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Education & India: Part 2 of 2

by on April 2, 2012

Like I’ve said earlier (by that, I mean in Part 1), my life revolves around the state of education in India today, being a student. And I lead from where I left, in the first post, in this one.

1) Colleges: The basic requisite for a successful post-education life-in-the-real-world, as I’ve heard so far, begins from colleges. Schools are those parts of our lives, when we’re shaped and also protected during the process. But, in colleges, we have our first interaction with the real world. So, it wouldn’t be immature-ish of me to say, that ‘That’s where it all begins…’.

There’s not much to say, except that what I’m (by that I mean everyone in their respective colleges) taught is purely theoretical bullshit. Something that has been in the textbooks since ages. And, even if it has been ‘revised’ lately, I’m assured, when I open the first page, that all I’ll study, will be something that isn’t even present in real day life.

For example:

a) I know that Intel 8051 microprocessor is an entire semester worth of subject for a specific brach(es) of engineering. Something, many of us who had vocational subjects in Junior College (11th and 12th), have learnt for a whole year. Besides, it has been out of the whole tech-world for ages now, since it was the first microprocessor ever built. The ones in use now, are much more advanced.

b) I’m truly tired of performing titrations of acids, bases, and everything that can be neutralized. I’ve been, since 4 years. And yet, my chemistry syllabus, since 9th, has a considerable amount of the same very thing.

I’m a student of science and thus incapable of being able to prospect what other branches are like, but well, I know for one, that they’re not apt to the industrial standards of what a professional should know. They lack practical knowledge. They lack the need for understanding and emphasize on the answers to be rote-learnt and puked into the answer booklets. 8 pages of random scribbling, even if it’s the story-line of a Bollywood movie, might get you more marks than someone who actually knows the concepts well enough and explains the same, more precisely in 4. And the most of all, having the inclination towards daily technology that I have, I hate that we don’t have technology dwelling into our educational lives.

Tech is all over our professional lives. A CEO without a tablet, a BlackBerry, an iPhone, would be like a CEO without a suit. A mall without free wi-fi access, would receive brickbats from the goers. We have courier guys who ask us to sign on a touch-screen with a stylus, before receiving our deliveries.

But, we don’t have simple amenities like free wi-fi access, projectors, etc. in colleges. We don’t have the permission to take notes on our laptops, tablets or smartphones, or getting them mailed to us, instead of having to pen down every single thing.

Just two questions. Seriously? And how long more?

All of the fore-mentioned, may not be necessary upto school level of teaching, but, beyond that, I redeem it to be the need of a student.

Another thing that makes me pity myself for studying in India, is the quality of teachers we have.

2) Graduate & Post-Graduate institutions: The lack of infrastructure, for the all-round development, in such institutions, beyond what I mentioned above, is something that I hate the most. And most of the infra provided, is out-dated, aged. The same applies to events occurring within the college premises. (A request to anyone from any college’s faculty or management reading this, a student’s graduation years are those which he/she memoirs the most, make sure you give them something to remember. Be it festivals, shows, competitions, workshops, what not! Make sure they have a memory of a lifetime, everytime.)

They say, someone who can’t be anything else, becomes a teacher. That, seems like the truth. At least in the colleges I’ve been in, and the one I’m in right now. A guy (I’m poor at Indian mythology, I don’t remember the name, sorry) learns the art of archery when Dronacharya was teaching Arjun, by just observing. That’s the kind of teachers I want to learn from. Those whose lectures I would want to attend. Those whose lectures I wouldn’t want to go to sleep in, sitting on the last bench. Those, in whose lectures, I wouldn’t want to keep texting because I’m bored. Enough said.

Every college has a policy (at least those that I know of) to restrict teachers from taking external coaching, anywhere. And well, we all know what the truth is. Most college lectures, all through the country, are not conducted. Teachers get their salaries. And they earn further-more because of the minting machines that coaching classes are. In purview of better grades, parents making students machines which run on a typical home-college-classes-home schedule. I don’t even know what to say, anymore!

Professors’ involvement in research, and industrial funding for the same, is something I root for. It’s necessary for learning what textbooks don’t teach us, in every institution. That also adds a second income for the faculty involved, the college and adds to the students’ knowledge.

3) Reservation: I was hoping I wouldn’t have to talk about it. But, a post about education, without pulling the strings of this sensitive topic that reservation and quota systems in education systems are, is incomplete.

I’ve a dual-side opinion on quota system. I think that quota should be there. But, I also think that this reservation of education seats, should be fair, to those who aren’t in the reserved categories.

Discrimination on the basis of caste, and giving unfair advantage (read: reserved seats with lower cut-offs) seems unseemingly wrong to me. Most of them, don’t even need it. Reading in newspapers the cut-offs for SCs, STs, OBCs being less than half of those for the general category, just punches a hole through my heart.

That’s how unfair we are, that for political votebanks and the divide-and-rule tactics, we give up everything we’ve ever learnt.

All our life, we’ve been taught to treat everyone as equals. Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, among others, gave up their lives fighting for equality. ‘Right to Equality’ is one of the fundamental rights conferred upon us the by the respected Constitution of India. And even then, when it comes to admissions, we just forget all this and fight about equality.

We’re in the 65th year of independent India, and I think it’s high time that we eventually got rid of this indiscriminate advantage given to those who are supposedly of lower castes. May be they didn’t have the facilities like we, of the general category, do. But, things sure should’ve and would’ve changed now. Reduce this reservation by 3-5% every year, or every 2 year, and reduce it till it reaches a 5% mark. Let them face the competition too!

Instead, in my opinion, reservation for those from financially weaker classes, should be actually implemented. The same way, the reservation for women’s seats, seems acceptable to me, considering the number of women who actually attend schools and colleges in India.

Solutions, I propose:

1) Syllabi : The syllabi of every stream of education, needs some incredible amount of shaking and revision by a whole panel of industrial experts, including top-level exeutives CEOs, CTOs, CFOs. Sorting and preparing a list of what should be, from what is. And the guidelines from what these experts conclude, be sent to the Universities over the country, and then let them formulate their own syllabi.

2) Teaching Staff : A mammoth-sized re-arrangement in terms of the rules and who-ends-up-a-teacher is necessary.

3) Extra Credits – There are students who are great at sports, writing, art & craft, playing music, etc. Why are they not given a fair hand over those others who are only good at vomiting out what they’ve read in the textbooks? To be a human being, and to graduate from college, are 2 different aspects, and every institution in India, by the virtue and very nature of it, is responsible for both of them. Undeniably. Thus, the inclusion of this, is something I feel necessary.

Education should be the arsenal of a country. The smart minds it produces, should lead and be led. I’ve said enough, in 2 posts. But, now it’s time for action. And that’s only possible, if each one of you reading this, reaches out to your ‘contacts’ and convinces one person of the need for these reforms and the solutions proposed. Of course, only if you think they are fair.

Until the next post…

P. S.: I may appear biased, forgive me. Use your fair judgement for that part of the post.

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One Comment
  1. Dear Setu,

    I read through your post and wish to appreciate the effort that you always put in every post. It shows in your writing. Commendable!

    I have jotted (no, really) a couple of points in my notebook which I would like to share with you.

    (I) I totally second the “theme” (as I perceive it) of the two posts on “Education & India” – there is a definite and urgent need to “review” and “overhaul” (if need be) the overall education system in India, most importantly the ways and methods of imparting education.

    Concerning the above post:

    (II) The method of imparting education in the Indian Education System (IES, hereinafter) is primarily through class-room black-board (and otherwise) teaching with the help of textbooks on various subjects, the syllabi of which have been prepared after rigorous academic research, without doubt. I, respectfully, disagree with a couple of examples you have cited above – having an entire book on Intel’s 8051 Microprocessor as a part of curriculum might sound obsolete, but spare a thought for the would-be developers from an IT/Telecommunications engineering class. I can’t boast of having any kind of domain expertise here, but, I am sure knowing the history of the earliest microprocessors and understanding its evolution through the years is a prerequisite for anybody to try their hands at developing its contemporary.

    (III) I believe the IES is designed on the basic theme of imparting knowledge across subjects to pupils and providing them with space to make choices, to choose their subject(s) at various junctures of their academic lives, be it higher secondary, graduation, or master level programs. That is exactly where I think I find a glitch with your second example (on the Chemistry thing). We, at school, are taught various things across a span of say 10-12 years which essentially (should) leads us to a stage when we are in a position to make wise and informed decisions, make choices, and study subjects that interest us.

    (IV) The above two points are just thoughts that struck my mind as I read through your intriguing piece. Where I think you struck the right chord is the fact (which I am pretty sure you would have thought as well) that there still lies a big room for improvement in the IES, especially its design. Very pertinent would be to quote a dear friend Sauman Singh who once said, “why can’t I choose a subject from the commerce stream, say Accounting, and another from the science stream, say Applied Math, and yet another from the Humanities Stream, say Public Diplomacy and International Relations, all at the same time clubbed as one single curriculum?”. I don’t think the thought needs any elaboration. “Customization” is the word and that is one thing that the IES lacks and lacks royally.

    (V) Technology penetration into educational institutions is a must but the degree of penetration is debatable – one has to look at all the pros and cons and I don’t find myself competent enough to comment on it (for the time being, at least).

    That’s about it, I feel. If anything else comes up my mind, I will let you know. I always admire your writing because as I said, the honesty in writing and the intent shows in your posts. By the way, the disciple of Dronacharya {I hate Drona for he asked for his thumb as Guru-Dakshina) was named Ekalavya 🙂 }

    Please keep writing. Never let the “0 Comments” thing bother you because as you yourself have mentioned somewhere in your “About NJTT” section, “Hope is a good thing, in fact the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” 🙂

    All the best! (Ignore typos, for I have hurriedly typed all this)

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