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Indian Education System – An Introspection
|by P. Mohan Chandran|
Education is character. There’s an adage: “Tell me the books you read and I will tell your character.” However, education is not just about reading books or garnering knowledge. Books are a means to education, and education is a means to knowledge, neither implying an end in itself. Education is the pragmatic application of knowledge for the betterment of people, society, and self.
The dropout rates in India, at the high school level are also on the rise (~50%) in spite of increased educational expenditures by the states. Moreover, the infrastructure facilities in schools are pathetic. According to the latest statistics available from the Flash Statistics and Analytical Reports on Elementary Education in India, published by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration in 2009-10, there are only three classrooms per primary school in India, on an average, and only three teachers per school. About 14% of the schools have only one classroom each, and single-teacher schools constitute a similar proportion. While the standard national pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools is 1:40 (one teacher for every 40 students), 30% of the schools have a ratio above this. In Bihar, while the standard ratio at the State level is 1:59, there are 92 (1:92) students on an average per classroom. All this indicates a poorly organized system of education.
Need of the Hour
The implication of all the above arguments is that a pupil-teacher ratio of around 20 (1:20) may be taken up as a desirable ratio. We need good quality teachers in sufficient numbers. This is a basic prerequisite for quality primary education.
The True Role of Education: An Introspection
The human being is a social animal whose needs and urges are originated and fulfilled within a given society and rarely in isolation. While the primary objective of any education is to enable us to know things we did not know earlier, so as to improve the quality of life, this principle had not been appreciated in depth by our educational policy makers for decades. Artificial barriers in the nature of knowledge were created. It was specified that knowledge could either be for its own sake or for the sake of its application. However, on reflection, it becomes clear that unless any form of knowledge is applied, it cannot be improved or suitably channeled. A large proportion of people need knowledge that is of an applied character and that helps them simplify important activities of daily living. Moreover, each person is gifted with a particular range of skills. These two facts indicate that a continued thrust on a rigid academic structure would not be desirable. One must understand that provision of choices – over academic subjects or electives – is a continuous process. The system would work better if students were given an opportunity to exercise choice earlier in their education – rather than later – when several factors, other than their inherent competencies, exert an influence over their choice of subjects.
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