Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Indian Education System: At crossroads

In the thick of the entrance exam season and with the impending Board exams, many are contemplating whether the gamble will pay off? Whether all the years of coaching and all the money drained will reap the results and help them ace their exams? It’s a question that will be answered with time. But the other major looming question that needs to be addressed remains that-Is the test system in India, or the Education system in general, the right barometer for gauging a student’s abilities and aptitude.

On a cursory glance, the education system in India has its fair share of flaws and strengths. The problems of the Indian educational system are virtually identical to any large nation. It is an unavoidable reality- it is nearly impossible to get over one billion people to agree on anything, and education is no exception. However, on a closer look it seems like the drawbacks do somewhat overshadow everything that is good about the system. Commenting on this subject is like plunging one’s hand into a vicious cycle which seems to have no beginning or end.

Our country has the largest youth force, which implies it has the largest population of driven, young and innovative minds; and this can be a huge contributing factor when it comes to economic growth. However, the set stereotypes that forces the children to go down the trodden path instead of venturing the road less taken –have killed off the spark of innovation in children and has dragged the country down; thus turning the HR from an asset to a liability. India has become a nation of conformists who have lost their creative flair and have submitted to the norms set by the society when it comes to the ‘ideal’ career choice. In other words, there is an absence of disruptive innovators (like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates) in India. The recent initiative ‘StartUp India, StandUp India’ tends to the same to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the youth and it is yet to be seen whether it will succeed or be clouded by the same corrupt forces that loom on other schemes meant for public welfare.

In our country, too much emphasis is made on cramming and rote learning; and at the end of the day no real lessons are imparted. Once the examination is done, the information that was hurriedly stuffed in by the students easily goes away without retention. Furthermore, the lack of job opportunities and the limited seats in Higher Education intuitions have given way to a cut-throat competition as students enter into the rat race for a decent job.

 Standardized testing determines everything, and aptitude of students is not recognized outside this format. This makes one think that-if the skill set inherent differs from student to student, how can the same set of questions correctly judge a particular student’s aptitude. The measures taken to do away with the undue stress of competitiveness among students, parents and the educational institutions-CCE- is still not implemented well enough to help the country climb out of its educational abyss. Another such initiative: the infamous 4yup proposed by DU saw huge enrolments; but the way it got implemented and then scrapped off was a far cry from the zeal with which it was brought into being.

Another problem that plagues the system is that the demand for financial resources far exceeds the supply. The funds, scholarships and incentives provided by the govt often fail to reach the people they are intended for. Even for the authorities, it is money and results whereas it should have been education, results and then money. Selfishness itself propagates a chain of selfishness and corruption breeds corruption.

One of the major flaws that comes into play is the lack of diversity provided during the subject selection. Also, there is little or no flexibility when it comes to crossing over into different streams of education. Moreover, the cost benefit analysis that plays a major role in making a career decision puts intense pressure on the students and causes them to choose subjects unwillingly, which in turn, leads to a disinterested workforce.

In addition to the above, the gap between the education bequeathed by the schools and the skill set required in the job industry is huge and growing. Bridging this gap is the need of the hour, so that students turn out to be a more productive workforce and boost the GDP.

India is a country where majority of the population remains deprived of the Right to Education. The seats are reserved for the children of the affluent and the bureaucrats- leaving the deserving ones in the lurch. Add to it the donation system, the reservation system, the sky high fees, the scams involved (the Vyapam scam, for instance); and you will know the main reason why half the country is still illiterate. All the right skills & all the requisite abilities- and you may still get the short end of the stick.

Over and above all that, various tuition centres and private colleges have mushroomed with the primary objective of profit-making. Hence, we are now facing the gravest of all problems: ’Commercialisation of education’. Colleges proudly put up banners and hoardings of the 50 different companies that hired their students. These accomplishments act as some killer marketing material, because why wouldn't you want to study in a college that assures you a job after graduating? When good results matter more than how they are achieved, it becomes clear that education is considered a mere formality and just a qualification.

Out-dated pedagogy is another pertinent issue. It’s high time the rote learning is substituted by project-oriented teaching cause where there is no free thinking or meaningful research; there is also a lack of concerted engagement with industry.

Although the picture does seem dismal, there is still hope. Brains like Sundar Pichai , Satya Nadela and Indra Nooyi as the CEO's of major organisations such as Google, Microsoft and Pepsico; go a long way in proving that Indians don’t lack the calibre just the initiative.

The Indian education system is growing at a quickening rate. At the heart of these reforms and measures is the desire to correct current institutional inadequacies and assure that India becomes a powerhouse of education. The potential is huge, so is the challenge.

Article by Rishibha Tuteja
Last minute Blogger, fangirl by profession. A Bibliophile by heart, Tech–Enthusiast by choice.
She breathes dreams like air and can be reached at
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