Culture of Trust and Learning

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India's Education System - Why it needs to be reformed

"We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing."  ~ R. W. Emerson

Education is one of the fundamental rights in India now. Though to how much extent that right is being delivered to people is a matter of extreme concern, we also need to think about the standards of education in our country first. Many say the Indian education system is one of the finest. I disagree. I think that statement has got it wrong because of two reasons: One, the education system for India isn't the same throughout the country and two, the syllabus or portions may be really good – not the system as a whole.

First things first, there is no common board of syllabus for all the schools in India so basically, there’s nothing as the ‘Indian Education system’. Maybe we can call it the ‘Set of all education systems in India’ or something of that sort. However, I’m not sure if India needs a common education system or not. Think about it. A common system will surely be in the control of the Government and we know how things turn out when the Government is in charge. But then, the common system will ensure equality for all the students and a sense of belonging to the country. Broadly speaking, it will make something common for all of us [which is saying something, as there are few things that are common for all Indians].

My second point that the education system is not entirely good is based on facts… such as the percentage of graduated engineers who are employable, the number of children who drop out from school, the percentage of teenage suicides [that includes those who kill themselves because they've got low marks] in a year and the number of children who drop out of school. I can also include how some of the stuff in the system is completely useless, but then, my criticisms maybe affected because of my own experience with school. I've heard of many students who were dumb and senseless in Indian schools fare very well in foreign colleges. I've also heard of many ‘brilliant’ students of Indian schools fare very badly in Indian colleges [including the IIT and the AIIMS]. I cannot help but reflect on how almost every engineering graduate student I see says how they had to study stuff which was totally irrelevant to the job they might take up later on.

The main problems facing the higher science & technology (S&T) education system today are quite well known – over-centralization and lack of autonomy and accountability (most institutions have little authority even in the area of faculty appointments, student admissions, structure of programs and financial management) resource constraints and wastage (heavy subsidies, lack of resource sharing among institutions, high drop out rates); poor quality and relevance (outdated programs leading to skill shortages in various industries); difficulties in attracting and retaining high quality teaching professional (industry salaries are higher so many students get a job or go abroad for higher studies than enter teaching); poor technology and infrastructure support (limited use of IT, poor quality of libraries, non-existent laboratory facilities); limited access and regional disparity (the four southern states alone account for over 70 per cent of engineering seats in the country).

Another rather disturbing aspect is that India has the largest number of teenage suicides per year, which are partly caused by board exams [at the end of class 10 and 12] and their results. It’s easy to blame the children because of their stupidity, ignorance, etc. But think… just think… why would a child be driven to kill himself or herself? Not so many children/students in India could be retarded. And no one can honestly dare to say that the number is because of India’s huge population. What about China then? No… The only reason possible is the education system of India and the society. There’s a new social evil now – ‘marks are your life’. So when the students don’t get marks, they take it as the end of their lives. Makes sense.

You can lecture them. You can quote some sayings like, “If you are not afraid to die, then why afraid to live?” You can even try to counsel each and every child, but you will only be treating the symptom and not the entire disease. If there is one thing I discovered from reading a blog, it is this – Treating the symptom is not going to cure the disease. There are so many people sweating over curing the symptoms that I can’t help but laugh [if I don’t laugh, I’ll probably cry]. Take the instance when it was proposed that 10th board exams should be canceled. Why? – Because it laid undue stress on the students. My question is, why did it lay undue stress on the children? Because of the parents, the society and something else that was inherently wrong in the system. Why not change those root factors rather than superficially removing the signs of wilting alone? Imagine what would happen is instead of rectifying an engine failure; you try to simply remove the signs of malfunctioning. That’s what will happen every time someone tries to remove the symptom instead of the disease. 
Education so badly needs a reform.

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