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The need for educational reforms

Education is the light to remove the darkness of Irrationality. There’s a difference between education and literacy. A person who knows to read and write is called literate, but he may not be educated.

We proudly refer to ourselves as the educated youth of India (especially when comparing ourselves to the ones living in rural areas). But have you ever wondered what true education is?

Education is the candle which kindles the fire within you and reignites it into flames of ambition. Education is that mantra which stays with you forever and helps you in dealing with real-life situations. 

READ: Digital education amid corona: Was India ready?

A brief history of education

Gurukul

Have you heard of Gurukul? (No, not that coaching institute).

Gurukuls were a system of education in ancient India, where students left their homes and went to live with their teachers or gurus. The best part of it was that the students were taught practical life skills along with theoretical subjects. 

They were groomed, not only to become successful in their professional careers, but also to develop into better human beings, prepared to face the future challenges. 

This is what true education means, which is unfortunately, a lot different from today’s scenario.

Before we discuss the need of an educational reform, let us have a look at how present day education appears. 

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Education in the present

Classroom

When I say ‘education’, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Children sitting like statues, confined within four walls (and a roof, if they are lucky to have that infrastructure) with heavy bags lying next to them, mugging up textbooks?

Is this what education is? Education is meant to help shape the future, ensuring progress and development. 

There is no denial of the fact that every person is unique and has an innate potential within him/her. If we talk of India, there are many examples of people who studied from here and moved ahead in life to achieve heights of success.

Apj abdul kalam

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Amartya Sen, Dr. CV Raman, Sundar Pichai, Subra Suresh are only a few names of this never-ending list.

We all know about their achievements and contributions. Coming back to the present, this year 5 students from India qualified for admission into MIT. Such a piece of great news, isn’t it?

So does that mean we don’t need educational reform in India? Think about it.

MIT

In a country of around 1.3 billion people with around 37.4 million students, only 5 qualified for MIT? I agree that everyone doesn’t have the same capabilities and not everyone applies for it, but still in a country with such a large population, doesn’t this number give rise to concern?

The problem is not lack of knowledge, it’s the lack of systematic execution. 

Education, today, revolves around rote learning instead of problem solving. Somehow securing good marks in exams is what students aim for, these days, instead of satiating their thirst for knowledge. This chokes their curiosity and creativity, turning them into ‘educated puppets’. 

Inertia

Ask a student what Newton’s law of inertia is and he would give you a well articulated answer.

But you might find that same student falling down on the floor of a bus when it applies the brakes. Why?

Because his teacher taught him the law and he learnt it, without knowing where and how to apply it. This is the problem with the education being imparted  today. 

READ: Coding from 6th class: a great or adverse move?

Government initiatives 

I agree that the Government and the administration have made efforts to improve the condition and bring various educational reforms. But the problem is the mentality and rigid-old practices prevalent in society. 

Right to education

Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution guarantees free and compulsory education to children in the age group 6 to 14 years as a Fundamental Right. But the problem with us is that, we make laws but fail to implement them properly at the ground level.

All of us have seen kids doing odd jobs to earn a living, instead of going to schools. 

Even those who are ‘lucky enough’ to get a chance of receiving education, lack the basic facilities, be it proper infrastructure or systematic guidance from dedicated teachers. 

Apart from this, the syllabus which is taught now and the process followed has some flaws too, giving rise to the need for educational reforms. 

The recent National Education Policy is a bold initiative taken in this direction, allowing students to choose their desired combination of subjects based on their interests. If implemented properly, it is expected to bring a revolutionary change. 

What is the need of an educational reform? 

Education isn’t limited to memorizing facts. Albert Einstein has well said that “True education is what remains with you after you forget all that you learnt in school.”

What are the problems? 

  1. Rote learning 
Rote learning

The main issue is that education today focuses on rote learning instead of problem solving and concept development. 

Theoretical knowledge is given more importance than practical experience. Maybe if we focus more on practical applications, even the theory would become interesting and fun to learn, thus making it easier to retain and apply.

Also, this would prepare them for real life challenges. (Something similar to what the Bollywood movie ‘Hichki’ tried to convey). 

  1. Grade evaluation and Curbing creativity 
Grading system

Present education system curbs the creativity of a child. Think what would have happened if Rabindranath Tagore was forced to perform chemical analysis and Sachin Tendulkar was made to solve mathematics?

Just like a fish can’t fly and a bird can’t swim, everyone doesn’t have to be a scientist or a doctor or engineer (or any of those professions which parents consider as life changers).

We need musicians, players, entertainers as well. Education should focus on developing the innate potential of a child and exploring his creativity instead of forcing him into becoming a robot. 

Grades and exams put students under pressure due to which they aren’t able to perform efficiently.

Instead of a single exam deciding the future, evaluation can be done on the basis of daily participation in classroom and co-curricular activities and the child’s understanding of concepts and their applications. 

  1. Weightage of streams

This part needs no elaboration. We all are acquainted with how people react based on the stream we pursue. 

Pursuing artistic interests is considered inferior to the technical and scientific fields, which is obviously wrong. 

  1. Lack of technology and Generalisation
Digital education

There is no denial of the fact that technology rules this era, and affects our life tremendously. So kids need to be introduced to it at an early age through education so that they are taught to use it judiciously and also to make them updated with time.

Moreover, every student doesn’t learn at the same pace. Everyone has their own perceptions and hence deserves proper attention and a personalised way of being taught, unlike what we see in schools today. 

Conclusion 

We need an education system which makes humans humane, instead of producing machines. Inculcating morals and values within students, along with allowing their creativity to flourish and preparing them for the exam called life, is the need of the hour, and this calls for revolutionary educational reform. 

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