A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I had an interesting discussion. The topic was ‘relevance of education in India’. The discussion was so lively and useful that I decided to share it with you.
Though the fact remains that the child’s mind is almost conditioned by the age three, even before he steps into the school, there aren’t yet a great number of ‘ideal moms or dads’ who would help the child blossom the natural way. The onus is heavily on the schools that have to tackle a heterogeneous crowd. Policies and ideals drafted by the school managements are often lost or diluted by inefficient teachers. There are the other menaces like computer games, television, social networking sites that eat away the love for learning. Tuition centers for extra-coaching have mushroomed and have become inevitable necessities. The school lessons turn out to be burdens to the children and the weekends, oasis in their lives.
We tried to figure out the possible causes for this dark picture of the student’s life. We listed out several factors- the single child norm, nuclear families, working parents, economic independence, excessive exposure by the media, rapid urbanization, heavily invasive consumerism… The list turned out to be amazingly exhaustive.
The most important of our discussion was the recall of Lord Macaulay’s proposal to the British Parliament in 1835:
” I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
But we hastened to question if the academic front in India is totally a dismal picture. The statistics made us sit up. The number of school dropouts has come down satisfactorily in the urban areas while the enrollment has gone up in the rural India. We also found more reasons to be happy: More schools have come up with a ‘liberated’ curriculum. Such schools focus on knowledge while the conservative ones continue to churn mark-minting lots where students ‘ harvest ‘ marks and grades, after periodical training. And the English language has spread its wings powerfully on the urban India.
….. Which lead us to the question of ’employability’. The state rank holders and university gold medalists are soon lost in the obscurity when they fail to meet the corporate challenges with original ideas, strategy and solutions.
All said and done, we concluded that India certainly holds a place of pride as Indian brains are amongst the most sought-after, globally. The US President himself sees the tremendous potential and hard work of the Indian student community as a threat and that made him call for stringent efforts by the school students in the US.
My friend and I, we concluded that whether it is the case of India or any other country, a child could acquire knowledge effectively if he is given the right environment: hands-on experience, field trips and group activities would certainly make learning fun, practical and relevant to life.
Students of today are the architects of tomorrow- Agreed, absolutely!
The author Radha hails from Chennai, is a mother of 2 and regularly contributes to Parwarish through her articles.