In their 200 years of colonial rule in India, the British forces did some value addition to the then conservative India as well. From the infrastructure to one of the largest rail networks in the world that British introduced us to, the colonial rule also saw a new wave of education in India. Lord Thomas Macaulay to be specific, was instrumental in setting up this new revolution in the Indian Education system by introducing English as a medium of teaching and bringing in several reforms. Almost a century and a half later now, India still seems to dwell on a pre-historic form of education, giving rise to a new term called Macaulayism. It refers to the policy of ostensibly eliminating indigenous culture through the planned substitution of the alien culture of a colonizing power via the education system.
Contemporary India is no stranger to debates on the quality and type of education that is available. But there are serious concerns about this. As stated in an article on Yourstory, the Indian student population today is the largest in the world at around 315 million, of which around 120 million students are in the age group of 18-22 years. The education market in India is expected to reach over $200 billion by FY17. Currently, higher education constitutes 59.7 percent of the market, school education 38.1 percent, pre-school 1.6 percent, and technology and multi-media the remaining 0.6 percent, according to a study compiled by the India Brand Equity Foundation (January 2016).
With such promising figures of the Indian youth and considering their potential of growth, one would surely argue regarding whether an education system that is almost more than a century old will suffice the needs. The Millennial population is currently the future of India and needs most focus. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that a child today is a part of a forward-thinking and revolutionary education system. Children are essentially not exposed to much of 21st century skills, content or teaching methods. Primary and secondary education still follows a syllabus of rote learning, rather than any holistic approach towards studies.
In India, ‘religion, health and education’ are three of the most lucrative sectors to earn money from. Apart from private schools and colleges, educational institutions and private tutorials charge exorbitantly for a necessity like education, and the ones who keep them at nominal rates, do not provide the slightest of quality in that education. What we need to focus is on the holistic development of each and every child irrespective of their economical background. Quality education is a need, not a luxury. Statistics show that India clearly lack behind in terms of higher education as well. According to Kartikeya Sharma of iTV, India has a GER of 19 percent. GER or Gross Enrollment Rate, is the number of students opting to enroll to a higher education after graduating from high school. This indicated that only 19 of 100 students graduating every year pursue a higher education. And these figures are alarming, considering that it is over 50% below first world countries like the USA and Australia. Notably, the government aims for a highly unrealistic plan of increasing this by 30% by the end of 2020.
The Indian education system needs to understand that change is the only constant thing. With India witnessing a digital and global revolution, the current system of academic achievements is turning largely redundant. Instead of perpetuating this age-old system of education, more emphasis needs to be put on developing skills, digital literacy and market-based training. One of the best examples is Facebook’s recent investment in the Indian Education market with $50 million investment in Byju’s newly formulated application. There needs to be changes brought about in attitudes of Indian education as well. A general notion associated with Indian education is that of affordable education and not quality education. More resources need to be channeled into the educational sector, and it needs to be ensured that the resources reach the intended beneficiaries. The concept of education of only being relevant for a job needs to change. People and students need to understand that education and knowledge makes them grow as human beings and not only land a job. The current system on the other hand, treats education as a compulsion that needs to be fulfilled rather than a necessity that needs to be accomplished.
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