A week ago I asked my younger siblings to write a page on the topic The India I Want to Live In and surprisingly they wanted the same things which I also wanted when I was their age (I want those things now also). And most of the children have the same thoughts, which got me thinking that when everyone in their childhood dreams of a beautiful country then why is India performing poorly on major global reports? India ranks, 140th out of 156 countries in the Global Happiness Index, 130th out of 189 countries in the World Happiness Index, 95th out of 129 countries in Gender Inequality Index, 177th among 180 countries in Environmental Performance Index, 103rd among 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index, 145th among 195 countries in Healthcare Access and Quality Index and has been adjudged as the most dangerous country for women in the world.
When we pick up any problem and discuss their solutions, education is the most generic answer. Whether we take poverty, women safety, agriculture crisis, communalism and casteism, corruption, environmental crisis etc.
The first response to the reason behind these problems is the lack of education. It is terrible that even after knowing that education can address most of our problems, we arent focusing on it.
Shortcomings in the School Education System:
Indian School Education has gone for a toss: Cambridge International Global Education Census Report has found that Indian school students take the maximum number of extra tuitions among the 10 focussed countries including the USA. According to the survey, 73% of the teachers in India teach their students the different types of responses for questions asked in the examination. Instead of teaching the students the basic concepts, clearing the doubts other than the scope of syllabus but related to the topic, using teaching aids for better understanding of the students the teachers focus on preparing the students to crack exams.
The quality of education in government schools is already substandard. Poor infrastructure, the quality of teachers is below par, on an average 25% of them are absent every day and those present lack motivations and no scope for digital education. Rural girls seldom go to schools and their dropout rates are high due to various reasons like regressive social norms, lack of proper toilets (The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 data found that only 68% of toilets in government schools are usable) etc.
The private schools are no better. In my years of home tutoring, I learnt that the teachers have stopped teaching in the classes. They just give students notes pertaining to cursor points and then the students are loaded with homework. Some teachers make WhatsApp groups and share the notes on them. Since the student hasnt understood or learnt anything, he is forced to take private tuitions. It is really disturbing for me to see parents depositing school fees in lakhs every year and spending thousands additionally on private tuitions. Ideally, the student should not feel the need for tuitions after studying at school.
Moral Sciences absent from the curriculum: Moral Sciences are wrongly considered to be not as important as Mathematics or Science. Moral Science is essential for the development of a healthy thought process and value system in a child. The benefits of Moral Education are manifold. It will make the children, compassionate, tolerant, civic-minded, understand their responsibilities towards their family and society. In the long run, it will reduce corruption, enhance women safety, will lead to the sustainable development of the country. Regular moral education will ensure that the child will turn into a responsible and proactive citizen of the country.
Shortcomings in the Higher Education System:
Condition of higher education is also not a promising one. The plight of Indian Higher Education System can be understood from the fact that Indians spend Rs. 65,000 crores annually on foreign education which is almost the twice of the governments higher education budget. Also, every year only one or two Indian universities are able to secure a place in the top 200 universities of the world. These two facts are very alarming when we know and boast of India being a young country. If we are unable to work on their upliftment these human resources are going to become a burden on the country. The major shortcomings in the higher education system are:
Underinvestment: Though we have been establishing national level institutes from the past 40 years but we havent been investing to maintain their standards. Funds are needed for quality education. Even the top Indian institutes lack proper infrastructure, labs, resources etc. And even whatever is available is just for the sake of passing the students in the examination and sits idle the rest of the time.
India also failed in making the research field lucrative: The remunerations for the research fellows in India is quite low as compared to that in the other countries, as a result, the bright minds move to other countries and perform brilliantly as there, they get better resources and compensation and India misses out on the breakthrough innovations, discoveries and technologies.
Standardization of Education: During the expansion of the educational institutes in India in order to manage them better we standardized the education system forgetting that different people need different education that leads to, teachers teaching in a way that focuses on getting good marks in the exam and those institutes who could have done better on their own got held back.
Inability to bring different disciplines together: Today no problem has a single solution or no new technology is related to a single discipline. We need multiple inputs from multiple disciplines and our institutes have failed in doing so. For example, a mechanical engineering student is rarely taught about modern computer languages, electronics, automation etc. Whereas the scope of pure mechanical engineering is diminishing at an exponential rate. Modern-day machines are manufactured by taking inputs from multiple fields. Thus, it is important to impart these kinds of knowledge to the students.
One problem which is adversely affecting all the students and our countrys future is our Evaluation System.
The importance accorded to school-leaving or University examinations in India puts enormous pressure on students to score the highest possible marks. But how credible or relevant is the present system which was designed in the latter half of the 19th century by the Britishers as a way to determine who can be selected for further education, which was very scarce at that time, and also for lower-level jobs in offices? Now the scenario and needs have changed, but the evaluation system is still the same in India.
Our system compares very poorly with the evaluation and assessment systems of the European, American and Chinese societies. These societies have reformed their evaluation systems from within by improving teachers understanding of what they are looking for in a child right from the start. They moved on to far more holistic ways of assessing each childs own growth trajectory right from the beginning. Even where there are public exams, they are taken with much greater care for objectivity and justice for every child. In our case, we dont equip our teachers with a deep understanding of how children learn and how to assess a childs growth. Our system right from the beginning becomes intensely competitive and stressful and starts promoting cramming as a way to move forward with high marks.
In the developed countries the public exam has questions that are on concepts, critical thinking and various ways of looking at the avenues of knowledge. There are criteria for judging the veracity of that knowledge. Our emphasis is on speedy reproduction of information.
The board exams also create an illusion of equal opportunity in an otherwise highly unequal society. It is in the exam that all children no matter what their background is, or whether they study in a posh school or a poor school face the same test of three hours. The names are replaced with roll numbers, and the evaluators identity is also confidential. Thus, confidentiality enhances the legitimacy of a situation where children from contrasting circumstances are given an equal-looking opportunity.