Is our education system forcing children to learn?
The very aim of education is to make a student learn. The topic thus needs to be seen as “is the aim of education to make the children learn as per the needs of tomorrow?”
India has a large population. We need to cater for a wide range of interests and requirements within the country; ranging from students who will eventually find their vocation in skills to those would find their calling in knowledge-based fields.
Learning happens best when a student is comfortable; when the focus is on building concepts rather than on learning by rote; when the students’ curiosity is aroused and when his or her brain is tickled. Learning happens when innovation, intelligence and knowledge in its truest sense are rewarded. Given the very vast expanse of India coupled with the requirement of imparting education across the swathe of the country with the very diverse teachers available, it merits a thought whether it is even possible to implement any standard measure across the entire country.
Let us take, for example, the fact the enormous number of citizens in India who have over the past several decades been involved in agriculture. Despite these numbers, agriculture has never figured as a field of choice academically. There has been scant search on developing knowledge-based agriculture across India. The consequence of this neglect is that the per-acre yields in the fertile lands along our River valleys are far less than what obtains in the deserts in Israel.
In the past few years we have seen an unbridled rise in colleges of various hues across India; as also, an increase the number of seats these colleges are allowed to fill through admissions for example in engineering, education or any other field. Admissions allowed are almost never based on any research on the requirement of people educated in that specific field over the next few decades. There then exists a situation where certain professions, because of the glamour or attraction that they may have, make for more students qualifying in them then may actually be absorbed in the industry. We have for instance, a situation where students do various specialities in engineering; yet end up working in other industry, at levels which are far below that would suit an engineer.
There exist no incentives for opening a private school in a Rural area, to the detriment of students who are left with few options. Those private schools who do venture to open in rural areas are left to their own devices. Finding adequate numbers of qualified teachers in rural areas is a challenge by itself. Without incentives, many of the schools then fade away or lower their standards to survive. While education is in the concurrent list of the constitution , there appears to exist no incentives at the state or the central level for this noble purpose.
Coming back to the main issue in hand, it is the very purpose of education system to make students learn. The word “force“ may or may not apply. Yet there are a host of factors which need to be corrected to ensure that high levels of education are available across the country including in remote areas. Further, there is a need to match predictions of the requirements in various vocational fields in future to the subjects in which education today focuses. This needs to be backed by adequate research.
Rita Singh, with over 30 years of experience in education, is director of the Indirapuram Group of Institutions and Principal, Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad.
She has a Masters in Education and in Business Administration and a certificate in Multiple Intelligences from Harvard. She is keenly interested in education in all its facets.
She has received a number of national and international awards in education.
An ‘Ambassador of Schools’ with the British Council and associated with the Education Quality Foundation of India, she has been involved with the CBSE in a number of projects.