The Indian Education system – In Good Hands?

I was listening to Kapil Sibal on TV yesterday and felt that he has the right ideas about the educational system. I also liked the Hindustan Times representative who said that in year “In his first year, Mr. Sibal has passed the theory examinations now we have to look at the practicals”.

There has been a lot done in terms of law , statute and drawing board level and also a few implementations.

Key achievements have been

  • Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill
  • Launching of Saakshar Bharat – To ensure equity and inclusiveness, achieve the overall objectives of reducing gender gap in literacy levels and minimize social disparities, nearly 60 out of 70 million targeted beneficiaries, that is 85% of the total target, will be women and nearly 50% of the target group will comprise SCs/STs and minorities.
  • A Concept note for a policy framework for Public Private Partnership in school education
  • ICT in secondary schools and in open/distance schooling
  • Evolving a National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for Teacher Education in accordance with National Curriculum Framework, 2005
  • Introducing a system for replacement of marks by grades at the secondary stage in schools affiliated to CBSE.
  • Awareness generation and intensification of efforts in the area of Madarsa/Maktab modernisation and skill development for Muslim children
  • Examination reform – There will be no class X board examination
    w.e.f 2011.
  • Law to prevent, prohibit and punish educational malpractices (under progress)
  • Establishment of a National Education Finance Corporation
  • Establishment of a national database of academic qualifications
  • Establishment of 14 Innovation Universities aiming at world class standards
  • Setting up 10 new National Institutes of Technology (NITs)
  • Regional Centre of the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU), Amarkantak to be started in the state of Manipur
  • Scheme of setting up of 374 Model degree colleges in districts having Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for higher education less than the National GER
  • Colleges/University departments to be provided with broadband internet connectivity under the “National Mission on Education through Information and Communication
  • Technology (ICT)”

You can view all of them in Annual report of the ministry at http://education.nic.in/

But the main thing I liked about Mr. Sibal’s approach is the openness to ideas, inclusiveness of everyone in the system and the willingness to integrate Indian education with the global standards. He was mentioning about increasing the supply by encoraging foreign universities to come to India through Private sector involvement.

There will be the cynics who will say that when majority of the population does not have access to even average schools what is the use of these measures. But we must realise at a higher education level most of our courses are not up to scratch. Also our education system tends to be very formula based dependent on text books, professors notes and previous years question papers. Also the focus has always been on quantity and not quality. There will be ten subjects to learn when all you need is two. The effect of this is yes we have produced students capable of great adherence but lack the research bent of mind and a creative mindset. Both types of people are needed for a country to succeed.

I believe cross cultural global exposure and an ability to imbibe what is good for us, after filtering out the unsuitable influences is the way forward. Again a lot of my friends feel that the Higher Education in the US should be experienced by everyone. What better opportunity than to bring those practices here. At the same time some of our age old practices like yoga, ayurveda, etc should also be given more encouragement at a studies level. My gut feel is that we are in good hands with Mr Sibal.

Digressing a bit – I can only say from personal experience and those of a few friends that , we were lost in the education system even though our grades were not bad. There have obviously been exceptions who have excelled beyond imagination , but I feel those would shine out anywhere irrespective of the circumstances. A good education system is one that excites an eager learner to pursue his passion and at the same times provides him with the tools to succeed.

For this we need to have at levels of education:

1. Motivated Teachers – This is critical. You can have all the facilities and yet fail if the teaching is bad. So “teaching the teachers” is the key. Also compensation and giving them importance in society is very important.

2. Facilities: Well we can go on abut this but every building should not be allowed to become a school or college. I studied in one of the better engineering colleges in Mumbai,  but it had no campus – just six floors

3. Parents awareness – I feel parents expectations is what confuses students most. I am not sure how this can be achieved but from a young age Parents should release their children unconditionally if they really wish them to be something.I have seen friends go through years of torture after joining engineering and these are not the notorious types but simple hardworking middle class students

4. An Abundance mentality: If we dont get 99% inn Higher Secondary most opportunities are gone forever. We live in a scarcity mentality. A degree offers you nothing. I have worked with people from the best institutions who are just as talented or as stupid as anybody else. Nothing more, Nothing less. We have many options if only we looked beyond degrees and jobs and looked at possibilities. Students should be encouraged in everything – to learn, to fail, to succeed and should not be be bound by time or choice.

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About Pramod Parmeshwaran

I love writing and expressing myself. I am a software entrepreneur by profession, a voracious reader by hobby and sports crazy by nature
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