Everything that's wrong with our Education System
By Gauri Thampi
As a child I was always excited to go to school. I have had few teachers who inspired me to dream big, classmates who taught me something new everyday, and at the same time I’ve seen teachers who are an absolute insult to the sanctity of the profession, and educational institutions that destroy an individual. Growing up, a child spends more time in a school than with his or her parents or family. Studies prove that the elementary education period has a very high impact in deciding what a child turns out to be in future. What food, water, and shelter are to the body, education and knowledge is to the brain. It is the only way of saving and protecting yourself from the world. But I would say that our education system is building a generation of cowards, liars, and a set of depressed, irresponsible and senseless citizens.
I’ve once had a teacher who told me “You’re supposed to ignore it. It takes two hands to come together to make a noise”, when I approached him to complain regarding a stalker I had. I was so naive back then that it took me years to realise the intensity and impact those words had on me. Time and again we were taught to ignore and blame ourselves for everything wrong happening around us. Education for people like him is swallowing and vomiting pages and pages of words that is forgotten soon enough and doesn’t make any sense in the long run. It only strives to prepare you for some odd future job, while years later you’ll be asking yourself, ‘WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!’.
When the world around you tells you what not to do, a school must be a temple of education which tells you what you should be doing. It should teach you the problems of the world, to have empathy and respect for others, dignity of labour, to be independent, to make mistakes and how to be able to fix it. It should always bring out a better version of yourself. An ideal world in a child's mind should be built on happiness and self satisfaction and not on money and material joys. Sadly, the schools we have today teach you nothing of this sort, and tries to teach the ‘fish to climb a tree’. The struggle is real. Eventually the fish might manage climbing the tree and reaching the middle most branch, a mediocre achievement. But all it takes is a tiny slip, and the fall is going to be harsh and irrecoverable.
Lack of holistic development is not the only problem our education system faces today. The problem also lies in absence of trained teachers, underpaid teachers, a rigorous but outdated syllabus, grade based evaluation system etc. The government schools are the worst lot with lack of proper infrastructure, hygiene or sufficient number of teachers. Teaching children especially in the elementary level requires passion, patience and perseverance apart from knowledge in the subject. A good teacher should be able to encourage students to ask unlimited questions as learning always takes place when you ask questions. Sadly, there are very few qualified graduates who are pursuing this profession out of interest. To an extent we can also blame the existing low pay scale for preventing fresh talent from entering this field.
There are many private schools coming up creating a facade of quality education while eventually they end up extorting money from the parents. I’ve once met a mother and son during a short trip, and the mother couldn’t stop complaining about the quality of education in her son’s school. She had enrolled her son in a private school, paying fees which is not exactly affordable to her. Though he’s in class 5 he could barely read few lines from his english textbook. For the short period I stayed there, I used to help him learn to read. He wasn’t very keen on learning english, going to college or getting a job but used to sit with me for half an hour every day because his mother forced him to. He told me he wanted to become a businessman. Probably he will also drop out of school like hundreds of other kids in our country, because he’s not receiving the education he deserves and there’s no one to teach him the importance of it. The government’s expenditure on education in India is as low as 2-3% of the GDP. In a country with a high population in poverty and staggering behind in literacy rates, the amount of focus the government gives the education sector is unreal. With a series of made up statistics and fake enrollment ratios political parties keep winning and losing elections and we are all reduced to mere voters.
When I was in class 4 or 5, I was asked to write an essay on “Where I see myself in 2020”, based on our beloved former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s vision on India becoming a superpower by 2020. I still remember my excitement while writing the essay, my hopes and dreams surrounding the country I will be growing up in and representing in 2020. Its 2019, and nothing has changed so far. We have a long way to go to even start dreaming of a vision 2030. India should wake up to get back on the path to this revolution. It is indeed a challenge, but not an impossible one which can be achieved through preparing our next generation. The government expenditure on education must be increased, the quality of government schools should be improved and above all the mentality of parents should change. Parents should encourage their children to dream big and guide them in pursuing their dream instead of following the herd mentality. I think this would be my essay for vision 2030, and everything that needs to change by then.