Is some education is better than no education! More Indians are attending school than ever before. But they are not learning much. The world's biggest school system is also one of the worst.
Education is fundamental to an equitable society. The truth is that today, we are failing the majority of our children.
When there is smoke there is fire! The fire we are concerned about is the unproductive, fruitless education being provided in our institutes! Students study only to score marks in exams, and sometimes to crack exams like IIT-JEE, AIIMS or CLAT and NEET. In India the British introduced education systems to create clerks and civil servants. They now prepare to become engineers or doctors. We have not deviated much from that pattern till today.
There are islands of excellence in a sea of Mediocrity. For each one good center there are hundreds of mediocre and terrible schools, colleges and now even universities that do not meet even minimum standards. The shortage of good institutions has seen cut-off percentages for entry into good colleges soar to genius levels. This year's qualifying marks for two colleges in Delhi was 98.75% and even 100%.Can you believe that?
Students are spending parent's life savings and borrowed money on education - and even then not getting the standard education, and struggling to find employment of their choice. In this country, millions of students are the victim of an unrealistic, pointless, mindless rat race. The mind numbing competition and rote learning do not only crush the creativity and originality of millions of Indian students every year.
Students learning in an environment where their marks define who they are and where do they stand in the crowd. Only the marks are going to determine their future options. Securing more marks only stands in their minds. There is less focus on achieving excellence.
The story of marks does not end there. Results are announced in public. The tension starts here. Comparisons start. One is inferior or superior depending on the marks secured. Being the worst cherry on the top of a bad cake is the career pyramid. A doctor is superior to an engineer who is superior to an accountant and so on. Want to reach the top? Score more marks or perish. This is silly. Topping that is the coaching/tuition scenario, where students are coached like robots to crack the exams and achieve high grades or top their respective boards.
If you know what your problem is, you have solved half the problem already. We know what is wrong with our education system, we should start mending it.
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. Solution: promote skill based learning instead of rote based learning and bolstering innovative ideas from students.
Evaluation of students should not be centered about just their marks in exams. Shift to grading system based on classroom participation, project work, communication and leadership skills and extracurricular performance. Let the genuine student stand out.
Diversify the career Pyramid. Medicine, engineering, the IIT's and the IIM' are not the only streams. Look at humanities, art, law, accountancy, music etc. Give them sound career counseling. Sooner than later personalize and customize learning in our education system. One size does not fit all!
Govt schools struggle with poor facilities, unskilled teachers and high dropout rates. Statistics don't lie and lack of qualified teachers is a problem in both private and government schools. This is because teaching has always been the last career option for bright, young people.
Appointment of ad-hoc teachers, Lack of accountability of teachers, non teaching duties, Lack of teacher training, Poor compensation etc add to the miseries of education system.
The current situation of teacher quality and effectiveness is deplorable, but the problem is not insurmountable. In order to attract and retain highly effective teachers and principals, we need to make targeted investments to incentivize change in our education system.
The shortage exists because there are simply not enough qualified teachers to fill the number of vacant positions. There are not enough teachers who are both qualified and willing to teach particularly in those serving low-income students. The shortage has important consequences for the quality of education that students receive.
Administrators "most commonly do three things: hire less-qualified teachers, assign teachers trained in another field or grade level to teach in the understaffed area, and make extensive use of substitute teachers". Consequently, students are being taught by teachers who lack the knowledge and skills necessary for quality instruction. Studies show that teacher expertise is the most important factor in student achievement".
Teaching profession is a revolving door. Too many teachers leave teaching. School staffing cutbacks, personal and family matters and job dissatisfaction are more frequently cited as reasons for the exit.
Solution: Increasing salaries for all teachers and developing differentiated pay scales that reward expert teachers and those who take on specialized roles and responsibilities. Policymakers and education leaders do not understand the nature of the teacher shortage.
The primitiveness of the system is quite baffling. We're dealing with new scientific ideas every day. The world has moved on.
An excellent education equips children and youth with the knowledge, skills, values, and mindsets needed to be empowered individuals and responsible citizens. The fact that a high-quality education has wide-ranging benefits for individuals and societies has been demonstrated, time and again, by countries across the world. With nearly 1 in 4 people below the age of 14 years, India today stands at an inflection point; where we go from here depends in large part on our ability to provide equal opportunities for all children to attain an excellent education.
Prof. Dr. N. Prabhudev former Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology....