“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Martin J. Haokip, a student at The Music School, Bangalore, believes that the Indian education system is obsolete in nature and stagnant in practice. “It only holds to produce ideal citizens who follow ground rules and prevent the system from failing,” he explains. “Which is why there are hardly any institutions that cater to developing the students’ individuality.”
Once Martin realized that the Indian education system had nothing to offer his music career, he dropped out of college.
The Indian edcuation system as it is currently set up is not built for the needs and requirements of 2019. That it offers little variety, and finite options is greatly problematic. It is too one dimensional, too stuck in the ways of the past.
It is not uncommon among my peers, among students in schools, colleges, and universities across the country to complain about the rigidity of the education system. The over-emphasis on the rote learning and standardised exams make it extremely narrow and pressure inducing for students who would otherwise excel in a system that was more encompassing and diverse in the way students are garded, or choices of subjects are offered.
Iaimankupar Syiem, a game design student at Asian Institute of Design, Bangalore, was a former computer engineering student. Aristic with keen interests in games and game art he lamented that the field of game design is still taken as “non-conventional” studies, where it is not really considered an actual line of study. No sooner did he come to the conclusion that computer engineering course included subjects that were in no way linked to computer engineering, than he decided to shift to game design.
“Having to study Biology in a computer engineering course seemed too weird for me and the subject combination did not make any sense,” he said. The course started to “just drag on” and seemed ridiculous to him.
According to the International Education Database which measures and ranks the impact each nation‘s education system has in stabilizing and developing their economy and social environment, India ranks 119. Being the second most populated nation in the world, this clearly indicates that there is a growing need to improve on the system. The “flaw” on its own has various permutations, however this is simply an incentive for you to think about our nation’s quality of education and perhaps try to find ways to improve on it.
The vision and mission of the Indian education system today is simply to give out degrees and diplomas, without providing any hands-on learning or even basic training or understanding of what is being taught in class. There are only a few institutions that provide vocational trainings for students, and rote learning still remains popular. Another big flaw in the education system of India is that it focuses too much on theory rather than practice. It encourages students to memorize ideas and concepts instead of learning, understanding and implementing them. “It is simply like a factory that churns out graduates, year after year.” says Professor Malcolm B Tariang.
Students are simply “made aware” of the things that are happening all around the world, however, not much is being done to improve even their own immediate surroundings. What happens in a class where students are taught about ‘racism’ by a racist teacher? How does it make sense for teachers to talk about thinking and being “progressive”, when the institution itself imposes strict rules even on issues like dress-codes ? Education is now also only seen as a formality- feeding ideologies into the student’s mind without having put too much thought into what is being taught and one’s own actions, and for the students, it is more about getting good grades to make parents proud and to get into good colleges/universities.
In Finland, a country whose education system is regarded as among the most elite in the world people have a collective view on education as a “process of learning”. Although there are similarities in the ideas between the curriculum of Finland and India, when it comes to implementing what is being taught, Finland is seen to be more successful. The schools are also given a certain amount of freedom to work with their own curriculum, which has proven to be quite effective and much more practical. There is more inclusivity in the entire process of learning and the students too, right from the primary level of education, are encouraged to be more involved, unlike in India where students are constantly made to be passive listeners in class. There is also a certain degree of involvement teachers have with the students and their parents, and constantly keep a check on the students’ growth and developments even as individuals.
It is interesting to note that the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) was last revised in 2005. In Finland the educational Curriculum was last revised in 2014.
“A large majority of Indian parents and students think of engineering, medicine, law and management as the better streams,” says Salakko Sangma, a student pursuing his Bachelor’s degree. Vocational courses are almost always looked down upon. Examples abound of students fighting againts the wishes and opinions of parents and relatives to try and pursue something out of the mainstream.
“In fact a large number of students have no choice but to graduate in Science, Humanities or Commerce, even if their ultimate goal is to become, perhaps, a musician,” Sangma elaboarted.
A major concern is related to the physical and the mental health of the students in India. Young people are presumed to be healthy, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 2.6 million (26 lakhs) people between the ages of 10 and 24 die each year, and a greater number suffer both physical and mental illness. The negative impacts on their overall growth, performance and well-being can be alarming. And some of the what they suffer include nutritional disorders (both malnutrition and over-nutrition), tobacco use, harmful alcohol and other substance use, high-risk sexual behaviours, stress, common mental disorders, and even physical injuries (road traffic injuries, self-harm, suicides, and violence of different types).
If you have not experienced it yourself, you would have at least come across students who are continuously stressed out about their studies mainly because of the pressure they are put under, when parents and teachers compare their performance to others’. Competitiveness is not necessarily a good thing. Of course, it does give one the sense of doing better and improving, but we must also take into consideration the fact that “there is no standardized form of Education” as Professor Tariang says. There is much disparity among the schools, colleges and univesities in terms of quality of education and it is quite apparent that not every student can be at the same cognitive level.
The unregulated commercialisation of higher education especially is a blight and should be deeply concerning for governments at the state and federal levels. Students are also often cheated by Colleges and Universities, and this has also been one of the biggest concerns among students and parents in the past years. Mr. Choudhry Md. Talib, a managing partner at the Krystal School of Excellence, Kolkata, believes that “the Indian Education System is becoming more of a business module”. The irony is that Institutions condemn students for cheating in examinations, but do not feel even a slight bit of shame while demanding and squeezing out every bit of money they can from students in the form of “extra” fees and fines. The bigger problem is that corruption in Institutions still prevails and is also very much being justified for. There are various institutions that allow students to buy off seats and sometimes even attendance- the very same institutions that talk about the “evils of corruption”… Coincidence? I think not!
“Creativity is as important as literacy” – Ken Robinson
Creativity and talent takes a backseat in India’s Education System. Either you have to spend a lot of time and money on specializing on a certain skill/talent, or you become another lost soul in the crowd of many. If you take a good look around you, you will definitely find a number of people who are immensely blessed with talent, but have no space to improve on them, that is, to a level where they can make a proper career out of it. One must move along with time, and it is high time for the Indian Education system, to consider programs that take care of these aspects too.
There are several institutions that include extra-curricular activities, and yes, the students do get to participate and be a part of various programs of the like. However, they remain extra activities; activities you can only engage in, during your free time. I have heard parents and teachers shut down students, telling them to “focus on studies” rather than to pursue their dreams because they can only be taken up as a “hobby”. In this sense, what needs to be done is to reward creativity and innovation, instead of trying to get students to only aspire to get better grades.
Author: Mesha Syiem
Mesha Syiem is an Editorial Intern. She is pursuing an MA in English with Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru.