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Vital modifications: Need of the Hour

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

By Ritesh Raushan, Co-founder, The Gate Academy
The enormity of the Indian education system is known to all and this trait of our system makes it complex and more difficult to induce changes. It has one of the largest higher education infrastructures in the world, which has more than 624 universities and 37, 204 colleges. It is also the third largest in terms of education enrollment covering over 21.5 million enrollments every year which is approximately 29 per cent of the population in the age group of 0-14 years. In view of these facts and the associated intricacies, managing the system right is not surprisingly, a tall order.

Judging by the current scenario and the loose ends in the traditional set up, one cannot deny the fact that the Indian education system needs to undergo a complete refurbishment. The people in the system need to review and change the way they think and see how to build a self-sustainable future. Being a small part of the massive educational system and having observed the concurrent trends, I have always felt the need for the following changes.

The foremost area of change in our educational eco-system is the method of teaching and learning. Rote learning has continued to plague our educational system. The reason most students study is to score marks in examinations and as they grow up only to crack exams like GATE, JEE, CAT etc. The educational system introduced by the colonial masters in India was to create clerks and civil servants and till date it has not deviated much from the pattern. Breaking the conventional curriculum, the whole educational arrangement should be skill based and must encourage creativity, original thinking, and research. The testing and marking system needs to be built to recognize original contribution, in the form of creativity, problem solving, valuable original research and innovation. Additionally, visual learning should be introduced in more and more institutions to help students understand the concept better along with videos to enable students to apply the concept to solve problems. The Indian education system would change overnight if these elements were induced into it.

Following the loop holes in the teaching and learning methods of our educational system are the loop holes in the methods of assessment.
Assessment should therefore be integrated into the process of teaching and learning. It should be designed in a way that it can be used as a powerful means to influence the quality of teaching and learning. Assessment refers to collecting information on the progress of students’ learning using a variety of procedures and evaluation refers to making judgment on the information collected. The process and purpose of assessment should shift from merely assigning grades and awarding marks to include constructive feedback and assist with the learners’ improvement. Assessment should become a part of the learning process.       

Apart from these issues, faculty empowerment is another important factor to be considered. Lack of credible faculty is one of the major issues in our educational system. The institutions should consider faculties as investment rather than resources. The system should motivate the teachers by providing better salary on the basis of achievements of the students. This will motivate the teachers to handhold the students. Furthermore, all government recognized institutes should devote minimum business earning to faculty payments. This will improve their pay structures, attract better talent and thereby improve the quality of teaching.

Going beyond the traditional methods and techniques, India desperately needs to embrace the internet and technology if it has to teach all of its huge population. It makes complete sense to invest in technological infrastructure that will make access to knowledge easier than ever. Additionally, digital learning should be provided so that right teaching talent can be made more accessible.

The prevailing educational system in the guise of modernity has to break away from the colonial structure of imparting learning and move beyond qualifying students to follow the herd. The fact that we have the maximum number of engineering graduates in the world and the country still lags behind globally in technological development, says a lot about its inherent discrepancy.

To summarize, broadly speaking we need to revamp learning methodology from rote to experiential, we need to shift our assessment system from being knowledge based to application based, we need to empower our teachers at all levels and start paying them well to attract better talents and also we need to leverage technology to make education more accessible.

The goal of our new education system should be to create entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, scientists, thinkers and writers who can establish the foundation of knowledge based economy rather than the low-quality service provider nation that we are turning into.

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