Walking through the current education system
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he word education is initially derived from the Latin educare, “to educate” or to “train”. This Latin word in its turn is probably still more remotely derived from two other Latin words e and duco. Taking together, these words mean: “I lead out of”. ‘Education’ therefore, means ‘leading out” – leading something out of a person. However, the word ‘education’ is also often used today with an expanded meaning to cover the opposite process as well. For today, by education, we not only mean what we draw out of someone, we also mean what we put into someone. It is a term that describes the processes by which one person tries to influence the behavior of another person.Education is defined in various ways. One definition says, “A real education is what a man learns after he thinks he knows it all”. Education consists of those experiences which enable an individual to bring forth every ability, skill and capacity to the fullest extent.
It is concerned with learning experience, with developing cognitive and also effective and emotional attitudes which are formative of human as a person. However, my focus in this write-up is not in defining the term, but in analyzing the system of our education.
Education, both formal and informal is extremely important in our life. Amartya Sen, the Noble Laureate in Economics, recently said that, for India to prosper and be developed, education and health should be given due importance. He said, ‘the proficient countries forges ahead, as they emphasize on these two elements’. He held that, education system in India is still poor, and thus, need to be fostered. In fact, it is disheartening to learn that none of the Universities in India is under 200, in World University Ranking, 2013. Punjab University is under 300 and few IIT’s are in between 300-400.
Actually, some years ago, some IIT’s were under 200 in world ranking. Thus, it indicates that, the institutes in India have not improved much, or the degree of improvement has been better outside India.
Possibly, some could argue and say that, if we learn well, we should not be bothered by ranking. Nonetheless, it is not to be sidelined, for in criteria of giving the ranks, whether students learn well or not, is well-taken into consideration. Consequently, we need to critically analyze about our education system today. During my Pre-University days, one teacher often tells us to read the lessons with ‘understanding’. And, he often adds, ‘knowing is important’. In fact, one big problem in our education system is that, the knowledge of the students is largely not tested through their creativity and developing from what they have learnt. Recently, one student by name, Singh, said, it becomes more difficult for Indians to get job outside, for we don’t learn – we just mug up. Today, there are many who do not get job, not because they lack knowledge, but because they lack ‘skill’. They are not taught and developed to develop what they have been taught. Indeed, the Government has failed in many ways for not creating jobs for many, but it certainly cannot give jobs to all. Today, thousands of students are in trouble after their studies, not able to get job; one reason could be – our education system gives too much emphasis on getting job, not learning.
In fact, we cannot say that job is not important, but our primary focus of going to school or college is not to get job, but to learn. For, if we learn well, job will search us. However, it could be argued that, while aiming to get job, learning is present. It is. But, when the main focus of learning is measured in terms of getting job, the real sense of education is distorted in some ways. It makes education cheap. For, education includes many other things. Since our education system is too much job-oriented, many problems exist today. Many are not able to start something on their own because they didn’t learn to do that. They are unable to develop from what they have studied, for they didn’t actually chew, but just swallow without chewing.
Unemployment problem in India is on the rise, and many students are apprehensive. When our desire to establish technical institutions is very intense, not to discourage the notion though, let us remember that, there are more than one million unemployed engineers in India.
Therefore, what we need to consider in our education system is, not only to put into the students to get something, but also to help them develop what they have, so that they can get something and bring out what is in them. The greatest help we can give to someone is not giving him/her what we have, but helping the person discover his/her own and utilize them. However, this idea does not negate the importance of learning from others.
Our education system is also very much result-oriented. We are, many a time, over-conscious about result. In fact, I don’t deny that good students get good result, but all those get good results cannot be called as well-learned. Dr.Venusa Tunyi, a towering figure in Naga Society (I hold so), is of the view that, there are many good results, not related to education or learning. Indeed, result defines the performance of the students and institutions considerably. But, all those who get poor or bad results are not weak and incapable. There are many who score many marks, but in competitive exams, they are unable to compete with those who score lesser marks. The idea behind in brining this argument is neither to throw ideas of making excuses to the failures, nor to discourage those who do better than others in exams.
Some years ago, I learnt that, 76 persons from North East got through in IIT. And, interestingly, out of 76 who cleared, 74 were from Assam. Perhaps, the existence of IIT in Guwahati, which is in the top ten often, in Engineering Colleges Ranking in India, makes a difference.
But, what happened to students of other States – especially the so called ‘brilliant students’? Actually, even from North Eastern States, many score high percentage and thousands write JEE (IIT) every year.
But clearing such exams requires good IQ, which we have failed to develop in our students, though it is actually possible. Perhaps, one reason is that, our education system is too much result-oriented.
Hence, what we need to consider is, whether students are getting good results with understanding or not. So, our primary focus should not be just to get good result, but to understand, learn, and get good result. But, I never deny good result is important. Apologies to those, if any, who think that it’s not fitting for me to deal about IIT or other secular courses – theology often pushes me into other fields of study too.
As a student of theology, it would be unfair if I do not deal anything about education system in theological field. Literally, theology is actually ‘study of God’. But, we seem to learn more about human beings and society. Like in any other courses, those who study theology are very much concerned about marks or grades. The writer, too, faced certain disappointing moments, unable to score hundred minus thirty percent in few exams, which is first-class in theology. The result, after receiving the result, was rather a distasteful one. It was like a thorn in my flesh. I would pacify myself, saying to myself, I will continue to learn. Perhaps, like others, we also over-emphasize in grades, and forget how much we learn and how far our theology is relevant and applicable to the Church and society. Profound theologies, without learning how i
Nonetheless, in theology and other disciplines too, learning is not the only concern, but whether people are benefiting from us or not, ought to be soberly considered. The need of knowing the context or situation of the people is enormously emphasized in theology and dealt with, but the big question is over the apathy of many theological students in studying the society and its situation; for instance, indifference in reading news papers, magazines, watching TV and so on. The application of the inculcated theologies seem to be not well developed and trained in many ways, for the question of usefulness and applicability of theologies learnt, in the ministry, is often doubted and discussed by theological students and teachers.
I’m neither an educationist nor an intellectual to change the entire structure of our education system, but with deep concern, I simply intend to bring to light, little ideas I have on education. Indeed, we need to give time and energy to amend and improve our education system. None of the Universities in India is under 200 in World University Ranking, 2013, and you know how many colleges in the North-Eastern States are under 100 in College Ranking in India. Much effort has been given by HRD and States Education Departments in different capacities, but it appears to be still weak. The Non-Detention Policy till Class XIII, as I study and observe, seems to have more demerits than merits. According to me, through this policy, the quality education that we thirst for will plunge gradually. One reason is that, knowing the basic is imperative, but negligence and apathy may permeate more in student’s life through this policy. In many schools, there are high chances of School Authorities, pulling the legs of Class nine students, which will have dire consequences. We have a question on this policy – is it to increase the literacy rate for mere recognition, or, is it to let students acquire true knowledge and learn for life. As I think, the former carries more weight. This policy will have more negative impacts on the tribals.
In any education or imparting knowledge, culture of the people, context and situation is extremely important, hence should be seriously considered. Today, we need to rethink and deliberate on our system of education, find out the loopholes and bring desirable changes. If we consider that the foremost thing in education is to get job, we will face more unemployment problems. If our concept of quality education is measured in terms of getting good results alone, we’ll witness less inventions and discoveries. Further, the knowledge that we acquire will trouble us. And, if our education system does not give emphasis on building a good moral life, we’ll have more problems in the society, with the presence of more irresponsible intellectuals.
According to our context and level of the students, our education system needs to foster and transform. As most of the time I talk about education, I often say, ‘motivation’ and ‘drive’, is what we lack in our institutions and society. We often talk about quality education, but what is actually quality education? How do you judge? I wish, more intellectuals and educationists throw better ideas and initiate in bringing change in our education system, according to the change of time.
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