Evolution of Indian Boarding School Education over centuries
Posted by Strategic Communications, JGI Group on 23 Nov 2021

Evolution of Indian Boarding School Education over centuries

The concept of Boarding schools is not new in Indian Heritage. The Indian boarding school education has evolved a long way from Vedic Gurukuls to modern-day smart boarding schools. We have a rich history of residential education known as Gurukuls where students left their home at an early age and stayed with their Guru and carried on their knowledge journey.

The Vedic Philosophy divided a person’s life into four stages: Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (retired), and Sannyasa (renunciation). The first phase was considered as the learning span of a person where he would stay with his guru detached from the family ties. Along with education, spiritual enlightening was also an aim of this ancient form of education.

The focus has shifted from studying Vedas and scriptures to computer programming and virtual reality in present times. Many reforms were initiated and implemented but one thing that was constant over centuries is the Importance of education. In our country parents of every generation have always emphasized the importance of education. Indian residential schools have metamorphosed drastically with changing time, foreign influence, and even the advent of technology only for the better!

The Timeline of the Evolution of Indian Boarding School Education

As we have already said the practice of residential schools in India is centuries old so changes were inculcated in this genre of education on every major historical changing point. The boarding school education of India can hence be segregated into the following categories:

The Vedic Gurukuls - The roots of what we know today can be credited to the Vedic gurus. This period is famous for gurus like Sushruta, Valmiki, Brahmagupta, Kannada who contributed to the base of modern science and medicine today. The mode of education was mainly Gurukuls where a student had to stay with their gurus and practice primarily religious teachings and study traditional scriptures. Education was imparted verbally initially, later on, inscribing Vedas in palm leaves was done. Apart from religious teachings, the Gurus used to educate their pupils in politics, warfare and medicine, and science.

The Medieval temple schools - This period is marked by famous Indian gurus like Chanakya, Kamban, Ramanuj, Adi Shankaracharya, Gautam Buddha, and Sri Chaitanya. This era witnessed the evolution of pathshala in temples. There were instances of prejudice noticed during this period based on caste. Education was available to high-class royalty and Brahmins. This period also witnessed the establishment of the universities Takshashila and Nalanda.

The Colonial period - This period saw the advent of British influence on the age-old Indian education system. Typical western boarding schools were established that educated the students in west inclined models. Hill stations were preferred for such schools and the use of the English language was expanded. This era shaped the modern-day higher education and grading system. However, the access to these colonial boarding schools was beyond the limits of the middle or upper-middle class.

The Modern-day boarding school - The past couple of decades there has been quite an inclination for private education. So with the increase in the number of private schools and the middle class becoming more affluent, boarding school education in our country is no more prejudiced. Modern residential schools are now smart ones adopting the modes of eLearning. From curriculums to pedagogy everything has been reformed and evolved keeping the needs of modern times for a better future for the students.

An important factor that spurred the growth of boarding school education in India is the vogue of working parents. Indian families are fast becoming nuclear households if Urban India and working parents are unable to do full-time parenting and hence they are opting for boarding schools that take care of the all-around development of their kids.


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