The Indian education system has been leading manufacturer of greatest minds . Several prestigious institutes have been set up including primarily, the Indian Institutes of Technology which are ranked amongst the top 50 engineering institutes in the world. The recent education boom has is a testament to how education in India has become a business today.
The full-fledged privatization of Indian educational institutions is by no means a bad thing. This model has worked quite well in the USA and UK. This model fails to be as successful in India however for the following prime reasons:
In the USA non-college educated people can still maintain a decent standard of living. In India having a college education is imperative to ensure an above average standard of living.
A pure 10th standard graduate in India earns on an average not more than Rs. 40,000 a year.
An average BE graduate earns around Rs. 2.5 lakhs a year
In India because of a tradition rooted in the class system ‘blue-collar jobs’ are considered demeaning. To attain a white collar job, even if, for an entry level clerk position, a bachelor’s degree in arts or commerce is expected.
The value of ‘degree’ today, ranks above the value of education
On an average a BE graduate from an above average engineering college finds a job irrespective of the scores, academic performance and extra-curricular activities. This is driven by the sheer demand for engineers generated by India’s software boom.
India as a culture has conventionally focused on the wrong aspects of education. This trend may be partially attributed to the ‘rote’ style of learning things propounded by the classic system of ‘Gurukul’ from ancient India. This encouragement of rote style of learning begins from the primary school level.
Students realized that a degree from a 2nd tier engineering institute held limited value when the time came to take up a job.
The education ‘business‘ in India needs to be revamped. The unfettered and uncontrolled growth of educational institutes has led to a dip in the quality of education provided.
1. Primary and secondary school
73% of primary schools are government funded and 27% are privately owned schools
As a general rule government schools:
Have a poor teacher to student ratio >1:40.
Less focus on extra-curricular activities.
Less focus on all-round development.
Private schools provide only marginally better services. But it is clear that to succeed in India getting high marks through intense rote-style studying has become unavoidable.
Primary school and secondary school education in India suffers from the following clearly visible setbacks:
Focus on rote learning for all subjects.
Logical and analytical thinking is not promoted.
Students are not encouraged to develop opinions.
Students are discouraged from participating in extra-curricular activities which can help in all round development.
Broken down subject-wise following deficiencies are commonly observed:
More focus on learning up multiplication tables and rapid mental calculations as opposed to theory building.
Less focus on practical experiments.
Very high focus on rote learning of poetry and literature as compared to language and vocabulary development.
Very high focus on rote learning of dates, names and events as compared to development of opinion and creation of social awareness.
A major consequence of this rote-style of education is that students forget their lessons by the time they go to college because the object of their studies had been examination oriented. At a time when an individual is expected to study integrated circuit technology he/she may have forgotten the three orders of a lever.
2. High school and Intermediate:
In our system after the 10th standard board examinations the student has to attend 2 more years of college before moving into graduate education. Depending upon the location of the student he/she has three choices:
Students who intend to get into the engineering stream have the following choices:
Get into the state board and try for local engineering colleges.
Get into ISCE or CBSE board and try for AIEEE national institutes of technology or give JEE to get into the prestigious IITs.
Students who want to get into medicine have to work towards AICTE or give try out for the local medical colleges.
Best System: Primary and Secondary level:
A ‘best-of’ system should be introduced to encourage where only a certain number of subjects would be considered for the student’s assessment. Other significant subjects must enforce a nominal passing percentage requirement. This system will help a student focus on his/her interests and not be held back or bogged down by his weaknesses.
There should be a grading system where extra-curricular and co-curricular activities should be made compulsory where every student may choose an area of his/her liking. This will work towards the student’s all-round development. The student should be given credit for his/her extracurricular activities.
A full-fledged review needs to be performed to revise the whole curriculum. Education focus needs to shift from rote-based learning to application based learning.
These steps are necessary to ensure a strong base is created for higher education.
For Intermediate (11th and 12th ) level:
The 2 years between 10th standard boards and graduate education are critical to every student as they help them develop a compass for the future. It is in these years that the students develop a sense of their career ambitions and goals.
During this period the student should be given exposure to all possible fields to develop a potential career.
Extensive counseling should be provided to ensure that the student develops a good idea of what is a feasible course for the future.
To the farthest extent possible entrance examination studies should be incorporated into elective geared towards the syllabi of these examinations
The above recommendations strike at the government policy level and are by no means easy to implement. Moreover while they have an almost utopian quality, these policies are bound to be bogged down by bureaucratic hurdles and administrative red tape. Most significantly implementing these policies would require the kind of political will that has not been seen at the center or state governments since independence. Higher education in India is not controlled by the government to the extent primary and secondary school education is.
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