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School Education in India needs an overhaul

By Dr Mukul Kapoor | PUBLISHED: 10, May 2018, 15:20 pm IST | UPDATED: 19, May 2018, 12:57 pm IST

School Education in India needs an overhaul Education is a process of facilitating learning, acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. A significant portion of training imparted in our country is wasteful. This bitter, harsh statement is a sad reflection of the unfortunate state of our country’s schooling. Our school system is archaic, with an ideology based on a legacy left behind by the British. The system thrives on loading students with information, most of which have no practical application. The present system partially meets the first two attributes of education, that is learning and knowledge acquisition, but does not attempt to teach the balance.

Our government is busy framing a new education policy, but alas the intellectuals involved in the exercise have not made public their views about the reforms planned. The school education system needs drastic changes. The apex body controlling school education in the country, the Central Board of Secondary Education, recently sought suggestions to make school education more meaningful. On the website, the program for uploading suggestions was, however, limited to a provision to suggest changes in the syllabus.

In India, we start formal education very early, in the pre-school itself. Students are burdened, with specific subjects, by the time they reach middle school. In secondary school, the syllabi are focused on details of topics, which they will never use unless they take that particular stream. This knowledge burden encourages disenchantment with education. Bright students manage the load, but the mediocre ones start faltering. The higher level of education must begin only after secondary school and be just for students targeting professional courses or college education. Can we achieve anything from teaching students, in class 10 and below, higher level physics or chemistry?

We have an obsession that all students must have a graduate degree at least. Do we need graduation as a qualification to be a guard or a peon? Most people in subordinate posts in our country are graduates and some even post-graduates. Do we need that education for performing clerical/non-clerical duties? If we evaluate the qualification requirements for ordinary vocations and the educational qualifications to meet them, we will realise that most people are educationally overqualified for their profession. But do they fit the qualification requirement?

The fundamental aim of moving from the 11-year higher secondary scheme to the 10+2 scheme was to impart wholesome primary education to all. Why have we not stuck to that aim? Why do we want every citizen to pass Higher Secondary? Do we need so many graduates? Not more than 10% of school pass-outs should require a college education. Just because we can’t offer adequate employment to all, why are we dragging the youth into this redundant education system?

We need responsible, educated citizens and not pseudo-educated countrymen. It is time to concentrate on improving school education and making it meaningful and productive. We should open more schools and equip them adequately to ensure standards. Stop schools from enrolling more than 20 students per section and ensure that each child gets educated in the real sense. Ensure that every secondary school pass-out is literate in the real sense and not just a degree/certificate holder. Stop opening centres for higher studies. More importantly, revise qualification and educational requirements for all jobs and make qualification requirements more realistic. 

#The writer is Director, Department of Anesthesia, Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi. Views expressed are his own.