- Politics and Social Issues»
- India & South Asia Political & Social Issues
The Futilities of India: Education
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~Albert Einstein
India is said to be a land of greatness. Many great epithets manifest the glory of India and Indians themselves boast their land being wonderful and awe-inspiring. This subcontinent has a prosperous cultural background, ‘Unity in diversity’, national fraternity, plenty of natural and architectural wonders, democracy and a lot more diadems of honor. However, some things in this 'great-land' are so loathsome that I, in spite of being an Indian, cannot help but complain about.
Nevertheless, the fact is: India is a heaven; Indians make it worthless. Many examples are there to prove this and one monumental option is Indian education. Education forms the backbone of a society and mishaps there constitute deformations of devastating magnitude. Let me stroll back all my years as a student and recall the results of the nation’s absurdity in a common student's life.
What is education?
Let me first try to explain the term 'education' as it appears to me.
Education is the process by which you learn the world. For instance, before you go to school, all of your world consists of your family. Your mum, your dad, your brother, your pet; all yours. You go to school and it shows you the extent of the world. Education makes you realize that all of your comfort does not come from nowhere but the hard work of someone- your parents; that creatures like you do not prevail only in your small course from home to school but pervade a far larger space- across great bodies of oceans in foreign lands (and there are foreign lands!); and above all, that one day you should become a 'someone' and many would be dependent on you then. You understand you would need a living.
Education should give you knowledge. Knowledge about the world, morals, people, success and ultimately, you. Besides feeding you up with knowledge, it should help you know about your ability to process that knowledge -something that differs among individuals and thus differentiates an individual- Intelligence. Guiding your intelligence toward a specific goal is also consisted in education.
A prime fact is that education is not something to be shrunk within the books. It is 'Learning'. Human brain works in perpetuity. It is always active for you to learn and be intelligent in anything you want. You learn music and you are educated. You learn kung-fu and you are educated. Occupation is a by-product of education, not it's goal. You raise a living with the help of the skills you learned, but you did not learn the skills for the sole purpose of getting to a work. If you think so, what you had was not an education. It was an investment. Investing is not learning and vice versa.
Above all of these, education is something that should make you think all by your own. This goes without saying about not letting you to believe everything as said by everyone and look for the extent of truth in it. You do not learn to recite the things told to you to others. Education is not propaganda. It is assessment.
What I mentioned above as various aspects of education are indeed what are being told and published all over India. Yet, pathetically, it is not what is followed. Not even by the people that promulgate so.
In my country, the entire childhood and adolescence of a common man's life should be devoted to one and one thing alone. The grueling 'Rote learning'. The unwritten rule to make it to your college from your kindergarten is as follows: You need to study, but you had rather memorize; You need to recall, but you had rather reproduce. The area of a square of side (a+b) will be equal to the sum of areas of squares with sides a and b and twice the area of a rectangle a times long and b times wide. But you are a fool to put it like that. It is (a+b)2=a2+b2+2ab. The relevance between the formula and the statement above- the physical reality that led to the formula- need not be made. Just memorize the formula.
Rote education has been made such an intact phenomenon in Indian schools that students do not find any difference between a language and a subject. Students have English in their curriculum. They have Mathematics too. But for them, English is no different from Mathematics. They learn Mathematics by memorizing vital formulae. Analogically, English is taught with some unique techniques. For instance, presence of certain keywords decide the tense in a sentence for an Indian kid. English seems no different from a subject here. The prose in the oratory of Antony has to be memorized and written; it's not about what is in that oratory or its significance.
Learning is not a fun here. You pay to school, and you still work - like you work for an employer. You are made oblivious to the concepts in the books those lie beneath the words, waiting for you to decode them and expand your knowledge. Instead, you are shown the short-cuts to the pointed segregated paragraphs in your books those should be memorized because they had been asked frequently in most of the previous examinations. The reason is simple. Your grades promote you to next level and not your knowledge. In addition, ironically, knowledge is not mandatory to raise your grades here.
The prime motive of all of your studies is only one thing. The nature of the people, their status, their bringing up and their very life may vary a lot, but underneath they all strive toward that common intention and education here preaches the same as if it were a testament. You study and you earn. You don't, you are filth. It is not uncommon of a kid to hear his father saying, 'Toil for now, you will prosper in the future'. 'Prosper in the future' has only one meaning in every of those fathers' dictionary. It stands for 'earn more currency'.
Income. It is what learning is all about. Indians will do things you might not even dare to imagine for that. They would sit up all night and cram every word in any book you give them in to their minds, provided that will bring them 'prestigious' marks in the exam. They would blindly follow the rules as laid out by their teachers in something as simple as a mathematical problem without giving any rooms for their own ideas to interrupt. If the teacher points a cat and says it is a monkey, they would not deny that unless the cat being a monkey brings down their examination scores. They would even jump into a well if that is what their teacher demands for rising their grades! And if you think that happens in kindergarten alone, think again. Because if you can call everyone from a kindergarten kid to a mature college teenager as a student, then what I told above was the condition of a student.
To say it short, not everything is education here. You sit up and study - bring every word in the book to your fingertip and disgorge it flawlessly in your exam paper. Done, you are a scholar.
Education Vs Indian Education
As far as I see, in almost everything these two entities contradict. Starting from the very core, they are different. Education aims for knowledge. In India, it aims for marks. When you need not gain knowledge to fetch marks, a deep rift comes in.
Academics is the only thing you need to master in India. Everything else is a waste of time. You are good at music, or sports, or arts, the comments you often hear are: All of these are of no use. Study well, first; or, You be good at all this, but don't forget to take good care in your academics; or, Is this going to feed you in your life? Here it is different from another vital aspect of education that, by learning you are not confined within the bounds of books alone.
Next, here education is not assessment. It is obedience. You can think as independently as you can within the confines of the ideas those lay untouched by your elders. But what your older generation endorses should be followed without any questions asked. That is what a student is preached in India. Even after a student becomes a determinant adult, he should not turn his back on what other adults say. If he does, it is atrocity. Whereas, the common knowledge stays like that if you are a literate you need to think things and assess them on your own about them being right or wrong, legal or illegal, rational or foolhardy. That is education.
A fascinating thing about education is its ability to point to you your own intelligence. But, in India, this particular thing could not be seen at all. Personally, I think your intelligence is unveiled when you get stuck with a single sentence, or a mathematical problem, not having a faintest clue as to what it is, but squeezing your brain to process the facts you already have in it to comprehend the former- thus, decoding the meaning of the sentence, or solving the problem. The thrill at that particular rendezvous of you with that painstakingly found solution proclaims that it was your own handiwork; Your intelligence. In India, such a delightful moment is not often seen in students. Because, here, solution guides are readily available for students' purpose. Why should students' be troubled with all that thinking stuff? All they have to do is buy a guide, see the way the solution is attained, and reproduce it in the exam. Education is reproduction!!
Is Indian Education really a futility?
So why should I complain about all this? Is it really a defect for the country as a whole that an insignificant student in an inconspicuous corner of India crams things up in his mind rather than interpreting them analytically? After all, students are coming up with flying colors every year. Professionals flood out of institutions to such an extent that they flow over across the globe. Do I mean to say the base of all this is a futility?
On the surface, yes, you are into no problem. You earn your living. And gradually, you raise your standard of living with increments in your pay. But the truth is you are living an illusion. You do not bother to look what you really are, what latent abilities you house, how content your life would be if you turned your beloved hobby into a living. You are made a money-earning machine, trapped in the typical Indian definition of life-you are born, you study, you earn, you marry, you inherit and you simply die.
Education in India is the prime factor that made Indians followers rather than leaders. Not often do you come across stuff, or equipment, or idea, that is pioneered by a modern Indian. You are preached in schools and colleges, to study the principles and novelties as invented by someone across the globe; not someone from India. Your education misleads you to an extent where you find comfort in exploiting those novelties rather than thinking about building something worthwhile or at least, improving an existing stuff. Learning in Indian schools induce the belief in students that they study much for themselves and less, if not never, for the country.
Arts, Science and Literature lay untouched by most of the Indian students. If, however, touched, it is done ever so slightly to the point of using them as an elevator for management or some other highly placed courses. Singers, writers, dancers and sportsman occur only in smattering numbers across the country for the interests of the best lie in being engineers, doctors and other money making professionals. Exploration of talents has faded. Indirectly, every embarrassment of India in an international arena, from its inefficiency in bagging metals in Olympics to rare indian hands on Nobel prizes, is borne out of the futile system of education conceived here.
Bridging the gap
Against all these, at present, however, we see some good things happening around in 'mainstream' India. Analytical learning is gaining praise and is preached in Central Board schools, albeit in far corners of India rote learning goes on perpetually.
Exams differ in various levels of education. The best measure is that being exercised in competitive examinations. Objective questions format, which do not require bragging to disguise excellence, has its essence in picking up the best. Exams should not necessitate on student's ability to fill the papers as much as possible within the stipulated time. They should serve their purpose of testing genuine knowledge. For instance, let us consider a student of mathematics. An ideal exam for him would be something not more than just 2 questions. However, the questions should not have been dealt with by him in the past though they involve the principles and formulae he had learned in the past. Such an exam would force the student not only to study the basics but also to stretch his brain to its limits to come up with a solution all by himself. Likewise, no matter which field you are in, an examination should be a gauge to measure your skill in that field by providing you with an innovative problem that requires more than digesting the text book.
In my view, such a system is the best way of learning. It serves another purpose. In the above case, a student who has no flair in mathematical thinking would do no justice to such an examination. If such a system prevails, the student who could not crack the exam purely on the above basis should drop the subject and pursue the one where an intelligence unique to him would be called into play. A bad mathematician might make a good linguist. Or a good sportman. But ironically for all that, India should become a country where all talents are recognized and equally rewarded.
I have little doubt as to whether my claim is legitimate. Besides, if you give the importance as given to studies in India to everything else useful- because not only the studies result in money- you may not see any offense in the examination as proposed above by me. In addition, India would find its development not only by the proliferation of students with high marks, but also with improvements in miscellaneous fields. I suggest all my compatriots to come up with even better revolutionary ideas those might help this disastrous educational system in India straighten its awful course.
As a final note, I have to say here that this post has grown this tiresomely long is more out of a student's mourn than out of my thirst for writing.