India/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.2 Arts in schools

The National Curriculum Framework 2005 describes the status of arts education as follows: 

Far from encouraging the pursuit of the arts, our education system has steadily discouraged young students and creative minds from taking to the arts or, at best, permits them to consider the arts to be 'useful hobbies' and' leisure activities'. The arts are reduced to tools for enhancing the prestige of the school on occasions like Independence Day, Founder's Day, Annual Day, or during an inspection of the school's progress and working. Before or after that, the arts are abandoned for the better part of a child's school life and the student is headed towards subjects that are perceived as being more worthy of attention. General awareness of the arts is also ebbing steadily among not just students, but also their guardians, teachers and even among policy makers and educationists. Schools and school authorities encourage the arts of a superficial and popular nature and take pride in putting up events that showcase song and dance performances and plays that may entertain, but have little aesthetic quality. (Source: National Curriculum Framework 2005, Pg.51, Chapter 3.1).

It argued that Arts and Culture education has never been a part of mainstream school or college curricula in India. However, in recent years there has been a growing emphasis on making arts education compulsory as a means to a more holistic education. The lack of trained arts educators, it suggested, is the major drawback in realising this ambition, given that subject experts are not, conventionally, trained educationists appointed to teach theatre, dance, drawing etc.

In recent years, the importance of arts education has gained some recognition in private schools where, though it is not a part of the curriculum, schools have the resources to sustain such activity. In most state-run schools, arts activity, even the kind outside of the curriculum, is close to nil. There are a few exceptions like the state of Karnataka that created many positions for drama and music teachers in government schools from time to time. But the teachers remain marginalised in the school system and are often forced to teach other subjects. These states are now collaborating with arts organisations to formulate syllabi inculcating the idea of arts in education. Where the arts are a part of the curriculum, it is treated as subject for which - at times - there are no teachers at all. Alternative schools, such as Montessori and International Baccalaureate schools, are setting benchmarks in incorporating arts activity into everyday school curricula.

The Karnataka government is participating in the India Foundation for the Arts’ (IFA) Kali-Kalisu[1] project that has been looking at art education in schools. The Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) in Karnataka is going through a process of revising the curriculum for schools in collaboration with the IFA. IFA is developing and implementing a course for teacher educators based on arts processes, which the DSERT proposes to be taught to pre-service teachers in colleges offering Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degrees, which will target all teachers, not just art teachers. The DSERT is also establishing an arts resource centre in Bangalore for teachers. Other programmes such as the Music Literacy Project, run jointly by Rhapsody[2] and the Nalandaway,[3] are collaborating with the Municipal Corporation of Chennai, Tamil Nadu to introduce a structured music curriculum in corporation schools.

How many hours are allocated for art and music courses in schools?

As mentioned earlier, most states in India formulate their own curriculum, and hence time allocated varies. Typically, time devoted to art decreases at the senior school levels cross various boards. Primary and middle school levels have the maximum time dedicated to art education and other art activity.  Here is a typical school schedule and subject of studies according to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSC) for Class X formulated by the Central Government agency - it asks that learning areas should include:

  • Two Languages out of: Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Lepcha, Limbu, Bhutia, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Nepali, Tibetan and Mizo;
  • Mathematics;
  • Science and Technology;
  • Social Science;
  • Work Education or Pre-vocational Education;
  • Art Education; and,
  • Physical and Health Education.

Assuming an academic week consisting of 45 periods of 40 minutes duration each, the broad distribution of periods per week would be as follows:


Suggested periods for Class X

Language I


Language II




Science and Technology


Social Science


Work Education OR PRE-Vocational Education


* Time Expected to be spend outside school hours

Art Education


Physical and Health Education










Source: CBSE Curriculum

If one considers that a typical 5-day week school schedule consisting of 9 periods a day, a student in a school would be studying Art Education for 80 minutes a week.

National Mission on Education through Information & Communication Technology (NME-ICT):

In February 2009, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, announced a major initiative, NME-ICT. The purpose of the mission was to use digital resources to arrive at the 11th Five Year Plan target of enhancing the Gross Enrolment Ratio, or GER, in Higher Education by 5% (i.e., from 11% to 16%). What this meant was that by the end of this programme, 16% of the total Indian population qualifying to be in university would be in university. This programme mainly built on the former National Programme on Technologically-Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), and although some initiatives from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) did include design, it was overwhelmingly dedicated to science and engineering.

Private e-learning via use of multimedia software is used widely in affluent private schools all over the country as teaching aids in classrooms. There been little progress in its use for teaching of the arts. The National Council for Educational Research and Training’s(NCERT) Position Paper on Educational Technology, 2006 made many recommendations for the introduction of technology in teaching, including recognition of the potential of Internet & Communication Technologoes (ICT) and the Internet, promotion of universal access, facilitation of participatory forums, and development of communities and interest groups. It asked that the NCERT work towards transforming all schools into ICT-rich environments; creating opportunities for administrators and educational leaders in the school system to become IT-savvy and become able to use ICTs competently; encouraging ICT literacy for official and personal use; building comfort - and later, creativity - in educational work and acquiring knowledge on how learning takes place in ICT-rich learning environments; and, optimising learning paths for learners with different learning styles coming from a variety of social backgrounds, including gender differences.

The Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET)is part of the National Council of Educational Research and Training. Its major aim is to promote utilisation of educational technologies viz. radio, TV, films, satellite communications and cyber media either separately or in combinations. The Institute undertakes activities to widen educational opportunities promote equity and improve quality of educational processes at school level. CIET produces interactive audio, video programmes on dance, print making apart from running online courses on education technology.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the Edusat Satellite in 2004 dedicated exclusively for educational services. The satellite is specially configured to create interactive classrooms. There are various initiatives underway that use the satellite services in schools for the blind; for educational television services in various regional languages for primary schools; general programmes for higher education; and, broadcast of curriculum-based lectures by open universities, among others.

The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) overlooks all matters concerning teachers’ education in India. NCTE has its own guidelines, which propose a balanced learning where there is equal emphasis on scientific, technical and sports disciplines, human sciences and arts & crafts education. Some of the guidelines are: to implement arts and crafts in schools; to provide adequate space and learning opportunities to these subjects in teacher education curricula; and, to make arts and crafts a compulsory component of elementary as well as secondary teacher education. Recently, NCTE developed norms and standards to create Diplomas in Arts Education for the Visual and Performing Arts and to provide teachers for art education at the elementary school levels. NCTE is in the process of finalising model curricula and syllabi for these two programmes for the benefit of examining bodies responsible for prescribing curricula and conducting examinations for certification.


Chapter published: 22-04-2014