What exactly is wrong with School Education in India - A fresh perspective on a much explored topic.
Such an engaging topic to talk and write about, that we could discuss for ages and still find ourselves in a state of utter void. And yes that is exactly what we have done. Academecians and policy makers have long stressed on the need to reconsider our treatment of education as a tool of learning rather than our preconceived medieval notions of churning out human machines that could have once catered to the needs of Industrial revolution. We've travelled the moon and back, coloniosed space, cloned sheep, brought technology to every single one of us; still if you look at a basic classroom structure in India - it gives a glim and scary picture of failure.
Let us understand as to who exactly decides what curricullum the students follow. Well, decisions are always taken by a group of well read (not to be confused with well educated) people usually in the twilight of their careers. To add to the panel, we have some leading education companies (who are atleast giving it a shot) and heads of a few reputed schools (which is by the way less than even 1% of the entire school landscape). Clearly, on a macroscopic scale we seem to have things sorted. However, digging a little further we realise our first mistake : The exclusion of parents. A child spends only 1/4th of his time at school and that too after a specific age of 3 years or so. So, 3/4ths of the time, the child is under the custody of his parents. There has to be some way by virtue of which we can get the parents involved in the teaching learning process. Just the school should not be considered as a place where a child is sent to learn and as soon he leaves the building the learning stops. It is not an ON-OFF phenomena and the learning should continue when the child is at home.
Another missing factor : the booksellers and the publishing houses. Yes, I can understand the shock at this very inclusion. Remember the days when on the first day of school every year, we used to receive our sets of books from the school. Now, take a glimpse at the power of education as a marketable commodity. Those books didn't come for free. Or did they? The problem lies here itself. These so called publishing houses churn out the same content year after year with absolutely no innovation and research, and at the same time charging a hefty fee for the same. There is a very high probability that I would have read the same content in my days which our seniors and juniors would probably do. Schools have followed a certain revenue generation model with these publishing houses and the parents often place their blind trust in the school's decisions. Any intervention by any individual or an organisation to revamp the existing practises is seen as a violation of the existing norms and schools are almost certain to keep continuing the way they are and hence not adapting to the change.
However, today the skill set has changed completely. Where once getting a govt. job was the ultimate craze, it shifted to engineering, softwares and today machine learning or for that matter artificial intelligence are in vogue. A skill set that was guranteed to get you a livelihood 10 years ago might be completely irrevelant today. So how do we counter that? An alternative approach would be to introduce experiential lrearning in classrooms and moving away from rote learning and memorization once and for all. But who teaches these skills. Do we expect a person masquerading as teacher who himself is a biproduct of the existing system to deliver the goods. Is he himself equipped with crucial skills like conceptual understanding, analytical thinking and communication & collaboration skills? Has he been trained to bring the best out of every child ? The answer is a clear NO.
Well, gone are the days where we blatantly put everything on the government and tried to get away from our share of responsibilities. It's high time we get our understanding of stakeholders right. Parents involvement and Teacher's training coupled with producing quality content by the publishers should be the prime focus. And still the picture is not black or white. We're currently at some sort of a grey spot and there is always room for improvement. I would be writing further pieces on the approach and methodology to be followed along with the increasing role of technology in modern education in my improvement series. Till then, cheers and good bye !