The Class 10th and 12th board results were announced last month and the last date to fill in applications for colleges has almost come to a close. And then a list will be drawn like a lucky draw coupon mentioning who hit and who missed the top spot!
Education in India is a malfunctioning system. More like an assembly line in mass production which starts when the child is 6 years old and ends….well… nowhere close to what the kid aspires for during the entire journey. Education in India has become a travesty. Much of higher education is now a profit-making, money-minting and, mediocrity-stricken industry, while primary and secondary public education suffers from some serious debilitating inadequacies.
Last year, UNESCO conducted a study and confidently declared that India is half a century behind the other developed countries in the world.
The report says over 60 million children in India receive little or no formal education and the country has over 11.1 million out-of-school students in the lower secondary level, the highest in the world.
At the upper secondary level, 46.8 million are out of school, while 2.9 million students do not even attend primary school. The report says that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 40 million workers with tertiary education. – Source
This means the country will achieve universal primary education by 2050, universal lower secondary education in 2060 and universal upper secondary education in 2085.
Now there are 2 problems that I can spot here. One, we are apathetic to the huge challenges and struggling to address them comprehensively, two, how do we plan on achieving the sustainable development goals in education under these circumstances?
MDG (millennium development goals) Goal 2 mandated achievement of universal primary education only. The SDG 4 mandates inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. The targets under this goal cover learning outcomes, pre-primary education, secondary, tertiary and vocational education.
Sustainable Development Goal #4
Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
Problems in Education in India
• Low attendance and High dropout rate
According to Annual States of Education Report (ASER) survey, a household survey of schooling and learning levels in rural India that included over 560,000 children between 3 and 16 years, in 589 districts of India – 1.1% of children between the ages of 11 and 14 years never enrolled in school, and 3.5% were dropouts.
Children dropping out or not attending school at all, has its consequences – Slow economic development rate of the country as these children will grow up as unskilled and not sufficiently literate adults who are incapable of being productively employed in various industry sectors. Further this also contributes to social backwardness in many parts of the country.
English, for example, is a hurdle for many vernacular speaking students, to get to the next level in education. Pranil Naik, an Ashoka Fellow, has made English language, accessible, sustainable and affordable to students from BoP through his organisation – Leap for Word.
ThinkSharp’s Study Mall, a non-profit started by Santosh Phad in Mumbai, is creating a conducive environment for children in rural areas to study and gain access to resources through their libraries.
Apni Shala, on the other hand, believes in educating children through experiential learning model, to ensure holistic education in the real sense.
• Learning without Real Knowledge
In a recent chat Seetha Ananthasivan, Founder of Bhoomi College, rightly pointed out that, “Education is all about syllabus, textbooks and exams. There is no learning involved. This has turned into an industry, where students are the input and the output is zero”
This incidence turned out to be true when the Bihar examination scam was unearthed using a sting operation, where the alleged toppers could not answer even simple questions from their syllabi.
The mundane nature of education has led to increased brain drain. Although students venture to countries abroad for better education, back home things are slowly taking a turn in the right direction.
The Teach for India Foundation focuses on bridging the gap of educational inequity in India. What fuelled their work were some alarming statistics- Only 20% of children in Grade 3 being able to read text of Grade 2 and even by Grade 5, only 53% of children being able to read a Grade 2 text. They now run the prestigious Teach for India Fellowship Program, which recruits several young students and professionals to work in low-income schools at minimal stipends in various cities.
• Education-skill Gap
‘What you learn in college and school has hardly anything to do with what you work on, once you are employed’ While that maybe true, a question arises in my mind- Does this mean that mainstream education is unnecessary? This assumption has hampered the quality of learning and the value of knowledge. Practical, skill-based learning is necessary to improve the employability of graduates and quality of learning. According to a study, out of 1.5 Million engineers passing out of various colleges in India only 3% are suitable to be employed in software or product market and only 7% in core engineering roles.
Education is the foundation for wholesome socio-economic development of a nation. At a higher level it needs to transcend the certificate of a degree and focus on real-life and employment-oriented learning. At primary and secondary levels it needs to focus on offering universal access and ensuring holistic learning. It’s only then that we can achieve our SDGs.