means that the private sector in India is growing tremendously and will soon catch up with public sector in offering quality education to students.

Comparatively, private and public sectors provide K-12 education. For decades, public schools have been dominant institutions of the public that provide education.

However, a recent development in the education system is privatization of education services to improve the quality of education and enable parents to have a choice on how to educate their children. In the United States, constitution allows entrepreneurs to operate private schools given that they meet requirements that the education system needs.

Clincotta and Targonski assert that private schools grow exponentially in the United States because about 6 million of K-12 students, which form about 11% of all students, attend private schools (7). Religions are principal sponsors of private schools as Catholic alone sponsor over half of private schools in United States. Thus, private and public schools provide education to K-12 students in United States.

Since education is critical in socio-economic development of a nation, both India and the United States have made their K-12 education compulsory. Respective parliaments have passed legislations, which ensure that all children at the ages of about 5 years to 18 receive education to empower themselves.

In India, legislation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (1999) guarantees children to receive quality and free education up to 8th grade. Education system in the United States also offers compulsory education to K-12 students even though there is variability in the ages of students from one state to another.

Clincotta and Targonski argue that K-12 education is compulsory in the United States from the ages of about 5 years to 18 years or when a student finishes high school (5). Through policies and legislations, government compels parents to educate their children in either private or public K-12 schools so that they can enhance their social and economic status.

To improve the quality of K-12 education, both India and the United States have enacted a number of policies and legislations. Education system of India supports all students to have equal access to quality and affordable education. In India, Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (1999) is a significant legislation in K-12 education because it guarantees students to access and obtain a quality education. Basing on this Act, education system has formulated a number of policies to enhance implementation of the Act.

Comparatively, education system of the United States has two leading legislations, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965) and No Child Left Behind Act (2001), which promote accessibility and quality of education that students receive in K-12 schools. According to Spellings, No Child Left Behind Act (1965) is a significant basis reforms that the education system has done in k-12 schools (6). Hence, India and the United States have numerous policies and legislations that aid in promoting quality of education in K-12 schools.

Education systems of India and the United States have similar educational structure because they have K-12 structure. K-12 structure consists of Kindergarten and first grade through to12th grade.

For students to qualify to enter college in India and the United States, they must pass K-12 structure of education, which offers appropriate stages of the education process that are necessary in preparing students so that they can enter college at the right ages when they are not only competent but also mature.

According to Cheney and Ruzzi, education structure of K-12 is made of Kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school (6). Thus, education system of India and the United States has similar educational structure of K-12.

Moreover, educational curricula of India and the United States are similar in terms of courses that students undergo and challenges that it faces.

As educational curriculum of Indian seeks to inculcate social, economic, political and cultural values to the students, the United States education is also grappling with the same. In India, government through National Policy on Education has a mandate of reviewing educational curriculum. Likewise, state and local governments of the United States can review their educational curriculum via the U.S. Department of education.

Additionally, since technology is critical in modern education, both India and the United States have incorporated technological courses in their curriculum. Manzo argues that India and the United States have invested heavily on their curriculum by providing technological skills to K-12 students (Para. 9). Therefore, educational curriculum of India and the United States are technologically oriented for they have incorporated technological courses in their curriculum.

In conclusion, education is a fundamental process that people must undergo to obtain knowledge and enhance human resources. Since human resources are essential in emancipating society from shackles of poverty and ignorance, various governments do spend billions of dollars in providing quality education to its people.

Examination of India and the United States education system of K-12 indicates that they have some similarities in terms of funding, nature of K-12 schools, policies and legislations, and the education system. Similarity of education systems of Indian and the United States indicates that education systems synchronize across the world.

Works Cited

Cheney, Gretchen, and Ruzzi Betsy. A Profile of the Indian Education System. Oxford: National Center on Education and the Economy, 2006. Print.

Clincotta, Howard, and Rosalie Targonski. U.S.A Education in Brief. Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State (n.d). Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Manzo, Kathleen. Global Competition: U.S. Students Vs. International Peers. Education Week, 2009. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

National Council of Educational Research and Training. Education Policies and Curriculum at the Upper Primary and Secondary Education Levels in India, 1999. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Singh, Gretham. Indian Education Services Sector. Credit Suisse 1.1 (2007): 1-60.

Spellings, Margaret. 10 Facts about K-12 Education Funding. U.S. Department of Education, 2005. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Stedman, James. K-12 Teacher Quality: Issues and Legislature Action. Congressional Research Service, 2004. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Zeisberger, Claudia. Private Equity: Outlook on the Private Equity Potential in India’s Education Sector Based on Lessons from US. European Institute of Business Administration 2.4 (2009): 1-32.