Education in India 2011

The biggest dream that any parent in India fosters is that his child will excel in academics, get 90% plus marks in boards, crack PMT, JEE or CAT and become a doctor, engineer or a high-flying executive. In more recent times, becoming a reality show star is not too bad an ambition either!

While we need to improve the quality of our academic education, we also need to stop obsessing with academics alone. Additionally, what we must do is to impart that education which builds the child's confidence, exploits his potential fully and provides skill sets for employability.
A recent ASSOCHAM study puts forth that the Indian economy will create 87.37 million jobs by 2015 but only 25% of graduates would have the necessary skills for immediate employment. The future scenario, if we look at these reports, is not very encouraging. The World Economic Forum's report on talent migration says that India will face huge skill gaps in some job categories over the next 20 years due to low employability and this would put brakes on economic growth.

To improve the quality of education, we need to improve the quality of teachers. For this, they need to be properly trained and given decent remuneration.
I remember the famous nuclear scientist and man behind Pokharan I, Dr. Raja Rammana, telling me that the best education he got was in his village because of the high level of commitment of his teachers. Our old rural system of education, which drew heavily in philosophy from gurkuls, was ideal as students bonded intensely with teachers and thus learnt better.
Of course, modern curriculum needs to be introduced, but we need to restore respect for the institution of teaching and our teachers. The 'Right to Education' is a move in the right direction. What needs to be ensured is that quality is not compromised.
Good money is particularly important at the university level, at research schools and specialized institutions.
University funding is another important issue. We can learn particularly from India's most famous and well run university in all history - Nalanda. Why am I drawing an analogy with Nalanda and not Harvard? You may call it a spectacular coincidence, but there is an astonishing similarity in the set up of these two universities!
Besides academics, music, art, sports etc. need to be given due importance. In foreign countries music and culture are treated with extreme seriousness. Despite our wealthy music tradition of various Gharanas, there is no systemized method of training, barring courses offered by a few universities.In India; we need to ensure that other sports are also properly funded, because, as of now, the condition of most sports besides cricket is pretty pathetic.
The most important education however comes from the child's immediate environment - his mother, family and other guardians. An enlightened upbringing plays possibly the most important role. The combined formal and informal education systems armor the child with the learning that he requires to fend for him and conduct his life in a way that is upright and dignified.
As a famous saying goes, "An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life."


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