Lot of talks have been revolving around the urgent need of overhauling the Indian education system. Literacy still shows scope for improvement. In 2013, the literacy rate in India was pegged at 73 percent as compared to 64.8 percent in 2001. But is literacy alone education? While we can applaud this small improvement, there is serious concern about the standards and abilities of the students who are being churned out of the schools and universities that work like factories, leading only to a rise in unemployment and widespread, potentially dangerous frustration among the youth in the county.
You go out abroad, you excel!
Two years back, a global consultant in Asia Strategy Initiative had stated that if a comparison was to be made between India and other countries, India exhibits one of the lowest group indicators in the Group 20 countries and its public education system scores very poorly as compared to emerging countries like China, Brazil and Russia. Indian graduates produce lesser number of research papers and PhDs as compared to other emerging countries. However, if they are educated abroad, many of them would excel beyond expectation in their fields of research. This shows that the Indian education system is somewhere unable to match the global standards.
What use the education here?
While there are lakhs of students graduating from various colleges every year, they lack the skills that are required in the market. If we take a look at the engineers, there are about 6.5 lakh of them graduating every year, but only about 15 percent get employed or exhibit the quality to be employed. Most of them do not have the requisite skills that the job demands. These cases talk about two things – one is quality of the graduates and the second is the mismatch in the education purportedly being supplied in the colleges and the skill required in the market.
Another major concern is the number of dropouts at primary and secondary levels of the so-called education. There are social concerns like poverty or other adverse situations that may be stopping a child from going for the customary schooling. Are there more reasons like parents not finding the education meaningful and purposeful? It looks we are caught in a vicious circle. To illustrate, what is the image that comes to the mind at the mention of a village school! Today in India, can the parents be persuaded to believe that children must finish their education for a better life?
Ancient Indian education system
On that note, let us take a brief look at the ancient Indian education system. India had an exclusive high quality education system during the ancient period, which was applauded across the world. The system then was not controlled by any external elements like the State or the Government or industry. It was, in fact, the ruler’s duty to ensure that learned scholars shared their knowledge and taught people freely. The system focused on developing the wholesome personality of the students, which included building strong character and high ideals.
Imparting education and receiving it were both considered very sacred. The teacher was the guru, and the students and the guru shared a very strong, personal relationship. Here it may be interesting to mention that it was not always mandatory for every student to seek a guru. Usually fathers took on the role of the gurus in most of the cases till they felt the need to find one.
During the students’ growing years, the guru was their friend, philosopher and guide who taught them everything – right from economics to business to safeguarding oneself to the correct philosophies of life. The relationship was so pious that the guru imparted free education to the students. After the completion of the studies, the students could give whatever they wished to the guru as a token of respect and gratitude.
Discipline was of utmost importance and instructions were considered sacred. Strict rules were laid down and a student was expected to give up anger, greed, hatred, vanity and over-joy. They were also instructed not to gamble, lie, hurt feelings, backbite and kill living beings. Every one of them led a very simple life, irrespective of whether they were rich or poor. By the time a student finished his education, he would have built a strong character, inculcated social values and civic responsibilities and would be completely equipped to serve the society.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry implements his educational reforms in India
Coming back to the education system today, we can hardly boast of anything like this. Recently there was a report that stated that Government school teachers are being asked to pass every student in the class. While this may seem an apt solution for the teacher and the students for whatever reason, in the long run, the quality of both the students and the teachers will become questionable, where the students will stop studying and the teachers teaching. Now, that is definitely a far cry from the ancient education system.
The other day, someone was mentioning that the best place to invest is the education sector, a sector that never fails to pay back the investors considering its huge demand. True, there is a huge demand and no wonder schools and colleges are mushrooming in every nook and corner.
Education becomes a business
People are indeed taking huge advantage of the demand. But the question is are the sprouting institutions able to impart the education that is essential for the students to meet the rising demands of the society today? Are these schools and colleges preparing the students so that they can become employable in the future? The answer in most of the cases will be a ‘NO’.
An overhaul in the education system is definitely required. But while doing so, can we take a few pages from the ancient education system? Yes, agreed the scenario then and today are extremely different, but can the reforms look at imbibing its basic essence – of having a very strong focus on the students, their overall development and ensuring that they became capable to serve the society; can the overhaul ensure that education once again becomes sacred and not remain as a business.
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