Centralised Education Systems Strangle The Ambition of Our Children

Noopur Patel

Noopur Patel

Noopur is a graduate student doing her Masters in Public Policy (MPP). She has worked on a grassroots political campaign and in village schools. She loosely identifies as a liberal radical and believes that free markets drive human progress. When not vlogging on Indian politics and being idealistic about the world, she can be found eating cake and watching repeats of Gilmore Girls.

How Centralised Education Systems Strangles Ambition

Take a minute and think about the time you were a kid and thought of your future self.  All of us, at one point, have had a visual of us as grownups, doing something, enjoying it and making our lives about it.

As a kid, I went to dance classes twice a week and to school five times. I wonder how it would have been if the schedule of these two was interchanged. I wanted to be a dancer. But the problem was that I didn’t know I could be one. It wasn’t my lack of ability, but the absence of choice.

When I taught in a low-income private school, I had an epiphany that I was making my kids go through the same rut that I went through, perusing the same matter that I did as a kid. I quit. I could no longer be a part of a system that refused to change with time and that is not beneficial to its recipients.

 

The Gurukul system of education

As Indians, we’ve come a long way from being a part of the Gurukul system of education that was born in the country to following an education that was dictated by our colonial masters. The Gurukul system of education that was largely popular and practiced before Independence entailed a rigorous, intensive form of educational training that was conducted by the ‘Guru’ (the teacher).

Anyone could be a student irrespective of his/her social standing and this method focused on the overall development of the student. They were taught science, grammar, skills, pronunciation, logic and their practical application. The teaching methods used in the Gurukul system were reasoning and questioning.

Most importantly, there was no time limit allotted for the completion of the course and each student would be given the amount of time required to perfect the art. This system was not regulated by a central authority and a free market existed, in which the students could choose the Guru they wanted to learn from, allowing for ideas to compete freely, no matter how radical they may be.

The education budget in India today remains as low as 4 percent of the total expenditure and the United Nations Organization ranks the country 147th out of 181 countries in education ranking.

We are a product of an education system that is centrally regulated, such that decisions are taken by the authority that has passed through the same training. This allows very little scope for innovations and improvements and the resultant is a static structure.

 

Private education in India has no profit incentives

In India, any institute for higher education must operate as a not-for profit organization. The law looks at education as something that shouldn’t be profitable and this is where we lose out on potential education entrepreneurs with extraordinary ideas such as Khan Academy.

However, many of the schools running in the country at present are owned by people in an effort to hide illegal earnings and they end up with unimaginable profits from the not-for profit business. There are less than a handful of teachers who are capable of infusing the system with revolutionary change. These schools that provide teachers with rewards are often very expensive for students and that’s where unequal financial access to schools proves to be fatal. Owing to these points, deregulation of education is what will bring about a revolution in this sector.

All of us think of education that is imparted in schools run by corporates. But imagine that anyone with the zeal to educate and with ideas should be allowed to start a school. Students will have a range of educators to choose from, healthy competition will exist, the best will survive and the quality of knowledge imparted will be the highest. Profit-making acts as an incentive that can encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to take interest in this field. Moreover, teachers should be the highest salary takers since they play a huge role in determining the future of our children and society.

 

Centrally-planned education cannot cater to all students

Additionally, the content that is taught in Indian schools is dictated by the government of the country. Everyone is put under the same umbrella of following a particular syllabus decided by the so-called servants of the masters.

Revisiting the adage of ‘every human is different and so are his needs’, it exposes fairly conclusively a truth that every child is a different learner with different interests. Customising education to suit the needs of the child is what should be demanded. One might further argue that an institution as large as a school in today’s time can possibly not cater to this demand. But a range and variety of different private schooling options on the market such as e-learning, self-learning and home schooling is what helps achieve satisfaction for diverse interests. Central regulation kills choice, and stifles innovation too.

The average school today run for around seven hours and are designed with packed timetables. All kids are made to study the same subject for the first ten years and then finally select one of the three streams. This practice undermines the creative drive and inclinations of students instead of nurturing their innate talents. Central regulation kills choice, and stifles innovation too.

The school system mars their inquisitiveness and very few gather the courage to break free. Majority of students go to school because they are made to and very few can retain the curiosity to learn. Students should be given enough time to think and come up with new ideas, realise their inclinations and proper facilitation should be made to enable them to pursue those.

 

Current government education is not aimed at actual education

Stereotypical schooling makes little sense when many of the most successful people in the world have explored the road not usually taken. Walt Disney, Charles Dickens, Elton John are just a few of them who dropped out or never went to school. It’s not the absence of schooling that made the difference; it was discovering their inclinations and pursuing those, that did the trick. Our system focuses on theoretical knowledge as opposed to its practical know-how. Its primary use has been made to climb the social and economic ladder and to seek public approval. Amidst all this, learning takes a backseat.

The British brought about educational reforms in India, destroying our foolproof existing system of education for the sole reason of manufacturing slaves who had an English mindset, to help rule the masses, and to cut costs in importing British men for administrative jobs.

Very few changes have been introduced in the system thereafter, and originality is often not spoken about in schools in India today. The aim of our education system should be to establish centres for educational excellence to fuel a knowledge based economy instead of establishing units for manufacturing followers of certain set psyches of the world, making it look like an assembly line.

A true education system will let children know that if they want to be a dancer, they should know that they can go ahead, and put on their dancing shoes.

 

Featured image from Inhabitat.

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Noopur Patel

Noopur Patel

Noopur is a graduate student doing her Masters in Public Policy (MPP). She has worked on a grassroots political campaign and in village schools. She loosely identifies as a liberal radical and believes that free markets drive human progress. When not vlogging on Indian politics and being idealistic about the world, she can be found eating cake and watching repeats of Gilmore Girls.