Literacy means the ability to understand, read and write a short simple statement in your everyday life. According to Human Development report 2016, the HDI Rank of India in educational achievements was 131 out of 188 countries, with 72.1% adult literacy rate, and with youth literacy rate of 87.2% in females and 91.8% in males. It is a good improvement as compared to 2001, when it was 64.81%. As per 2016 reports, total India population data published by the Population Reference Bureau was 1,329 million, second in the world and has been predicted to reach the 1st place by 2050 with 1,708 million. At the global scale, the Indian institution of science, one of the finest Universities in India ranked 153rd in the world and 33rd in Asia.
While comparing the above mentioned numbers, I asked myself – Why are we dominating the world in the human resource and still lacking behind in other areas. The quality of education, or the lack of it, can not always be measured by the amount of books, benches and classrooms. It needs to be assessed by intangible factors like the impact on behavior of children, purpose of what’s being taught and factors that make students what they become.
For higher studies and job applications, we are always asked, about our ”Achievements and co-curricular activities in school”. Looking back, I always regret that I did not do anything extra and wish I participated more outside the classroom.
Recently, I got a chance to interview the high school students of a private school from my hometown, and also facilitated an interactive session to motivate them. I requested for a permission to be left alone with students so that they can talk freely without any fear of being judged. I started my session with a simple question, “Why do you come to school?”. Everyone started looking at each other and the room had pin-drop silence. No one answered even when I asked for volunteers and lastly, I had to pick a student from 9th standard. “Sir, everyone comes. So, do I”, he replied. Then, I picked another student from 10th standard and he said, “It’s a common thing to do. My parents asked me to go, so I came to school.”
It wasn’t surprising because if someone would have asked me these questions at that age, I would have said similar things. After visiting a few more schools, there was still not much change in the answers that reluctantly came my way. In some schools, where the the strength of students was high, we used sheets of paper to write the answers as I asked the questions:
What does education mean to you?
What do you want to become, and why?
In spite of telling them to not copy answers from others because there is no right or wrong here, they still did it for the fear of being wrong. Most of them said something like, “Education is important because it gives respect. We study to gain more marks so that we can get a good job. It is the root for future security.”
These responses say a lot about our schools and the society where we grow up. Schools often give a message that “If you’re doing something else than being surrounded by books, you are wasting your time. Utilize the time well and study to get good marks.” Parents put so much pressure on their children to get the first rank. Employers expect a fine resume for jobs. Ultimately, stay in the comfort zone where no one points fingers at us, we stop taking risks. Students get so busy to chase the marks and then jobs that they forget all about their interests, skills, likes and dislikes.
Education in private sector has become like any other business. There are banners and advertisements everywhere, displaying high scores of their students, facilities provided on campus and qualifications of teachers. We are losing the quality by concentrating only on evaluation system and not looking beyond that. Education is not just about teaching subject knowledge but also about knowing our surroundings, our society and our selves.
The implementation of education will be successful only when students understand its objectives and are able to practice the learning in their daily lives. I wonder what is the goal of people who are running the current education system and whether they ever ask themselves if they are succeeding or not.