Education has been a problem in our country and lack of it has been blamed for all sorts of evil for hundreds of years. Even Rabindranath Tagore wrote lengthy articles about how Indian education system needs to change. Funny thing is that from the colonial times, few things have changed. We have established IITs, IIMs, law schools and other institutions of excellence; students now routinely score 90% marks so that even students with 90+ percentage find it difficult to get into the colleges of their choice; but we do more of the same old stuff.
Rote learning still plagues our system, 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 en masse for civil services and bank officers exams, they now prepare to become engineers. If there are a few centres 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. If things have changed a little bit somewhere, elsewhere things have sunk into further inertia, corruption and lack of ambition.
Education system in India is failing because of more intrinsic reasons. There are systemic faults that do not let our demand for good education translate into a great marketplace with excellent education services. What should change in India education system? What needs to be fixed at the earliest? Here is what we feel:
Focus on skill based education
Our education system is geared towards teaching and testing knowledge at every level as opposed to teaching skills. “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.
Reward creativity, original thinking, research and innovation
Our education system rarely rewards what deserves highest academic accolades. Deviance is discouraged. Risk taking is mocked. Our testing and marking systems need to be built to recognize original contributions, in form of creativity, problem solving, valuable original research and innovation. If we could do this successfully Indian education system would have changed overnight.
Memorising is no learning; the biggest flaw in our education system is perhaps that it incentivizes memorizing above originality.
Implement massive technology infrastructure for education
India needs to embrace internet and technology if it has to teach all of its huge population, the majority of which is located in remote villages. Now that we have computers and internet, it makes sense to invest in technological infrastructure that will make access to knowledge easier than ever. Instead of focussing on outdated models of brick and mortar colleges and universities, we need to create educational delivery mechanisms that can actually take the wealth of human knowledge to the masses. The tools for this dissemination will be cheap smartphones , tablets and computers with high speed internet connection. While all these are becoming more possible than ever before, there is lot of innovation yet to take place in this space.
Re-define the purpose of the education system
We may have the most number of engineering graduates in the world, but that certainly has not translated into much technological innovation here. Rather, we are busy running the call centres of the rest of the world – that is where our engineering skills end.
The goal of our new education system should be to create entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, scientists, thinkers and writers who can establish the foundation of a knowledge based economy rather than the low-quality service provider nation that we are turning into.
Personalize education – one size does not fit all
Assembly line education prepares assembly line workers. However, the drift of economic world is away from assembly line production. Indian education system is built on the presumption that if something is good for one kid, it is good for all kids.
Some kids learn faster, some are comparatively slow. Some people are visual learners, others are auditory learners, and still some others learn faster from experience. If one massive monolithic education system has to provide education to everyone, then there is no option but to assume that one size fits all. If however, we can effectively decentralize education, and if the government did not obsessively control what would be the “syllabus” and what will be the method of instruction, there could be an explosion of new and innovative courses geared towards serving various niches of learners,
Take for example, the market for learning dancing. There are very different dance forms that attract students with different tastes. More importantly, different teachers and institutes have developed different ways of teaching dancing. This could never happen if there was a central board of dancing education which enforced strict standards of what will be taught and how such things are to be taught.
Central regulation kills choice, and stifles innovation too. As far as education is concerned, availability of choices, de-regulation, profitability, entrepreneurship and emergence of niche courses are all inter-connected.
Hi-Tech Gurukul is a definite step by the St. Joseph group to eradicate the above mentioned shortcomings of the Indian Schooling system. We at Hi-Tech Gurukul believe in our vision and are determined to take this strong step in the right direction. The school opens up for its first sesson on 1st April 2014. Follow the blog for more updates.