Education should achieve three broad objectives. First, provide skills for professional growth. Second, provide life skills which include soft skills, maturity and emotional growth. Third, build a strong character for being a good human being and citizen. While it will be a mistake to say that India has completely failed to fulfil these objectives, a serious rethinking is required. The National curriculum framework, (NCF), the foundational document for elementary and secondary education forms the basis for national agencies like CBSE and NCERT to develop and administer school curricula. The recommendations in the NCF can at least, partially achieve the above three broad objectives that this article identifies. The government has further invited suggestions through the New Education Policy Group, but the existing volume of recommendations as well as the new one’s being sought, may still not deliver the reforms we need, primarily because of two sets of reason.
First, there are systemic problems in our education machinery. India does not have trained teachers, who can even understand, leave alone practice the methods being recommended by the various frameworks. According, to a world bank survey, the average pupil teacher ratio at the Primary level in India is ranging between 1:35 and 1:40 the highest amongst emerging economics and much higher when compared to the developed world. A high pupil teacher ratio impedes the imparting of soft skills and has an adverse impact on the emotional growth of children. Finally, the heavily regulated private sector is hampered by archaic laws that discourage and even prohibit innovation.
The second set of reasons concerns the abundance of alternatives, (all jugadu) which renders the formal system ineffective, if not completely useless. The most glaring example is that of on-job training. The formal system is so delinked from the industry requirement that practically every new entrant in the work force has to be first skilled by the employer. The National Employability Report 2014 found that only 18% of the engineering graduates are employable.
India’s educational system behaves like an industry of the colonial era. It neither recognizes the current needs of the students, nor provide the desired infrastructure. Our children are put into a machine. It takes 12 years for a finished product. After this, many choose to be on shop floor for another four years and become a certified product. Even fewer remain in production for another four to five years to become super special luxury products.
In this age of information, our education system is one of the things most reminiscent of the bygone industrial age. It was designed for a standardized work force to fill Govt. offices and factories. Today, for the most part, a computer can handle standardization tasks. What we need now is differentiation and innovation.
India needs extensive experiments in education. For example, we should re-think the necessity of children spending 12 years in school compartmentalized into different classes with a nationally fixed curriculum. We need to experiment to find which is the most desirable way to develop children. Why should two kids in class study the same level of Maths and History, when one of them is passionate about Maths and the other about History? Should they do so just because they are of the same age? The initial 12 years, when children are most capable of learning can be better spent in learning some other skills that will help them lead a happier and successful life. A similar re-thinking is needed for pedagogy and teacher-training laws and regulations and emotional and integral development.
In this process, policy makers should be facilitators and not implementors. They should improve the capacity of the failing public infrastructure, provide authority to the capable institutes and allow flexibility where the private sector is concerned. To conclude, in the current situation people achieve not because of the system, but despite the system. This has to change so that we can effectively use our human resources.
We are pleased to have the opportunity of looking after the physical fitness, mental growth, alertness, emotional sensitivity and spiritual awakening of your dear child. We assure you that, this temple of learning will do all in its might and means to instill in your child an urge for continuous quest for love,beauty,truth faith and justice in everyday life and capacity to discover his/her genuine needs and those of the social and natural environment. But it needs no mention that this noble aim cannot be achieved without each one's cooperation. Let us get going right from now onwards for the achievement of this noble aim.