Education System In India: Make A Living or Make A Life?

Posted on December 7, 2010 in Education

By Pallavi Murthy:

Yet again a teacher sent to jail for having slapped a child and yet again a student at IIT attempted a suicide! On one hand is a teacher who threw acid on a girl’s face because she rejected his marriage proposal while on the other hand is a student who falls in love with his teacher because he finds her ‘hot’. On one hand is a student who finds it hard to take the pressure of clearing the examinations while on the other hand a student fails in all his exams but still gets promoted and gets a first class degree because of donation and bribery. These have become an everyday news headline now. So who is to be blamed for all this- the Education system, the teachers, the parents or the children?

First let’s start with the basic meaning of education and its purpose. Education is the process of imparting knowledge. In simple words it involves two main processes i.e. teaching and learning. The main purpose of education is to develop knowledge, skill and the character of a person. It is process of passing information from one person (teacher) to the other (student). We know the basic law of heat transfer. It states that ‘in a system, heat always flows from hot body to the cold body’ to maintain an equilibrium in the system. The same thing goes with education, where the ‘system’  is the ‘society’ we live in, ‘heat’ is ‘knowledge’  and the ‘hot body’ is a person with ‘more knowledge’  and the ‘cold body’ is the person with ‘lesser knowledge’. The need for education is to maintain a balance or equilibrium in the society.

“The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his

Mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e.,

Conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to

be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be

Equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.”

-Ayn Rand

Education can be divided into 2 main classes: Value-based education and materialistic education. Today education is just a social symbol to prove that a person is literate. It is both the passport and visa for getting a job with a high salary package. But can a person with many degrees, holding a high position in a reputed company and having no moral values be called educated?

Today, education has become a mere business. In an attempt to increase the number of educational institutes, the quality of education is being lost. As the number of institutes increase, the need for teachers also increases. In today’s educational world money plays a very important role. There are many teachers who teach for the sake of good salary and easily shift to another school if he/she is offered a better pay. I do not deny the fact that we also do have many teachers who teach whole-heartedly. The parents of the students have to pay through the nose. Most of the admission processes in schools happen through donation and in the schools the students learn the lessons of earning money, not being moral. Modern schools may teach discipline, but when it comes to ethics and moral values, all of us know very well what the result is. The present system teaches how to make a living not how to make a life!!

What is life without morals? Where has the values-based education gone? There was the time of Gurukul education where the moral values were given more importance than the materialistic book knowledge. Teachers were treated like Gods. In the Gurukuls everything was taught right from the Vedas to archery, Forestry to meditation. Also, education was free and at the end of the learning process the shisyas (students) would give guru dakshina to the guru as a token of gratitude. I know it would be foolish to say that in today’s times — we should have free education!! Slowly the Gurukuls took a back seat with the advancement of education and emergence of the various fields. Then the schools and universities were set-up which ended up giving materialistic modern education. I am not saying that we should get back to the Gurukuls and learn the moral values and Vedas.

In our education system moral values and material knowledge should be balanced. The syllabus in schools should be made flexible to accommodate for both the essentials. The outside world is changing everyday and so should the syllabus being taught in schools and colleges. If the students are supposed to just rattle off the same things that their parents and grandparents learnt years before, then what is the use of such education? The syllabus should include courses that enhance one’s thinking abilities, that builds up one’s character and of course give an introduction to the subject chosen by the student. The choice of the subject should be a bridge between the child’s ambition and future.

Also, parents play a very important role in determining their child’s future. A child should be given freedom to choose his/her own career. Right from 7th standard the parents pressurize their kids to study well so that they can get admitted in top colleges like the IITs and NITs. They send their children to coaching centres who are ‘manufacturers’ of IIT and NIT ‘products’. But they don’t realize that it’s ultimately their kids who are going to suffer.

I am not here to talk about the drawbacks of the educational system. If I lay further emphasis on the flaws in the system, you’ll surely say I am being too pessimistic. Every coin has two sides- the good and the bad. I have spoken quite a lot about the bad side. The modern educational system is scientific and more realistic. It helps in building up a competitive spirit which is most required in today’s fast paced world. It has been bringing a socio-economic transformation in the society. The Indian education system is considered one of the best systems of education. It makes the students mentally strong to face the cruel challenges of life.

The system could be made better with the cooperation of the students, parents and teachers. The students first need to be clear about what they really want to do in life. The next step has to be taken by the parents. As parents their role should be to encourage their kids to take up what they wish to do. After a particular class, say 8th standard, the educational institutes should make it optional for the students to choose subjects of their interests. In the college level instead of an examination every semester the students should be given the option of writing a year end exam. In colleges, instead of laying much stress on the book knowledge, what could be done is give an introduction about the subject to the students and then make it compulsory for each student to do a research/project on that respective subject and finally give a presentation on the research topic given by them. Well, it is just a suggestion given by a handful of college students!!

A bit more moral-based education and a more analytical and practical approach rather than a theoretical approach could make the educational system in India stronger and education more worthwhile. As an individual we surely can’t bring about a change in the system but if each and every one of us who is a part of the educational system right from the authorities at high levels to the students does our bit individually in trying to reform the system we surely can succeed up to a certain limit. It is up to us to decide whether we wish to opt for a living or a life!!