There are times when I see India from a perspective of what have we done collectively as a nation in the last 65 years of being an independent nation. I see some progress and a good deal of degradation of human values and culture. If I look into the field of education, I think I am much happier than looking at the whole picture.
Education has grown into a big segment in India. Today, we are conscious about giving our kids quality education. Even in a household that is barely able to feed themselves, if the family head is visionary enough to let his kids have a good life, they are sent to school at all costs.
With such positive news, it warms the heart to an extent where you feel that a couple of decades ahead, we would definitely be a progressive country with a strong workforce.
So, believing that there is a strong demand for quality education in India, let’s talk about the other party involved in the equation. The educators (schools) are extremely crucial when ensuring quality education being imparted to all kids in India. Let’s not even talk about the Govt. schools. India refused to participate in the PISA 2012 test stating that our kids cannot relate to questions that mention ATMs, airbags, etc and hence are unable to understand questions. Talking about the horrendous performance in the PISA+ 2009 Test, the MHRD Representatives had earlier replied that the schools chosen to represent India in the PISA+ in 2009 were mostly Govt. Schools, hence such a dismal performance. The only good outcome of the statement is that atleast the officials accept that Public School System is in shambles but apart from that, this just shows how complacent we are towards good education for all.
A rank of 50 or 60 or 72 (out of 74) does not differentiate the poor quality of education that is imparted in India. It would all mean the same – Education in India is in shambles.
But, let’s face the truth. Even if the best CBSE and International Schools were chosen to represent India is the PISA+ Test, we would have fared equally worse. And there are extremely strong reasons to believe that. The PISA tests students on their ability to use skills imparted through school lessons in real-life situations. With the kind of rote learning system, we have it would be really impossible for India to top the test even with the best schools only involved in the testing procedure.
I had the opportunity to meet a number of Montessori Schools during our regular sales pitches to schools. I wish I could express the kind of arrogance and attitude some of these schools had just because they follow the Montessori System which makes them superior to all other schools. I must admit that they do not know that this system is 105 years old and they have still been unable to bring out improvements (even minor ones) in the system to fine tune it for modern Indian standards! So, what are they boasting about?
A lot of schools charge hefty fees, provide horse riding, swimming, golf, painting, Bharatnatyam, tennis, squash, gymnasium, and other such ‘COOL’ facilities to school students. Why don’t they teach them Vedic Mathematics to ensure that the kids have to never use a calculator ever in their life? Why don’t they help kids make their own science exhibition model rather than involve parents and teachers to ensure the aesthetic value of the science models rather than making it a point help the kids learn something?
We are a farcical bunch of people and with every passing day, we move farther away from reality. Let’s know this for a fact, if we do not change soon, our pride of being an intelligent bunch of people would just be a thing of the past, just as our pride of being a diverse but close nation is in shambles today (the political scenario).
(Please Note - This is the first of a series of blogs I have planned to write on Education Woes in India and their possible solutions.)
Written by: Priyadeep Sinha (CEO & Co-Founder of ADD-on-GYAN; Creator of Gyan Lab; Entrepreneur in Making; Mech engineer by education only; Makes and builds school experiments for a living)