Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central, state, and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14. The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5.
India has made progress in terms of increasing the primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three-quarters of the population in the 7–10 age group, by 2011. India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to its economic development. Much of the progress, especially in higher education and scientific research, has been credited to various public institutions. While enrolment in higher education has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching a Gross Enrolment Ratio of 24% in 2013, there still remains a significant distance to catch up with tertiary education enrolment levels of developed nations, a challenge that will be necessary to overcome in order to continue to reap a demographic dividend from India's comparatively young population.
At the primary and secondary level, India has a large private school system complementing the government run schools, with 29% of students receiving private education in the 6 to 14 age group. Certain post-secondary technical schools are also private. The private education market in India had a revenue of US$450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market.
The Indian government lays emphasis on primary education, also referred to as elementary education, to children aged 6 to 14 years old. The Indian government has also banned child labour in order to ensure that the children do not enter unsafe working conditions. However, both free education and the ban on child labour are difficult to enforce due to economic disparity and social conditions. 80% of all recognised schools at the elementary stage are government run or supported, making it the largest provider of education in the country.
Secondary education covers children aged 12 to 18, a group comprising 8.85 crore children according to the 2001 Census of India. The final two years of secondary is often called Higher Secondary (HS), Senior Secondary, or simply the "+2" stage. The two halves of secondary education are each an important stage for which a pass certificate is needed, and thus are affiliated by central boards of education under HRD ministry, before one can pursue higher education, including college or professional courses.
According to current estimates, 29% of Indian children are privately educated. With more than 50% children enrolling in private schools in urban areas, the balance has already tilted towards private schooling in cities; and, even in rural areas, nearly 20% of the children in 2004-5 were enrolled in private schools.
As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC) listed India as having 410 international schools. ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country's national curriculum and is international in its orientation." This definition is used by publications including The Economist.
After passing the Higher Secondary Examination (the Standard 12 examination), students may enroll in general degree programs such as bachelor's degree in arts, commerce or science, or professional degree program such as engineering, law or medicine. India's higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States. The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission (India), which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state. Accreditation for higher learning is overseen by 12 autonomous institutions established by the University Grants Commission.
From the first Five-year Plan onwards, India's emphasis was to develop a pool of scientifically inclined manpower. India's National Policy on Education (NPE) provisioned for an apex body for regulation and development of higher technical education, which came into being as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 1987 through an act of the Indian parliament. At the federal level, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology are deemed of national importance.
India's All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) reported, in 2013, that there are more than 4,599 vocational institutions that offer degrees, diploma and post-diploma in architecture, engineering, hotel management, infrastructure, pharmacy, technology, town services and others. There were 17.4 lakh students enrolled in these schools. Total annual intake capacity for technical diplomas and degrees exceeded 34 lakhs in 2012
At the school level, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides opportunities for continuing education to those who missed completing school education. 14 lakh students are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level through open and distance learning. In 2012 Various state governments also introduced "STATE OPEN SCHOOL" to provide distance education