Recommendations on How to Change Education System in India
The education system in India is not hopeless. There is a lot of room for improvement. With the commitment and determination of various sectors of society, the required changes in the education system in India can be implemented sooner rather than later.
The concern about getting these changes up and running right away is not unfounded especially with the fast changing environment. If this developing country is to capitalize on one of it’s biggest resource – its human resources – to spur it towards economic development, its government and people will have to act now.
Going Back to Basics
As per Anand Mishra, CEO of Star Infranet, the current K-12 system of education in India is already a big improvement over previous systems. But, there are a lot more to be improved in the basic education system of India, starting from primary education.
The foundation of young children should be rooted in early education. Their love for learning and their thirst for knowledge should be developed from primary school. This can only happen with the right environment that stimulates their natural curiosity. This is something that cannot be found in the current Indian education system.
The teachers themselves are not motivated or qualified enough. Teacher attendance rate is down to only 75% – 85%. Those who have the right qualifications are bound by the need to cram lessons into the class hours so that the students will be able to satisfactorily answer their exams. Although a lot of students get high grades, these marks are not exactly indicative of the students’ level of understanding of the concepts and theories.
There is also very little to be excited about in school. The classroom setting and atmosphere are not often conducive to learning. The syllabus and the curriculum are outdated. It is no wonder that studies conducted by international organizations like UNESCO found that a large percentage of students actually remained illiterate even after four to six years in school.
Given these facts, the changes in education system in India should address the following basic elements:
- What is taught in school
- Who teaches in school
- How the lessons are taught
Strategies for Better Education
There are lessons to be learned from specific cases in various states in India when it comes to improving the system of Indian education system. In Kerala, for instance, the literacy rates have shown remarkable improvement owing to the state’s openness to the changes recommended by the government. The education industry in other states can learn from these strategies for better education in India.
The Kerala Experience: Embracing Technology
Kerala is known to have adopted the social constructivist paradigm of teaching. They have the highest literacy rate in the country at present. They were also the first to be declared as a fully literate state. This has translated into gains in many socio-economic aspects in the state, including higher life expectancy rates as well as child and infant mortality rates.
The Kerala Model allocates higher expenditure in education and welfare. This has allowed state schools to embrace technology and move towards IT enabled education. Kerala schools were the first to have Information Technology in their curriculum. Apart from teaching information technology, Kerala schools are working towards making use of the same technology in order to teach other subjects as well. According to Kartikeya Sharma of iTV, this recognizes that there are various internet resources and applications can be utilized either for free or for a minimal cost in order to encourage students to study and do their practice exercises.
It is noteworthy too that the Kerala Model deviates from the traditional rote teaching method in Indian education. In the social constructivist paradigm, teachers have moved away from asking questions with answers that can be pulled out from the students’ memory. Instead, teachers pose questions that stimulate analytical and creative thinking. This promotes a better understanding of the concepts discussed in class.
The evaluation method used in Kerala was also changed to the Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation system. This took into consideration aspects other than the scores in the final examination.
Lessons from Kerala:
- What is taught in school – information technology both as a subject and as a tool for learning
- Who teaches in school – teachers who serve as agents of free and creative thinking
- How the lessons are taught – the social constructivist paradigm and IT enabled teaching
The Khan Academy Flipped Classroom Model: Focusing on the Students
The obsolete system of education in India today still practices the conventional rote learning method. The lessons are taught in class without checking for understanding. It is merely how much the student can memorize that is measured by the diagnostic tests that the students are supposed to take before moving on to the next level. Once the students pass their examinations, very little knowledge remains. Thus, graduates are actually not fully equipped to take on jobs and start careers in their chosen fields.
In a Flipped Classroom model, the focus of Indian education shifts from the teachers to the students. Technology is crucial in the delivery of the lessons and access to the knowledge base. The lessons are given in advance and in electronic forms – i.e. presentations and videos. The students can study the materials on their own and try to “digest” them at their own pace. This way, their own learning capabilities are taken into consideration. Those who cannot easily understand the lessons can go back and repeat the presentation and video.
In class, the teachers simply test the students’ understanding of what they learned. They are given problems to solve using their lessons. They are also able to air any ideas, questions, or clarifications that they may have so that the teacher can further explain the concepts. This kind of Flipped Classroom set up yields graduates who are able to apply their lessons to practical situations. These graduates of Indian education likewise have better analytical skills that could be useful in the workplace.
Lessons from the Khan Method:
- What is taught in school – practical applications of concepts and theories
- Who teaches in school – teachers who serve as consultants and advisers who can clarify concepts and stimulate further analysis
- How the lessons are taught – lessons delivered in electronic forms for self-study, interactive classroom learning
The Gurukul System: Paying It Forward
This is an ancient system, yet the lessons from it could be applied to the present system of education in India. It is a system of free education where a Guru educates Shishyas in a Gurukul. The students live with the teachers and “serve” in exchange for an education. There is a school in Maharashtra founded by Dr. Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil that operates on a similar Earn and Learn method. In such a system, the school prepares the students for real life.
Using the same system of education in modern times, the Gurukul system can be modified. For instance, the student does not necessarily have to reside in the Guru’s house. What can be picked up from the Gurukul system of education in India is the concept of peer teaching and paying it forward.
A suggested method in Indian education is to offer an opportunity for students in higher levels to teach those in lower levels. In return, they will not have to pay school fees. The students, however, need to meet minimum grade requirements before they allowed to teach.
As such, they will put in extra effort to keep their grades up. This practice promotes the drive to learn and the moral obligation to share knowledge and information. It is highly likely that they will be inspired enough to pay it forward and continue teaching even after they graduate.
Lessons from the Gurukul Method:
- What is taught in school – skills development incorporated into the syllabus
- Who teaches in school – teachers supported by peer/student teachers
- How the lessons are taught – experiential learning
These methods solve several issues that require immediate changes in the education system in India specifically rote learning and lack of teachers and teaching resources. By looking very closely at the three elements of what is taught in school, who teaches in a school, and how lessons are taught, the necessary changes can be drawn out.
The future of the country relies on how well it educates its youth. The problems in Indian education can no longer be ignored. They need solutions now.