“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for today”- Malcolm X
India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, as compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan, by 2030. India’s literacy rate is at 74.04%. The youth literacy rate, measured within the age group of 15 to 24, is 81.1%. There are 799 Universities, 39071 colleges, and 11923 Stand Alone Institutions.
Therefore, it can be extracted from the above information that India’s growing population and increasing educational institutions have the power to mold the world. In the coming years, India will hold the power to carve its own niche in the world. Thus, I emphatically believe that India must do everything in its power to take the greatest advantage of the present situation.
If Indians are imparted vocational training and their skills are developed along with the appropriate education processes, the Indian economy can act as the work engine of the world. The newly formed Skill Development Ministry in India has already started working towards this goal.
That takes care of the skills development part and hopefully (for the country’s sake) this ministry will succeed! But what about education! Are we doing enough? The Answer is a resounding NO!
We have been boasting about our mammoth science graduate workforce; largest in the World – that’s what they say. But, many experts have proven on innumerable occasions that there is no learning/knowledge depth in our students. I am sure many of the intellectual readers will agree with this point. I mean if you compare an IITian with any second-tier college in the US, there is a humongous difference in the students’ communication skills and overall personality. The IITian might far exceed the others on technical abilities, but that is not all that the world demands from an engineer.
Currently, the government is trying to take the right steps in this direction, but there is a long way to go. What the current situation demands, is a complete overhaul of the entire system. Studying is akin to cramming these days; rote learning still plagues our system. Students are being forced to imbibe information that may or may not be necessary for a successful career. Most of them tend to forget everything, once the exams are over. Still, year after year the same cycle continues. The best crammers are rewarded by the system. This is one of the fundamental flaws of our education system. How many of you remember your 10th-grade history?
Our testing and marking systems need to be designed to recognize students’ creative potential, problem-solving and innovative skills. The education system in India needs to be revamped in order to produce world leaders and champions, rather than manufacturing a cheap labor force for the developed nations.
We may have the highest number of engineering graduates in the world, but that certainly has not translated into noticeable technological innovation. Instead, we are busy running the call centers of the rest of the world –is that where our engineering skills end?
The goal of our new education system should be to create entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, scientists, thinkers, and writers who can establish the foundation of the knowledge-based economy, rather than the low-quality service provider nation that we are turning into.
The policymakers need to focus on improving the quality of teaching in the country. Newe institutions keep cropping up, every now and then, and they are hiring low-quality educators who are paid a pittance. This has to change.
The literacy rate in India as per the last census is 75% coming up to 80% now; this is promising when compared to the world average of 84%. Yes, we do boast about how exponentially our literacy rate has gone up; but is all of this really as good as it seems? As per the OECD countries (a group of economically and socially developed countries such as the US, UK Finland Norway etc.) the definition of literacy is: to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts. However, in India, literacy is defined as the total percentage of the population of an area at a particular time who can read and write with understanding in any one of the 22 languages. Here the denominator is the population aged seven years or more. Do you see the stark difference?
While educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts. However, if our country gets the education process wrong, the demographic dividend becomes a demographic disaster. Especially in a country like India, because the frustrated and under-educated youth population becomes prey to the blandishments of terrorism, and drugs.
There are two kinds of education-one that teaches us how to make a living and the other that teaches us how to live. India needs to focus on both.