The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. – Rabindranath Tagore
This quote by Rabindranath Tagore describes the core value that should form the basis of an education system. But is the current education system based on this core principle? To find out let’s relive and analyze our school and college days by dividing our time spent in our interaction with the education system into various phases.
The first phase is the pre-primary phase. A phase, when the children are hesitant to go to school whereas parents are excited seeing their child take the first step towards education. However, this excitement is short lived. They soon realize that the quality of education is directly proportional to money that they can shell out. Also, this is the first time, they are asked for ‘Donation’ which means “extortion” in admission terms. Thus, quality education becomes a luxury only within the reach of the rich.
After pre-primary, the child goes to school. The admission process is again complicated as it involves entrance exams, donations and religion/caste based quotas. This leaves both parents and the child stressed. Once an admission is secured, the Rat Race begins. Every parent wants their child to be on top, rather than gain knowledge. This gives rise to a concept of ‘by-hart ‘, the ability to memorize answers, without understanding them. Teachers encourage memorizing by awarding maximum marks to a student writing the answer as printed in the textbook. Also, to maintain a healthy passing percentage, teachers give revision questions, comprising 70% of the paper. Thus, the student studies to pass the exam, but not to understand the subject.
After school, comes the junior college. The same pandemonium for admission is repeated. There is myth that college life is just supposed to be enjoyed, without academics being taken seriously. With zero career counseling in schools, students fall for this myth. Coaching classes are seen as magic wands for shining scores in entrance exams. Reality strikes when, despite the coaching classes; marks are scored by only those who are serious towards their academics. With zero career counseling, even at this stage, students pick wrong career options or chose a college with little or no credibility.
Admission to a professional college through Centralized Admission Process is based on luck. A process where merit takes a backseat, people must take whatever college they get, or pay donations. With an outdated syllabus, professional colleges have very little to offer. Students gain little knowledge and are reduced to being clerks completing journals and assignments. Internal and practical marks are subject to the student’s relation with the teacher. It is used as a blackmailing tool to get students fall in line. Then comes the placement period, where colleges place students in herds, not caring about the nature of jobs being offered. Deals are struck beforehand with companies, giving them a free hand to do whatever they want. Students careers are played with to keep the shining placement records intact. This leaves many students suffering in their respective careers. In this Rat Race of scoring highest, wearing a degree & joining a money-making setup, essence of education is ignored.
In our education system, we would always talk about success, forgetting that ‘A Failure is a stepping stone towards success’. Failing in a subject is treated as the biggest disgrace in the history of mankind. Instead of helping the student with their weaknesses, the student is given grace marks and pushed ahead. This student with a shaky base is expected to understand advanced concepts in higher grades. Eventually, this weakness gets piled up, leaving student with a thought of himself being weak & inferior.
Albert Einstein once said “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”. This is exactly what happens in our educational institutes, resulting in children being depressed instead of being confident about their abilities.
The journey that I described shows that our education system is a memory based system. The focus is on marks rather than the knowledge gained. Innovation has no place in our education system. As a result, the students coming out of the system are hardly confident in their abilities and seldom think out of the box. Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful tool in the world.’ It is our duty to ensure that our future generation does not suffer the same fate as we have. They should learn to innovate, think out of the box and most importantly pursue their dreams and shape their own destiny.
For this to happen, our education system needs to be revamped completely. It should be a dynamic system that incorporates the skills that are required today. Career counseling should be an integral part of our system, so that the student takes the right decision regarding his/her career. Failure should not be treated as the end of the world, rather the child must be given appropriate counseling so that he works on his weaknesses and comes out on top. Dignity of Labour should be taught, so that the students learn that no work is small. Interests of students should be paramount and no student should be undermined or ridiculed just because he/she is different or his/her choices are different. Parents should be involved and counseled as they play an equally important role in the development of the student.
School and colleges form the foundation of our society. If the values of compassion , equality , respect and social responsibility are incorporated in our educational system, surely the students coming out of these institutions would be the ideal citizens that our country needs. They would be successful in their lives and would contribute towards the betterment of the society.
Its is the quality of education which will lay the foundation for the future of this county, hence it is of utmost importance that it is revamped and made student friendly. Let our future generations understand education as a way to pursue their dreams and make their parents and country proud.