Vijaya Ravi -An educator in Knowledge Industry for the past two and half decades, involved in moulding and shaping children in school.She has been involved with all types of children, from the Commencement stage to the Finishing School stage. She has carried out various responsibilities in my career.
Her passion for serving the student community has become stronger over the years. With affirmation, she states that she is a self-made person. She has adapted to the modern ways of teaching and advocate use of technology in learning, without by-passing the human power.
She says,"Well, the journey is underway. I have miles to go before I hang my cloak."
The subject of education in India is a burning one, contentious but one that merits serious thinking. Since several millennia, education in India carved a niche for itself among nations and civilizations contemporary, warranting scholars from overseas, stretching from Europe to China, from the Occident to the Orient, come, stay, learn and go back with loads of knowledge and wisdom. It has been Education that was given the top most priority among other pursuits, becoming the guiding force behind regime and rule, domestic living, trade and commerce, and so on and so forth. The educated were truly the venerated lot, with the rest of society and community becoming subservient.
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However, with the passage of time, the gleam and the luster that characterized education in India has degenerated and decayed; today the Indian education is a pale shade of its former might and sparkle, necessitating the powers that be to sit up, take notice and become proactive in stemming the rot that has engulfed it.
What ails the Indian Education? What has crippled it? How can it be rejuvenated?
Well, these are questions that cannot be answered in a matter-of-fact manner. Profound introspection and deep probe is called for, honestly and dispassionately.
Education in India experienced a shift in paradigm as a result of the Colonial Rule. The Macaulay System was largely prevalent. It was aimed in producing a class of people adept in the three “R”s, fit and qualified to serve the British masters, the services becoming elitist in nature. The traditional Indian system of education did prevail, attending to the educational requirements of the seeker in a holistic manner, in an ethos that was inherited from her rich legacy. But the insistence was on pursuing education on the lines laid down by Lord Macaulay. Academic standing displaced that shaped by all round development, with securing good marks and grades becoming the sole aim of a student.
With the country gaining independence, the Colonial hangover was there in India’s education system. Academic merit was the watchword. Focus was on the student passing the examination with flying colours, which would enable students get good jobs, secure and highly paying ones, assuredly. India’s economy then was different from what it is presently. Monopoly ruled the roost; there were no challengers or competitors to cause worry and anxiety. Complacency became the natural fallout. There was no urge to learn more, to hone and chisel the latent skills, to aspire to have the cutting edge, as it were, in order to be a cut above the rest. Students were contented to maintain the status quo.
However, for the past three decades, ever since the ushering of economic reforms 2.0, things have changed significantly in India’s educational landscape. With access to education provided by foreign universities becoming possible, citadels of education came to be set up, in the form of colleges and institutions having facilities and ambience that were the state of the art. Aided and driven by technology, these centers of learning vied with one another to attract bright and diligent students who would lend luster to their alumni. Education became possible to be pursued amidst idyllic and sylvan settings, far from “the madding crowd”, the hustle and bustle of a city/town. These places of learning became brands in every sense of the term, boasting of facilities and the faculty likewise. Predictably, costs of education registered a steep hike, with parents and guardians feeling their pinch gradually. Hence getting good employment post the education pursued turned out as a logical and a natural expectation, both of students concerned and their benefactors, with a recompense for costs incurred and the servicing of debts and obligations arising there from, becoming uppermost.
Could such an eventuality come to pass, fair and square?
Although colleges did meet their obligations in providing their alumni with “suitable” jobs after their graduation, many of them being respectable and plushy ones, in reputed companies, institutions and organizations, both national and foreign ones, the whole deal was short-lived. Recessionary trends felt in India, as well as abroad, resulted in many of these incumbents/candidates becoming victims of layoffs, downsizings, retrenchments and restructurings. Up-skilling has since become desirable along with bona fide qualifications, with those who are multi-skilled having the cake.
Employability has become the critical component of the bread-winning education. Becoming a graduate is necessary a condition for employment but it is not a sufficient one. Rather than loading students with irrelevant stuff, it is worthy if they are given vocation based learning, commensurate with their flair and aptitude, and which would be in good stead in their future endeavours. Further, critical thinking is a dire must, instead of learning by rote. Application of learning ought to be the outcome. Instead of producing book worms, colleges and institutions need to generate thinkers, who dare to swim against the tide.
India has finally woken from her slumber and is on the way to reform her education system, starting from the school stage. Yes, technology needs to support classroom teaching and learning. Yet, total dependence on it, without using the human prowess and skills, is undesirable. It is not for nothing that every human being is blessed with skills and talents, which need to be optimally and properly used for his or her growth and development. Digital Learning is given the thrust. But it has its own limitations. Learn by Fun is commendable as an approach provided the seriousness of purpose is not sacrificed and learning does not turn out to be all that funny! Letter matters to an extent but it is the spirit which finally counts, as far as learning is concerned. Text book learning is just the tip of the iceberg. What is paramount is awareness of events, happenings, inventions and discoveries, becoming duly updated of them. Students must be capable of putting their thinking caps on, when required. They must be able to think out of the box, if necessitated.
The turnaround in India’s education system has commenced. Educationists, the intelligentsia, thinkers and reformers are up in arms to help the government give a final shape to the National Education Policy, which is in its elemental state. India’s education is in need of a revamp. Serious thought is given towards this. Hopefully, a new India will emerge. Her prime position will be restored. India will become the destination of seekers of education the world over, in a not-too-distant a future.
Till then, we, the educators, shapers, moulders, mentors, and what not, need to roll up our sleeves and discharge our responsibilities, with utmost faith, conviction, self-belief and indomitable spirit.
Deep in our hearts, we do believe, we shall overcome some day (very soon)! Jai Hind!