Indian education

8 05 2013

As Indians, we all know the pros and cons of Indian education. We are especially aware of the “non-learning” that happens in the name of the competitiveness and anxiety to score more or stand first in the race. We learn the basics the hard way – rigorous by-hearting and impositions (at least, I did). Usually, we learn the techniques rather than the subject. When it comes to higher education, we are painfully aware of the lack of real learning. (Well, this applies to most of the institutes. I was not, like many others, fortunate enough to get into the few premier institutes, where education and learning is supposed to be quite different and on a totally different level.) It is quite possible that we may not even be aware of what a real education is, unless we expereince it, which typically means a course or program from developed areas (like US, Europe etc.).

And we accept it, like we do a lot of things that happen in India.

I read an article in The Hindu’s Education Plus supplement this Monday by a foreign student who attended a reputed institute in India as part of a study abroad programme. It speaks about his immense disappointment from the whole experience. The author emphasizes that false nationalism, which is actually narcissism, is causing Indians not look at the issue. And he calls for action from the Indian students – strong one at that. I agree with him when he says, “in life you should not expect others to fight your battles for you”.

Here is the complete article: An Indian education?

Irrespective of whether it’s highlighted by a foreign national, the scenario is something we should be ashamed of. Indians are deemed intelligent over the world, but how much of it is shaped by our education system? We crave for foreign degrees – both for real learning and for the value, awe, and respect they command.

The need for action is of course undeniable. But does the years of complacency on part of the education system give way to radical change so easily? And whenever we talk about a system, lots of complications are involved. Nevertheless, change should happen one step at a time. A beginning should be made.

Speaking about the quality and passion of teachers, do we have our best people to teach us? By no means I imply that there are no great or even good teachers in India. However, from the general perspective and looking at the big picture, do the “best” people choose to teach?

R. Prasannan (an academic, an author and a columnist in The Week), in his latest article highlights the difference between the way the army and the police are trained. While the army sends its best men (who considers the duty as an honour and are highly regarded) to groom the junior members, the police force sends its worst men to train the constables into inspectors. He says that this explains the unpardonable and insensitive behavior of certain un-FIR constables and girl-slapping ACPs.

Well, the reason I am reminded of this is that I feel that it can be broadened to include other domains as well. Teachers shape the future generation and so the system has to make sure that the best people of a generation teach if it ever wants the future generation to be better. And this has to happen in a big way.

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