As said by Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
This has been understood by nations all over the world. People in ancient times used to travel from one nation to another to gain knowledge. India was among one of those destinations and India’s ancient education system is still hailed and appreciated for that.
A tremendous change in the education system occurred when Britishers arrived in India. They judged everything with their yardsticks and denounced the Indian education system. They introduced English and classroom centric education by replacing traditional forms of education which used to take place in Gurukuls, Temples, and Madrasas.
After Independence, significant efforts have been put forth by the government to improve the quality of education in India. Let us look at various steps taken by the government for empowering people with their education policies.
· Currently, School level education has been divided into primary, secondary and tertiary. The higher level of education is divided into general professional and vocational courses. There has been a tremendous rise in literacy rate and establishment of the school, college, and universities.
· To provide equal access to education to everyone reservations are provided to the economically weak sections of society. Government schools were and are set for providing free education to poor up to the age of 14 and the mid-day meal scheme was floated a few years back to provide free meals.
· According to Article 45, children from age of 6 to 14 have a right to free education.
· The Government has meditated, created regulatory bodies such as NCERT( The National Council for Educational Research) , CBSE(Central Board Of Secondary Education) for regulating &maintaining standards of school education. For higher education bodies like UGC (University Grant Commission) and AICTE ( All India Council for Technical Education ) are entrusted by the government. Policies like NEP(National Education Policy) to promote education in rural and urban sectors was established in 1968 and is still working for refinement of the quality of education.
· Distant open learning and Massive open learning courses like SWAYAM are also promoted widely.
· State governments look into the quality of education in their states, frame curriculum, and syllabus, grant funds and hold examinations. They can be suggested & granted aid by the central government but whether to accept it or not is their call.
· Schemes are continuously floated for improvement of quality of education, For Instance, IIC(Institution Innovation Scheme) by Ministry of Home Affairs for increasing innovation in higher education, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna launched under Ministry of Skill Development and Internship for skill development of youth and many more.
· NITI Aayog (National Institute for Transforming India), the policy think tank of the government, set up in 2015 helps the government to float schemes regarding various sectors, education being of them, they conduct regular surveys, present reports suggesting improvements and formulation of policies.
Hence a lot of attention is being given to maintain the quality of education in India but some loopholes don’t allow the growth of this sector to the level required.
So the Curriculum and syllabus need to be revamped as soon as possible. Instead of rote learning and running behind marks, students should get training to engage their minds in learning multiple skills. Although a lot of schemes have been launched to promote skills they couldn’t be implemented without appropriate infrastructure. For Instance, half of the government schools don’t even have basic amenities like toilets & well-equipped classrooms. Not even some private schools can afford to offer smart classrooms to the children. Those who have the resources also promote rote learning to get more marks.
There has been a lot of emphasis on improving overall personality of children but in reality, there is no proper training or encouragement of children to do that. Sports periods are just there on the time table and there is no proper infrastructure for games. Moreover, in higher classes, there is no place for any activity left in the timetable. Children are expected to be book worms and all the ideas of holistic development are thrown out of the window.
The teacher-child ratio in schools is way above the suggested one because there might be a plethora of schools but schools with the required facility, good faculty are only a few. This leaves teachers with only option to stick to the syllabus and leaves children bereft of skill learning.
Similarly, in higher education, the race of rote learning only provides children with a degree but they don’t get jobs or get a low salary whereas they deserve much more with that qualification.
National Educational Policy 2019 talks about giving colleges more autonomy to take decisions and more skill-based courses but what they are not talking about is the lack of training of professors or teachers for that, before applying any policies teachers should be given apt training. Besides, without changing the syllabus and curriculum at a higher level too, we can’t think of any real improvement. We should look at universities like JNU and Ambedkar, they are following a model of skill-based education. They give admission to fewer students, grill them regularly where children have to do regular presentations and seminars which they organize under the supervision of the teachers. These things make children ready to face the world confidently along with degrees.
As a result of these shortcomings, India’s youth has started finding opportunities in other countries where their skill can blossom and their labour can be valued.
There is a dire need for improvement. The Policymakers need to look back at the ancient Indian education system and need to incorporate their ways of imparting practical knowledge in present times.
Besides, We can look at Kerela ‘s literacy rate and their approach to education as a model that can be applied all over the country for the betterment of the children and increment of the standard of education. The Schools in Kerela are efficiently using smart technology to gauge children’s interest in the subject and to enhance their skills. The children are taken for regular field trips to understand things practically. The Classrooms are designed according to the age of the children, for instance, Nursery classes are painted with vibrant colors and pictures to make classroom learning experience fun and knowledgeable.
Hence, even though the Indian education system has progressed a lot over the previous years, still there is a need to dismantle the old method and curriculums. We need to learn from institutes who have brought a change with changing times. There is a need to establish schools and colleges with good faculty & infrastructure even in the remotest areas so that everyone can have access to quality education and like the ancient times, India could be the center of spreading knowledge to the world.
Thus it has been rightly said by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam,” The present education system has to be designed in a way that produces a large number of employment generators and not just employment seekers.”