A Bitter Truth About Our Education System

by | Jun 22, 2017

Traveling with a purpose brings lots of learning and this time our purpose was to know Ladakh better through the of lens design thinking. I would like to share some learning from the workshop. The design thinking framework is a sense-idea-prototype-test approach to bottom-up design. You can learn more about it here. We fellows were divided into 6 groups and studied livelihood, education and healthcare system of Ladakh over a 3 day period.

I was a part of the education group. We visited public and private schools, as well as monasteries of Ladakh and interacted with principals, monks, students, teachers and many parents to understand the education system of the area. We found something very common with other parts of India and this is indeed a bitter truth. The preference of private over public schools by parents for their children’s education was unaltered. It is well known to all of us that nowadays only those parents send their kids to public schools who cannot afford to pay the high fee of private schools. Personalized care and setup conducive to learning were the top reasons that emerged when we spoke to several parents about this. Government is spending so much of money every year in the name of education but the quality of education is still not up to the mark comparing to private schools, while private schools are charging high fees and the victims are only low income group parents and their children.

But, where is the solution? We asked this question to Sonam Wangchuk, renowned educationist, on our prototyping day and he answered it very simply with the example of education system of Bhutan. The entire education system in Bhutan has been improved when the king Jigme Singye Wangchuk decided to send his kids to a government school. A single school was improved and eventually other schools followed it as a model and over the few years the entire system has improved.

Few facts of Bhutan educational system are: until 1950s, the formal education available to Bhutanese students, except for private schools in Ha and Bumthang, was only in Buddhist monasteries. In the 1950s, several private schools and government schools were established. By the late 1950s, there were 29 government and 30 private primary schools in Bhutan. Schools were depending on Indian school textbooks and people generally came to India for Secondary education at that time. Eventually, the private schools were taken under government supervision to raise the quality of education provided (Source: Wikipedia).

I recently watched the movie Hindi Medium, happy to see that the movie also gave a similar message.

Perhaps creation of model schools then is a way forward? However, in a country like ours, which is more heterogeneous than our neighbor, will the approach work or remain in silos as isolated pockets of excellence. Do we not already have those examples?

Imagine an India where there will be one kind of schools only with one board, the problem of discrimination in scores among different boards will also be solved. Or is there any public-private partnership possibility here to improve the quality of our education system?

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