“Education in the new powerhouse economies – catching up or leading the way? Discuss in relation to India and/or China.”
India and China: Catching Up And Leading The Way
In recent years, China and India have both exploded onto the international education landscape as major global forces (Altbach 2009). China is considered one of the world’s most influential economies (OECD 2010b), whilst India is seen as playing a key role in the global knowledge economy (Agarwal 2007). India has also been described as “the science superpower of the Third World” (Altbach & Chitnis 1993:1). The sheer scale of the education sectors in these countries is remarkable (Altbach & Chitnis 1993). The literature generated by academics in an effort to understand
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Historically in India, religion-based education “had an outstanding role in creating, transforming and transmitting knowledge to the people in society” (Choundhary 2008:51). In particular, India had a rich history in higher education, with Buddhist social virtues and Brahminical Hindu social order forming the social values that informed formal education programmes. Nevertheless, despite its rich educational tradition, one of the major limitations of the higher education system in ancient India was that it was confined entirely to the upper castes (Choundhary 2008). The equity issues inherent in India’s higher education system today may be considered a hangover from this aspect of its history. Whilst China and India boast a history steeped in educational tradition, India’s colonial period acted as a severe set-back to further educational developments and it is generally accepted that the foundation of modern higher education in India was laid by the British colonial regime in the mid-19th Century (Agarwal 2007, Choundhary 2008).
The British Influence in India
Ultimately, the education system implemented by the British in India was designed to serve British rulers (Choundary 2008). Agarwal (2007) describes Indian higher education under British rule as “anaemic, distorted and dysfunctional” (Agarwal 2007:198) and ultimately there to serve “the economic, political and administrative interests of the