By Sheetal Bhopal
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
‘Vishva Guru’…This was how ancient Bharat, that is, today’s modern India was known to the world. It was from here that the Vedas, Puranas, Unani, Ayurveda, Airthmetic, Astrology and the other sciences conceived and spread to the rest of the parts of the globe. It was here that the zero was invented. India is the land of world renowned scientists like Ramanuja and Aryabhatta. There was a time when India was the focal point of the world education, students from all over came to receive education in our revered institutions like the Nalanda University, Rajgiri and Vikramshila. What was it that attracted the aliens to our land? What was it that gave Indian education a universal recognition? Apparently, it was the intensive and the practical knowledge that this realm believed in and practiced. Over the time, we were influenced by the global scenario and hence started imbibing the western style of education. But somewhere along adopting the global trends we started adopting them wholly and had to part with our roots. If today we are ready to practice the practical approach that ancient Bharat tread on, merged with the ideals of the Western education, we are certainly bound to succeed.
Education. What does the word mean? Does it only refer to reading and writing skills? Does it only refer to attending school? Or for that matter does it refer to mugging up the textbook and vomiting it out on the paper? In my perception, education involves the holistic growth of an individual. It teaches about the past and prepares us for the inevitable future. In other words, education is experience.
What is it that keeps Indian education bound in chains? India is a nation with diversities in each and every aspect, which may be culture, folk, mores, cuisines, language and for that matter even education. It is because of this need to cater to these diversities that we have several boards and institutions – CBSE, ICSE, NCERT, STATE BOARDS, IB, open schools and vocational training. But it is this vast diversity that keeps us unified. If ICSE deals in traditional and intensive approach of learning, CBSE prepares us to face the competitive exams.
The Right to Education Act under the 86th Amendment Act says that education is neither a privilege nor a favour, it is now a basic human right. The government might have made the effort on its behalf but a question is – Are all the people in the society aware that they are born with this right? Somewhere down the lane, there is lack of awareness towards this fundamental right. And even those who are aware, especially the economically weaker sections of society are unwilling to send their children their school citing the basis that their child supplementing their income was more important than him receiving education. A panacea to this ill can be making these people realize the indispensable use of education. An initiative can be taken by the NGOs and other private institutions to work for this cause.
The district authorities of the state can look after the basic standard of the education provided both in the private and the governments run institutions. They should especially see to the provision of the average level of infrastructure facilities. A healthy competition can even be organized amongst the various districts and will as well instill a sense of self-pride in the district officials. These district authorities should be answerable to the state authorities and the state authorities should be answerable to the central authorities. Stringent rules should be followed on behalf of the government and transparency should also be maintained.
Today everyone seems to be involved in rat race where every one wants to surpass the others. Our eyes are glued on giving competition to others and becoming a part of this vicious cut-throat competition. This has certainly received an upper hand over human satisfaction and happiness. Somewhere, our education system stresses on grades and marks that we hardly bother understanding the concept. Teachers are more concerned with finishing the syllabus rather than pay attention to the student’s understands of the basic notion. In this way, we give boost to rote learning and spoon feeding. Preference is hardly given to the individuality of a person, creative thinking or understanding something to apply it in our actual lives.
Our population roughly consists of 200 million youth i.e. 200 million ignited minds. Economists believe that in the forthcoming years India will be a superpower as we will have the largest number of young people in our nation. But are we ready to provide them with elementary education, good employment, and a job and health security? On the one hand we have the booming economy and increase in our GDP rates; on the other hand we have more than 60% of our population residing in villages who are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. If on one hand, we are the biggest outsourcing nation in the world, on the other hand, a major portion of our population is still illiterate. Somewhere we have lost the balance between the development and the provisions of basic amenities to all the strata of the society, education being an imperative part of it.
Sheetal is a Political Science (H) student in her third year of graduation. An avid reader and photographer, she aims to join active politics. She has been organising events at her college level through discussion forums like The Symposium Society, known in the University for its Mock Indian Parliament simulations. She is also actively engaged in the National Service Scheme (NSS) of her college where she reads out to blind students. “Elevation of humanity through the smallest efforts” is what guides her day to day actions.