Nation Other News 29 Apr 2018 Education: First cla ...

Education: First class problem, second class solutions

Published Apr 29, 2018, 6:51 am IST
Updated Apr 29, 2018, 6:51 am IST
Select school principals based on merit and train them for leadership.
The dismal data on school learning outcomes five years after RTE act is a rude reminder that mere legislations do not lead to better welfare outcomes.
 The dismal data on school learning outcomes five years after RTE act is a rude reminder that mere legislations do not lead to better welfare outcomes.

Our Education System Is broken. Education should be the breeding ground for brilliance, optimism, and new thinking. More Indians are attending schools than ever before. But they are not learning much. The consequences of failure are profound.

Education should become accessible and affordable. India has made primary education universal. The world's biggest school system is also one of the worst. The quality of schools remains a scandal. Quality of basic education is very poor. 


The Right to Education Act is the buzzword, and I feel in many ways it could have been better. Its main focus is on inputs to the education- enrollment rates and infrastructure, and not quality of education. There is no focus on pre-school engagement. 

India, with more than 1.4 million schools and more than 230 million enrolments, is home to one of the largest and complex school education systems in the world. Kids are not just numbers.

A major problem faced by the Primary Education sector is the barrier in language. Educating in their respective mother tongue is the best option. Parents think that English should be the prime language.

By law, pupils are automatically shoved up to the next grade each year. Teachers have little incentive to help them grasp the curriculum. India's 17,000 teacher-training institutes are low-grade degree shops. There is a massive shortage of teachers -3 million. 

ICT for Education projects are limited to providing band aids without addressing the real issues. Corruption level is high. Lack of accountability is a major issue. Teachers should be recruited for their talents, not their connections. 

The lack of learning in schools calls for changes to teacher education. Upgrade teacher education both in terms of curriculum and pedagogy by collaboration facilitated through technology, collaborative research projects, teacher exchanges, and subsidized online courses for teachers.

ASER 2016 mentions that learning levels remain depressingly low across the country. While 97% of children aged 6-14 years across India are enrolled in a school, only 13% of the children in grade two can read. 

Studies show that reading and arithmetic learning levels in schools have not improved over the years. There is decline in learning outcomes. The educational system has simply stopped working. It is aged and is broke.

2017-Students assessment survey has stated that 36 lakh students were surveyed from 50,000 schools. 10 lakh students- required remedial classes in all subjects, 4.5 lakhs- needed remedial classes in science and mathematics and more than 50% fifth-grade students in India cannot read second-grade texts. 

There is a shift in enrolment towards private schooling, and within private schools, a surge in English learning levels. The 2009 Right to Education Act, with its fixation on inputs, appear out of tune with the parental demand for English and with the rapid changes in communication technology unleashed by the internet.

The school system in Finland is extraordinary; they have consistently come at the top for the international ranking for education. There are no "bad teachers". Finland only accepts 10% of its applicants. 66% of students go to university, 93% graduate. The school system is 100% state funded.

The dismal data on school learning outcomes five years after RTE act is a rude reminder that mere legislations do not lead to better welfare outcomes. Policy of "Some education is better than no education", massification of education with poor quality outcomes should be done with. It needs to set benchmarks for teachers and measure success by learning outcomes. 

Over time, teacher and student absenteeism in government schools is rampant, accountability all but vanished, and rigid teaching methods failed to encourage students to develop problem-solving skills. Yet government teachers are typically better paid than their private-school counterparts. Political connectedness makes them free from accountability. Hire teachers who want to teach and let them teach. Do not interfere! 

Rather than erecting roadblocks for private schools, the Indian government ought to leave them alone and focus on making government schools more competitive by attracting top-quality teachers. Reward effective teachers and fire the inept ones.

Why fix what's not broken?" is a common refrain. But let's be honest - education is broken. 

Redefine the classroom with the use of pedagogy and digitization. 

Redefine teachers. Teachers are quickly becoming facilitators, guides and mentors. 

grasp the concept of "any time, any place" learning

Redefine assignments. Communication abilities have expanded; students are finding an enormous amount of material at their fingertips.

In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why not in schools for children's education?

Way forward.
Full and equitable funding for public schools, 

Teacher / student ratios that allow students to get the attention and support they need.

A challenging curriculum that encourages all students to reach their full potential

Explicit focus on student learning outcomes

Have inclusive schools with a culture of excellence for children to succeed.

Reform curricula to focus on building 21st century skills and holistic development of children. 

Select school principals based on merit and train them for leadership.

The conversation in education has started moving away from the infrastructure and inputs to improving quality in terms of outcomes. Design policies that are student-centric and teacher-centric to catalyze a learning revolution in the country. We still have a long way to go.

Technology provides quality - that promotes both excellence and equity in school. Teacher's role changes from being the provider of information,  facilitating students' access to, and interpretation of information. 

The journey to an excellent education system for all of India's children must be driven by strong political will and resolute leadership at the highest levels of Government. It must be based on an ambitious vision and well defined goals for the entire school system. The path to establishing an excellent education system in India is complex but the future of our country demands that we give it our best effort.

Although there are still lots of work to be done, I'm quite optimistic about the future of our education. I'm excited to see a world where we can bring back a system of education that allows students to find and use their natural talents and inclinations to make the world around them a better place.

Dr. N. Prabhu Deva is Vice Chancellor,  Bangalore University

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru