Education – Equality and Excellence
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‘Education’ – An instant indication that we ‘belong to the civilized part of the world’!India is touted to become the next superpower by the year 2025. The reason behind it is the large and growing number of youngsters in the age group of 18 – 35 (around 60%). And to derive the fullest benefit of this precious human resource, education is absolutely crucial.
If we truly aim to achieve super power status by 2025, then we have only 15 years left, in which we must maximize our potential to take that giant leap forward. Sadly, the steps our country has taken with regard to education, is almost ‘Nil’. If anything can be done to improve this situation, it has to be done over the next 5 years.
What we need is not merely excellence in quality of education. Education must be available equally to every single person in the country. And by ‘Education’, I mean knowledge that goes beyond the almost fake horizons of ‘academic’ syllabus.
Current state – Money, Education and people:
It is common knowledge that our country is a developing one. Around 30% of the people live below poverty line. A person is said to live below BPL when he/she earns below 538.60 rupees/month in urban and 356.35 rupees/month in rural areas. By this 27.5% of Indians live in poverty. And if World bank’s criteria of 1.25$/day is taken into account, 42% of our people live in poverty. (Source: Wikipedia).
Can you imagine having to live your life, with earning less than 20 rupees/day???
For people like these, ‘surviving’ in this country is itself a huge challenge. ‘Parents’ who live in poverty may never ever send their children to schools. Their only other option is to send them to work to make both ends meet!! Also, even if such parents take the effort to send their children to Government schools, can they be assured of receiving the same quality of education in a more expensive private school?
In India, everything has become a business since globalization. Education has also become a product. It’s a costly affair. Now to admit a kid in a good school parents have to spend more than 20K/year. I personally know children who are studying in 2nd and 4th standards respectively, in the best private sector school in their locality. Guess the amount of fees being shelled out by the parents per child? Not less than Rupees 40K/year PER CHILD. This does not include extra-curricular activities!
With the spending capacity of a parent, quality also changes. With the change in cost, facilities can change but not the education. This is a deplorable situation.
- A kid of parents who are capable and willing to spend 10K – 50K per child per year, normally goes to a school with excellent infrastructure (spacious classrooms, wider area with natural surroundings, etc.) , receives good quality education and also enjoys a host of extracurricular activities and fun.
- So if a parent able to spend 1K – 10K, their child normally goes to a school which has limited space consisting only concretes, often loves to teach aggressively rather than patiently or creatively, aims mostly at ‘marks’, and thrive on the hallucination among the parents that the no. of state rank holders in a school shows how good they are.
- For a parent who can’t spend or spend less than 1000 rupees, corporation and government schools are available. Very often, such schools also do have good teachers and average infrastructure, unfortunately, they do not take much responsibility or interest, in the child’s education.
Therefore, education in our country is more a byproduct of the parent’s earning capacity, and less a ‘basic right’!
So if parents make the ‘mistake of not being rich’, children are automatically denied good quality education.
But let us give credit where it is due. Our Government is indeed providing free education. Free meals too, in fact. And to be quite honest, many of poor families send their children to school in the hope that they will get atleast that one free meal a day, rather than starve on the roads!
However, it is important that we do not compromise on the QUALITY of education and easy ACCESSIBILITY.
‘Standardized’ Education – Why?
There are many students who are forced to travel around the country to accommodate their parent’s career.
After studying in different levels till 9th grade they have to take public examination on the common platform where some students maybe at the disadvantage.
Generally there is a perception that CBSE is the best education. So students who are studying under other boards sometimes feel inferior to them.
There is a different syllabus for each kind of board. For example, in my state Tamilnadu, there is separate syllabus for state board, matriculation, CBSE, Anglo-Indian, etc…
This is more of a business trick to fool and lure the parents towards certain schools, rather than based on some strong ideology of ‘good quality’ of education. I fail to see a distinct need for different kinds of syllabus for children who are begin their education between the age of 3 and 5!!!
Everyone is equal and must be given an equal chance. There can be a difference in the language it is taught and the language in which the text books are written, but certainly not in the subjects they learn.
Is academic excellence enough?
Our education system has always given importance to ‘mugging up’ and ‘parroting’ in an exam to evaluate a students’ knowledge. What happens if a student who understood the subject is unable to reproduce it in exam paper? She/he FAILS. Children are vulnerable to failures. It is not just children, in fact. Even parents are greatly affected by ‘failure’ of children. This kind of early failures will reduce their confidence, make them distracted and if the kid hails from a poor family, parents may force him/her to go to work. Illiteracy is the main reason why we are still in developing state. So we shouldn’t give any chance for a child to quit the school for any reason.
There are students good in art, or at analytical skills. Some excel in sports. An unusual high importance given to ‘academics’ has robbed children of other equally important life skills and also some wonderful career in their interested field. There is not much of a career for children who are choosing fields other than engineering, medicine, commerce and science subjects in our country. With larger number of people studying in the above fields are there are enough opportunities created for them in future? Again the answer is no.
What can be done to get over this?
- Government must ensure that the quality of the schools to be equal (at least in terms of education provided if not in facilities and infrastructure) throughout the state and country. If they can’t control the schools run by private institutions then they can take over it and run by themselves. This way a child does not have to travel more than 10 kilometers a day to reach a particular government school, as there will be such schools within 5 kilometers of every home.
- Government should form a committee consisting of individuals who are really passionate about education and NGOs to monitor the fee structure and the quality of education in all the schools.
- Government should implement a common syllabus for the subjects Mathematics, Science, civil science and English throughout the nation. (Tamilnadu has taken step towards this and equal education has been implemented throughout the state from this year).
- Students must be encouraged to take up different activities other than ‘academics’, thereby making them ‘all-rounders’.
- For the above to happen, the evaluation system must get a revamp with certain percentage of marks awarded for the skills other than ‘reproducing text’. This will surely reduce the so-called ‘failures’ because EVERY individual possesses SOME special talent.
It is not possible to implement all the above ideas right away. But it can surely be done in a phased manner. This will give us wonderful citizens who can think independently, and make our nation proud.