“The lion in a circus learns that he needs to sit on the chair if his owner has a whip in his hand. But that lion is called well-trained, not well-educated.”
You might be wondering why I quoted Rancho, a male protagonist from a Bollywood movie, 3 Idiots. Well, my friend, this is what our education system is all about! The education system in India is prone to producing batches after batches of well-trained students, not well educated. I am not saying that every institute in India is included in this factory-like- version of education system, neither am I saying “system hi kharab hai” just to seek attention, what I am trying to say here is that there is something wrong with our education system, which is obviating us from attaining the success we should have attained being a country with a large youth population ! Let’s dig into this “something wrong” to some more extent now, shall we?
In India there are numerous schools(let’s not worry about the actual number) providing “systematic” education till senior secondary level, then there are numerous colleges generating thousands of graduates every year. We have classrooms, teachers, students, modern equipment and what not! Our government is investing a huge chunk of the annual budget in the education system to improve it and get well-educated citizens. All in all, we are doing great! Then suddenly an article like this pops up, creating a fuss over the education system, and we go like.. “give it a rest man!”. Well, when there is smoke there is a fire, and the fire we are concerned about is the unproductive, fruitless education being provided in our institutes! Students study only to score marks in exams, and sometimes to crack exams like IIT-JEE, AIIMS or CLAT. The colonial masters introduced education systems in India to create clerks and civil servants, and we have not deviated much from that pattern till today. If once the youngsters prepared for civil services and bank officers exams, they now prepare to become engineers or doctors. If there are a few centers of educational excellence, for each of those there are thousands of mediocre and terrible schools, colleges and now even universities that do not meet even minimum standards. You might be thinking right now… “This doesn’t seem possible.. that our education system has that many faults”, well then let me attract your attention towards some facts-
- A study by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council showed that 90% of the colleges and 70% of the universities that the council graded were of middling or poor quality.
- Shortage of teachers was endemic with even the IITs reporting a 20 to 30% shortfall in the faculty.
- Just one out of nine children finishing school joins a college. India has one of the lowest higher education enrollment ratio of 11% only. In the US it is 83%.
- A recent study showed that only one out of Ten Indian students with degrees in humanities and one out of four engineering graduates are employable.
- The shortage of good institutions has seen cut-off percentages for entry into good colleges soar to genius levels. This year’s qualifying marks for RCom(Hons) course in Delhi’s SRCC was 98.75%.
98.75 !! Can you believe that?! So basically it’s almost impossible for an average student to get into a prestigious institute. Creating a few more schools or allowing hundreds of colleges and private universities to mushroom are not going to solve the crisis of education in India. And a crisis it is — we are in a country where people are spending their parent’s life savings and borrowed money on education — and even then not getting the standard education, and struggling to find employment of their choice. In this country, millions of students are the victim of an unrealistic, pointless, mindless rat race. The mind numbing competition and rote learning do not only crush the creativity and originality of millions of Indian students every year, it also drives brilliant students to commit suicide.
How did we ended up in this mess?! Well if you wanna dig into that matter, here’s what happened-
It all starts with the famous marking scheme in our schools, Students learning in an environment where their marks define who they are and where do they stand in the crowd, conclude that in the end, only the marks are going to determine their future options, their interest towards securing more marks only stands in the minds. As a result, there is less focus on relating learning towards their life and achieving excellence in the subject matter.
If we go and tell a student to study for excelling in a subject, but not marks, they will give a laugh and rejects the idea so innocently. The parents also do the same. And of course, you can’t even initiate this topic to institutions. It’s considered as a taboo. The story of marks does not get over as the student secures some marks. There starts the real drama. The publicly announcing of the results comes in place. This is a huge drawback/error in the education system according. This leaves students to compare oneself with others on various subjects and cultivates inferior/superior thoughts on their minds.
Another problem is the basis of evaluation, for example, the handwriting of the students. A justified readable handwriting is not enough to get good marks, one with exceptional handwriting usually has an added advantage irrespective of the subject knowledge. I wonder where in our career we use our handwriting except in our signatures often!
Being the worst cherry on the top of a bad cake is the career pyramid. A doctor is superior to an engineer who is superior to an accountant and so on.. This ingrains a basic idea in students, “Well, you want to reach the top? Score more marks” — this is stupid, and topping that stupidity is the coaching/tuition scenario, where students are coached like robots to crack the exams and achieve high AIRs or top their respective boards. This is such a vicious cycle that has no end and no beginning, the students justify coaching by blaming their institutes for not providing enough knowledge themselves, and institutes blame tuition for stealing their thunder by providing knowledge ahead of the syllabus, thus occulting the interest of students in attending regular classes.
“If you know what your problem is, you have solved half the problem already”.
True that! So considering that we know what is wrong with our education system, we should start mending it. Let’s consider some amendments then –
“Give a man a fish and you feed him one day, teach him how to catch fishes and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I believe that if you teach a man a skill, you enable him for a lifetime. Knowledge is largely forgotten after the semester exam is over. Still, year after year Indian students focus on cramming information. The best crammers are rewarded by the system. This is one of the fundamental flaws of our education system and should be eliminated as soon as possible by promoting skill based learning instead of rote based learning and bolstering innovative ideas from students.
Evaluation of students should not be centered about just their marks in tests, it should be shifted to classroom participation, project work, communication and leadership skills and extracurricular performance, only then will a genuine student shine out.
Then comes the evil part, career-pyramid, How long are we going to look down upon vocational streams and look up to medicine, engineering, the IIT’s and the IIM’s? Students at the school level need to be educated through career counseling regarding the kind of streams that exist and what importance each of them plays to make an economy diverse. Coaching classes and tuitions should be demotivated at the early stage of education and mainstream institutes should be groomed to provide excellent knowledge on their own.
When you go out for shopping with your friends, do you all buy stuff of same sizes? No! Then how can we expect that what is good for one student, will be good for other students too! We surely can’t generalize the education system but this is exactly what’s happening in India. This should be remedied sooner than later by personalizing and customizing our education system. Only then we can achieve an education system which wouldn’t be criticized in an article like this anymore.
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