Unit III: Agencies of Education

3.1. Formal – special and regular schools

3.2. Informal – family, community and mass media

3.3. Open and distance education with reference to special education

3.4. Roles of governmental and non-governmental agencies in general and special education

3.5. Equalization of educational opportunities









3.1. Formal – special and regular schools

Formal agencies are those institutions and organizations which are set up by the society deliberately with the exclusive aim imparting definite and ready-made tidbits of knowledge in a specified time under a structured environment.

There are well-defined aims and objectives, specific curriculum, definite teachers and students, definite and fixed time and place in such agencies. In short, everything or every aspects of education are pre-planned or planned in advance. Such agencies include school, college, university, library, religious institution, the recreation club, the museum, picture and art galleries, zoo, etc.


After family the educational institutions take over the charge of socialisation. In some societies (simple non-literate societies), sociali­sation takes place almost entirely within the family but in highly complex societies children are also socialised by the educational system. Schools not only teach reading, writing and other basic skills, they also teach students to develop themselves, to discipline themselves, to cooperate with others, to obey rules and to test their achievements through competition.

Schools teach sets of expecta­tions about the work, profession or occupations they will follow when they mature. Schools have the formal responsibility of imparting knowledge in those disciplines which are most central to adult functioning in our society. It has been said that learning at home is on a personal, emotional level, whereas learning at school is basically intellectual.

"Regular education" is the term often used to describe the educational experience of typically developing children. The content of this curriculum is defined in most states by state standards, many of which have adopted the Common Core State Standards. These standards define the academic skills that students should acquire at each grade level. This is the Free and Appropriate Public Education against which the program of a student who receives special education is evaluated.

In contrast, "general education" is used interchangeably with "regular education but is preferred, as it is politically correct to speak of "general education students" as opposed to "regular education students". "Regular" implies that special education students are irregular, or somehow flawed. While it's the curriculum designed for all children which are meant to meet state standards (or if adopted, the Common Core State Standards), the General Education program is also the program which the state's annual test — required by NCLB (No Child Left Behind) — is designed to evaluate. 

Regular Education and Special Education

To provide FAPE for special education students, IEP goals should be "aligned" with the Common Core State Standards. In other words, they should show that a student is being taught to standard. In some cases, with children whose disabilities are severe, IEP's will reflect a more "functional" program, which will be very loosely aligned with the Common Core State Standards, rather than directly linked to specific grade-level standards. These students are most often in self-contained programs, and they are also the most likely to be part of the three percent of students allowed to take an alternate test.

Unless students are in the most restrictive environments, they will spend some time in the regular education environment. Often, children in self-contained programs will participate in "specials" such as physical education, art, and music with students in the regular/general education programs. When assessing the amount of time spent in regular education (part of the IEP report) time spent with typical students in the lunchroom and on the playground for recess is also credited as time in the "general education" environment. 

Advantages of Formal education:

§  An organized educational model and up to date course contents.

§  Students acquire knowledge from trained and professional teachers.

§  Structured and systematic learning process.

§  Intermediate and final assessments are ensured to advance students to the next learning phase.

§  Institutions are managerially and physically organized.

§  Leads to a formally recognized certificate.

§  Easy access to jobs.

Disadvantages of Formal education:            

§  Sometimes, brilliant students are bored due to the long wait for the expiry of the academic session to promote to the next stage

§  Chance of bad habits’ adoption may be alarming due to the presence of both good and bad students in the classroom

§  Wastage of time as some lazy students may fail to learn properly in spite of motivation by the professional trainers.

§  Some unprofessional and non-standard education system may cause the wastage of time and money of the students which leads to the disappointment from formal education and argue them to go for non-formal education.

§  Costly and rigid education as compare to other forms of learning


3.2. Informal – family, community and mass media

Informal agencies are those institutions which exercise a great educative influence upon the individuals indirectly and ceaselessly throughout their life. They are called indirect agencies influencing the behaviour of the individuals. Education is provided to the individuals informally and unconsciously. These agencies lack all formalities, rules, systematization, pre-planning, premeditation or training.

There are not particular places or location for imparting education. Individuals learn incidentally and naturally by their own initiatives and efforts. Among the agencies of informal education are family, community, state, social gathering, play-ground, associations, religious ceremonies, crowds, market places, cinema house, news-paper, fairs, exhibitions, radio, television, public meeting, field trip etc.

The family:

The child’s first world is that of his family. It is a world in itself, in which the child learns to live, to move and to have his being. Within it, not only the biological tasks of birth, protection and feeding take place, but also develop those first and intimate associations with persons of different ages and sexes which form the basis of the child’s personality development.

The family is the primary agency of socialisation. It is here that the child develops an initial sense of self and habit-training—eating, sleeping etc. To a very large extent, the indoctrination of the child, whether in primitive or modem complex society, occurs within the circle of the primary family group. The child’s first human relation­ships are with the immediate members of his family—mother or nurse, siblings, father and other close relatives.

Mass media:

From early forms of print technology to electronic communication (radio, TV, etc.), the media is playing a central role in shaping the personality of the individuals. Since the last century, technological innovations such as radio, motion pictures, recorded music and television have become important agents of socialisation.

Television, in particular, is a critical force in the socialisation of children almost all over the new world. According to a study conducted in America, the average young person (between the ages of 6 and 18) spends more time watching the ‘tube’ (15,000 to 16,000 hours) than studying in school. Apart from sleeping, watching television is the most time-consuming activity of young people.

The Community:

Another crucial agency of education is the community. It offers definite environments that supply the learner’s personal experiences which the school taps. The socio psychology experience involving the community go a long way in determining the learner’s educational attainments. Yet. These educational values of the community can be said to be intrinsic.

The extrinsic role of the community in educational development is not less significant unless a ;community ,offers the needed land a proprietor may find it very difficult to establish school. Even after marking the land available the community ,works with the school to endure the lather’s progress, development and growth, many communities, like progress, development, and missionaries, really established their own schools before government grant-aided the schools. Despite the grantaiding communities continue to provide funds and facilities to the schools and monitor the teaching learning process in their own ways.

Advantages of Informal Education

§  More naturally learning process as you can learn at anywhere and at any time from your daily experience.

§  It involves activities like individual and personal research on a topic of interest for themselves by utilizing books, libraries, social media, internet or getting assistance from informal trainers.

§  Utilizes a variety of techniques.

§  No specific time span.

§  Less costly and time-efficient learning process.

§  No need to hire experts as most of the professionals may be willing to share their precious knowledge with students/public through social media and the internet.

§  Learners can be picked up the requisite information from books, TV, radio or conversations with their friends/family members.

Disadvantages of Informal Education            

§  Information acquired from the internet, social media, TV, radio or conversations with friends/family members may lead to the disinformation.

§  Utilized techniques may not be appropriate.

§  No proper schedule/time span.

§  Unpredictable results which simply the wastage of time.

§  Lack of confidence in the learner.

§  Absence of discipline, attitude and good habits.


3.3. Open and distance education with reference to special education

Non-formal education includes adult basic education, adult literacy education or school equivalency preparation.

In nonformal education, someone (who is not in school) can learn literacy, other basic skills or job skills.

Home education, individualized instruction (such as programmed learning), distance learning and computer-assisted instruction are other possibilities. 

Non-formal education is imparted consciously and deliberately and systematically implemented. It should be organized for a homogeneous group. Non-formal, education should be programmed to serve the needs of the identified group. This will necessitate flexibility in the design of the curriculum and the scheme of evaluation.

Open and Distance Learning courses, resources, and materials must be designed and delivered in such a way that the level of communication and course-taking experience is the same for students with or without disabilities. Bretz and Johnson (2000) observe that computer literacy has become recognized by education experts and researchers as a central factor in students‟ academic performance.

Distance education is a relatively new field of study and gaining prominence off late. However, different terms are used to refer to open and distance learning system. Some of them are: "correspondence education, home study, independent study, external study, continuing education, distance teaching, self instruction, adult education, technology-based or mediated education, learner-centered education, open learning, open access, flexible learning and distributed learning".

Advantages of Non-formal Education

§  Practiced and vocational training.

§  Naturally growing minds that do not wait for the system to amend.

§  Literacy with skillfulness growth in which self-learning is appreciated.

§  Flexibility in age, curriculum and time.

§  Open-ended educational system in which both the public and private sector are involved in the process.

§  No need to conduct regular exams.

§  Diploma, certificates, and award are not essential to be awarded.

Disadvantages of Non-formal Education

§  Attendance of participants is unsteady.

§  Sometimes, it’s just wastage of time as there is no need to conduct the exam on regular basis and no degree/diploma is awarded at the end of the training session.

§  Basic reading and writing skills are crucial to learn.

§  No professional and trained teachers.

§  Students may not enjoy full confidence as the regular students enjoy.

§  Some institutes provide fake certification through online courses just for the sake of earning.


3.4. Roles of governmental and non-governmental agencies in general and special education

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world and the most effective way to break out of the cycle of poverty. Yet, after 70 years of Independence, over two crore children (NSS-2014) still remain out-of-school in India. These children are not only deprived of their right to receive an education but they lose their childhood to earn bread for a living.

Government through its Right to Education Act, 2009 have been making its way in enrolling and retaining children in school especially from the marginalized sector. 

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a citizen-based association that operates independently of government, usually to deliver resources or serve some social or political purpose.

India is a vast country so in order to provide quality education they need support of other agencies for it. They are important element of contemporary Indian society. They are considered third sector, non profit, voluntary sector etc. They are supported by government but do not fall under any government policy. They have got important status among their clientele that is the deprived section due to their active contribution in that area. They work in those areas where the government initiatives are limited or lacking.

The role of NonGovernment Organizations (NGOs) in imparting education to Children with Special Needs (CWSN) all over the world cannot be undermined. “In the last few decades of the nineteen century, the NGOs have played an active role in India to impart education to children with special need (CWSN). One factor which influences the capacity of disability related NGOs to make the necessary changes, appears to relate their different forms, which range from small community based to national or international organizations.

NGOs have a tendency to work in small locations, achieving impact on the ground, as compared to the Government services that usually address the needs of a majority with little attention given to members of the civil society, who have no voice. Guardian and families play a primary role in the process of rehabilitating CWSN. They are involved at every stage of the rehabilitation procedure and their views and those of the children.

Throughout the last decade NGOs have been increasingly tapped to implement development programmes. In recent years, growing amounts of development resources have been channeled to and through NGOs in all sectors; NGOs working to improve social welfare, reduce poverty, and develop civil society have become more dependent on international donors, leading to an explosive development in local NGOs in many countries. This pattern can also be found in the education sector, where most donor agencies have expanded the resources allocated through NGOs to implement their educational programmes. More and more, donors use international and local NGOs for education service-delivery in both formal and non-formal contexts.

NGO approach to advancement is based on the principle of people’s participations. NGOs are looked upon as alternative agencies which are receiving attention now a day and are useful in promoting awareness, change and improvement in society. They are extensively involved in reducing the poverty and promoting sustainable development. They are in a position to provide social services to different parts of the society where as the government fails to provide such services.

3.5. Equalization of educational opportunities

Democracy believes in equality. Man leads a better life in democratic set up through education. The quality of education determines the goal of democracy. The widest provision of educational facilities for all its members and not for a few only, will help man to survive and succeed in a democracy.

After independence, India formulated the goal of equalisation of opportunity in education and employment, because India believed in democratic philosophy. The constitution of India also writes for the provision of educational opportunities to all people of the country. So every individual should have equal opportunities for getting education.

Regarding equalisation of educational opportunity the report of the Education Commission 1964-66 states, “One of the important social objectives of education is to equalize opportunities, enabling the backward underprivileged classes and individuals to use education as a lever for the improvement of their condition”.

A.H. Halsey opines that the role of education must largely be to maintain a society of equals.

According to NPE-1986, equalisation of education means “to provide for equal opportunity to all not only in access but also in the conditions for success”.

At present, equalisation of educational opportunity has been interpreted “as the opportunity to start together, to benefit from staggered starts, to run on the same track and to rein on progress together”.

So the term equality of educational opportunities are generally interpreted as opening of schools within walking distance of the learner, providing residential schools for children, admission of children of all communities, reducing the dropout rates, provision of non-formal education for the drop outs and provision of pre-matric and post-matric stipend etc

Constitutional Provisions for Equality of Education:

The following Articles of Indian Constitution stress the equality of educational provisions:

1.     Article 26 (1): It states that education is a fundamental right. No person should be denied admission to educational institutions on the grounds of caste, colour, creed, religion or any one of them.

2.     Article 21 (A): The 93rd Amendment of the Directive Principles of State Policy declares, “the State shall endeavour to provide … free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years.” Thus, it provides equal opportunity to all primary education for all children.

3.     Article 46: The State shall promote with special care the education and economic interests of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the weaker sections of the society.


Measures taken to Achieve Equality of Educational Opportunities:

After the independence the Government of India has undertaken a number of steps to strengthen the educational bas of SCs and STs and other weaker sections of the society under the following educational schemes:

1.     Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

2.     Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas

3.     Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

4.     Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVS)

5.     National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

6.     Community Polytechnics

The NPE 1986, lays special emphasis on equalizing educational opportunity by removing disparities in different fields.

They are as follows:

(a) Special schools with hostel facilities will be provided.

(b) Emphasis will be laid on women’s participation in vocational, technical and professional education at all levels.

(c) Adequate arrangements will be made to give vocational training to the disabled.

(d) Special incentives, help, benefits will be provided to S.C. and S.T. people.

(e) Teacher’s training programmes will be reoriented.

(f) Teachers will lead all the children equally to participate in the curricular and co-curricular activities of the school.

(g) Education will be used as an agent of basic change in the status of women.

(h) Women studies will be promoted as a part of various courses and educational institutions.

Problems of Equality of Educational Opportunity:

In-equalisation of educational opportunities arise in various ways.

They are as follows:

(i) Non-existence of educational institutions where there is no institutions.

(ii) Difference in economic status of the people.

(iii) Gender disparities.

(iv) Difference in the standards of educational institutions.

(v) Difference on home environment of the children.

(vi) Disparity between rural and urban, backward and advanced classes.

(vii) Non-availability of adequate opportunities.

(viii) Social and Psychological restraints.

(ix) Lack of motivation towards education.

(x) Low self-concept of parents.

Thus we have seen the various problems and measures for the equal opportunity of education for the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes, women and the disabled. The disparity between the education of the SC/ST and other weaker sections of the society and advanced sections is very wide. This disparity can be removed only through giving special attention to these neglected sections of the society.

Like all ideals in life, perfect equality of educational opportunity is unattainable. In a good system of education there should be a continuous attempt to identify factors which tend to create significant form of inequality and to adopt measures to eliminate them together or at least to reduce them to the minimum.