With a large population and a robust economy that is strengthened by a young, vibrant workforce and strong domestic consumption, India is a force to reckon with, ready to take the centre stage in the global economy.
Yet, there are things that need to be worked upon, chinks that need to be ironed out. In order to fully realize the true potential that this predisposition for strong economic growth provides us, we need to redefine education in India.
After seventy years of independence, we should have been able to revamp our education system. Some experts are highly critical of the education system brought in by the British, referred to as the Lord Macaulay system – as per them, it ensured that patriotism, creativity, harmony and ingenuity was forever killed for the purpose of churning out a submissive workforce for serving British colonial interests in India. On the other hand, some experts applaud the work done by the British, at least some of them, who had genuine interest in India and its people, and who made it their home.
Keeping a distance from both the extremes, we can still say that our education system has not kept pace with time. Putting undue stress on rote learning and learning too many things, our schools neglect the important aspects of holistic development, personality development, creativity and sports. The curriculum needs to be reworked with the future in mind – many careers and vocations will be created while many will be lost forever given how technology is revolutionising the world we live in.
In many institutions, there are no or negligible extra-curricular activities. Many schools don’t have proper sports facilities, not even a fair-sized playground. Academics are almost always top priority, and many a times, the only measure of performance that guide teachers and parents alike. No wonder, other aspects of development of students are neglected. We still celebrate academic successes with more fervour, with posters depicting toppers with near perfect scores. How often do you come across posters celebrating success in school cricket or contribution to social initiatives? How often do you find a school enumerating how many artistes, players, actors or social workers it has or is churning out?
While there have been changes in the quality of books and surely some improvement in the teaching methodology, we are still far behind in adopting technology for education. Despite understanding that automation and smart education is the way forward, we have millions of schools that have not yet adopted technology for education delivery and school management. This is really sad because not only such automation and digital thrust will improve the delivery of education, it will boost student performance, parent-teacher communication and revitalize the institution. It will improve profitability and appeal of the adopting institution. By enabling parents and teachers to collaborate more actively in monitoring and guiding students, it will improve educational outcomes. Learning management systems, visual learning aids and smart classrooms will improve understanding of concepts. Digital learning material will help in environmental conservation. The best part is that educators don’t need heavy investments or extensive efforts to go digital now; there are free and inexpensive software applications for school management available. Many school mobile apps are available for free download and can be implemented with little effort. Schools that have an eye on the future should consider opting for technology right away.
Another area that our educational system needs to focus upon is inclusiveness. We need to have an inclusive environment for students from different walks of life, from different communities and cultures, as well as for the differently abled. The differently abled can become proud citizens and significantly contribute to the society if provided with the right setup. Let’s not do lip service or show sympathy – let us empathize with our differently able population and yearn to provide inclusive and equal opportunities for them in all walks of life.
In the end, we need to remember the key role schools, teachers and other stakeholders of the education industry play in building the nation. By embracing change for good, and improving the education system, schools and education institutions can greatly empower the future citizens of India!