Visit any school in the country. You will find loads of books in bags and bulky answers in the notebooks, waiting to be crammed. Will the students studying in this manner become our future leaders? Certainly not! The paradigm needs to shift its focus from ‘captive’ to ‘creative studies’.
The education sector in India is divided into primary, higher secondary, senior secondary and vocational education sections. Schools are regulated by NCERT. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is the apex body for curriculum related matters for school education in India. It provides support and technical assistance to a number of schools in India.
There are government run Kendriya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas and independent schools. The higher education system encompasses 700 universities and 35500 colleges. Vocational Training is conducted by private Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) and government Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).
Despite this robust network, the foundation of Indian education is shaky. It is lacking in both its outreach and content.
Primary education has been made free and compulsory for all children upto the age of 14 years, under the Right To Education, but many children in rural and remote areas still don’t have access to it. In schools that have been established, appropriate infrastructure is lacking. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme of the government was a good initiative to lure rural children to schools, but in some areas, the quality of food provided was found to be sub-standard.
According to a recent survey, it was also found that a majority of teaching posts are lying vacant in government schools. In private schools, though both the infrastructure and teaching recruitments are good, the admission process especially for nursery, is a big challenge for parents.
With time, the school curriculum also needs to evolve. Our ancient language, Sanskrit has made it to the British school curriculum, but still it’s not taken seriously in India.
As with other subjects, like Science, we lay more stress on mugging up facts, rather than understanding the concept. We want our students to score ‘high marks’, without trying to find out where their talents lie. Also, students are being dealt with, harsher than ever before. Recently, students in Kolkata and Bengaluru, were beaten up brutally, as if they were hardened criminals.
In the higher education sector also, a number of faculty positions are unoccupied, because of less job security. Also the minimal fellowships awarded for research is the reason for students not pursuing doctoral and post-doctoral studies.
All these grey areas exist notwithstanding that Indian students and professionals are considered one of the most hard working and intelligent in the world. However, if the present state of Indian education is not improved, we would lose the top honours among the best in the world, in various fields. For that, firstly students must be encouraged to ask, ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ Remember, the 2009 movie, 3 Idiots. In that ‘Rancho,’ the character played by actor Aamir Khan, taught us that a subject can become interesting if applied practically. There should not be any involvement of rote learning.
Secondly, students must be made ‘all-rounders’ by laying equal emphasis on sports. Thirdly, as PM Modi said in his Independence Day speech, girls’ toilets and other basic facilities must be ensured in all schools. Fourthly, sex education’s inclusion is the need of the hour. Fifthly, action must be taken against man handling of students. Sixthly, efforts must be directed towards bringing up female literacy rates.
Last, but not the least, tolerance to different faiths and communities, along with patriotism, must be essential ingredients of the education we impart. Value education should be the ‘raison d’etre’ of every institution. As Nelson Mandela said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”