With the youngest population in the world, and in newsreels when our leaders do acknowledge that our young population is the natural resource India should be banking upon, the degradation of the quality of education in India, at all strata, in all dimensions, is something that must have already alarmed us, and because it hasn’t sent that shiver of scare, the situation is more hopeless.
The afore made claims, might already have got some of you thinking that I am being a pessimist, or I am simply exaggerating.
When the media has been consistently portraying that the young India is shining, and glowing, and transforming the world with its softwares and startups, how can it be that our education system is failing?
In this post, I will not even delve into the hoax that our public education system for schooling is turning into, except for in a handful of states across India. I shall reserve this for a detailed treatment in a subsequent post, and will focus on the nuances of the higher education system which has deteriorated gravely.
I teach in an undergraduate engineering college. This has given me exposure to the in’s and out’s of the education system, which otherwise would have been only a single dimesnsional opinion as a student. Not specific about the place where I teach (this place is in some ways better than the average of the whole system).
Although the problems I am going to mention are fundamentally structural, I would hold the students equally responsible for not having the vision or conviction to work towards changing the process, of which they are the engines and fuel.
The reality of most of the students, teachers, because the framework of the education system is also ‘marks driven’, seems highly contorted. Marks based evaluation, and marks for regurtitation and not for recognising ingenuity in thinking is the fundamental context of recognising the grades of students.
Formal classroom learning, without even a bit of thinking about the pros and cons of the ideas being professed, both at the teacher and the student’s level is acting the primary deterrent in this pseudo learning-pseudo evaluation system.
The marks, while firstly do not correctly reflect the comprehension of the students, and never attempt to test the ability of them to improvise these ideas are treated almost with a holy status by the students, and the whole trade of marks is an unfortunate draining of human resource.
Questions and answers, not real life problems and solutions are being projected as the reality of learning a course. With such a fundamental flaw, how can one expect students to learn anything at all, in the true sense?
Incentive is not learning
And when, some students or teachers do realise the flaws and lacunae due to the psuedo learning, and try to stretch themselves to some extent all they find themselves to be is a small minority who have to put enormous amount of effort, because the majority is sedating dormantly on the opposite side.
Out of the box thinking, activity based learning, unstructured solutions are all tabooed and booed. There is no impetus to encourage these trends of improving the stagnation, but only discouraged harshly. The true incentive is not learning, but scoring marks, which almost in a mythical manner is necessary so that it would help the students get to a decent overall average, so that they can apply for an IT job!
I have heard students and equally teachers say, “What is the use of studying an electronics or a mechanical concept, if all they want to and will end up doing is code in C, Java or update spreadsheets!”. While this might be true, they are failing to see that many highly qualififed engineers are not firstly highly qualified in their domains and are engaged in mediocre jobs is because the education they were supposed to have, and that which was to enable them to think independently, and to encourage entrpreneurs in them, or a conviction to do what they really should have done are drowned under the chaos of “placements, jobs, IT”!
I totally blame students here. And based on my own experiments in evaluating students, they are exceptionally good at rote learning, and because they are so good at regurgitating, the necessity of original ideas in many cases seem to get redundant and even with effortful thinking there isn’t any scope for ingenious answers at all.
This develops into a servile attitude, where the system has efficiently created employees who are willing to do what is asked them of, and are never bothering themselves with the more important questions of solving problems themselves.
Lack of collaboration and hands on
The streamlining of different branches of engineering for example, while is for convenience, the prospects of collaboration are also buried with this for-convenience structure. There is very little scope for collaboration, as facilitated by the system and because it is not prescribed by the University or in the syllabus, even the thought of collaboration is perceived as unholy and decried against.
And we have failed.
Not just these aspects, each of you would have experienced multiple layers of these problems, or even more. The unfortunate calamity of a structured framework that is taking toll on its resources is the gravest hinderance to the dreams of development and self sustenance of young minds, and a country full of youg minds.