Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures: India Background Paper

Executive Summary

India’s post-Independence education system was rooted in a century and a half of colonial institutional structures and values. Despite the foundational critique of the narrow individualistic and economic aims of modernity embedded in anti-colonial narratives, many nationalist leaders did not question the epistemic bases of colonial knowledges structured on the binaries of tradition versus modernity, subjective versus objective. Questions of equality in education that came from anti-caste discourse and movements predated the anti-colonial struggle for India’s freedom. However, nationalist leaders skirted making the epistemic connection of challenging Brahmanical hegemony and patriarchy, which were strong forces in the debate on Indian state creation.