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Understanding The Current Education System Properly, And Why Change Is Needed

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By Mahanshu Prashar:

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ~Albert Einstein

The need to change our current education system, the way we define educating people needs an urgent revamp. The tech savvy generation which has all the information on their finger tips is hungry and eager to bring breakthroughs, bringing the future of Sci-fi to present. All we have to do is to find a way to channelize their immense capability to right lines. These times are unprecedented in human history, vast human capital and powerful information sharing networks combine the intellect of billions of mind to create a global Mega Mind. This can be used to solve all the problems of humanity.

Going by the college drop outs rates in developed economies and the general disinterest in the present education system of the youth, the administrators and society needs to have a hard look at its education policies and frame work. This generation especially in growing economies of the world in South America and South Asia is young, vibrant and full of talent. This vast human capital needs to be tapped for building our nations. Mere governmental allocation of billions of dollars in education sector won’t achieve the transformation required. It is observed by many great Scholars like Sir Ken Robinson that the present system of education having a set pattern of School to College then Professional practice kills creativity. According to him it doesn’t let the individual realize his true potential. These views are worth pondering on because we are a Human Society which must strive to provide opportunity to every single individual to pursue what he/she wants in whatever way they want.

It may be argued that the present education system allows a lot of freedom by providing multi-disciplinary courses in Colleges and Universities. But don’t you think it is also in one way not that personal? In the end you have to choose what courses are offered to you and you can’t decide the course material. The education system of future must be Personal, Something an Individual can use to develop the skills he/ she desire to have.

The present state run education system somehow forces education on young minds. They have to learn Maths, Science and Languages to be successful. This kills the inherent brilliance which they possess. They have to learn subjects which they may not like but finds application in the real world hence the government thinks it must be taught. Now-a-days new technology, web based teaching is being used but all of this won’t achieve our objective to develop a more capable, skilled race of humanity.

The present education system of dispensing knowledge faces one more challenge from Knowledge itself. According to statistics, the advance in any field which used to happen in 100 years happens in a 10 year period now and this time period is only decreasing.

The knowledge base of any field doubles 5 times in 5 years, the time you take to complete a course of study. This is a very startling fact indeed, something which must prompt for a quick review in the whole system.

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. ~Sydney J. Harris

The entire model for our education system is built on Industrial Age beliefs about supply and demand that no longer hold true. Earlier the aim of education was to get people jobs to find them a place in the economic set up. But, this is not the case anymore a college degree doesn’t guarantee a job. Even if it you do get a job young people do not find many of them meaningful and in sync with their own personal identity and goals. The rapid acceleration of technology, population growth and the shifting of power throughout the world make it impossible to predict the “needs” that our society and economy will have even 5 years from now. Yet, we still believe that if everyone is good at math and science, we’ll be fine. Meanwhile, the arts suffer everywhere. As they don’t form part of the applied sciences to the extent engineering or maths do.

For all this to change the whole society’s view towards need a change. There must not be a transformation as the main title suggests because it won’t do enough to cater to the need of the changing times. We need a revolution of sorts, a complete Paradigm shift in the way we look at education.

The need to study in batches based on the year in which you are born makes no sense as it makes the college a manufacturing unit with products having dates. Humans are not meant to be designed to fit in a corporate set up just for the sake of economic development. Majority of young professionals admit that they dislike their jobs or at least they don’t like it. So we need to make education meaningful which is enjoyable and not a burden to be carried to attain livelihood. This is a hard task which needs deep brain storming and commitment from both society and government.

As far as education is concerned as said before we must realize that,

  1. Education is extremely personal — everyone is unique and different in their interests, talents and learning styles
  2. Human talents are buried deep — teachers must be adept at finding and nurturing these aptitudes
  3. It will take more than competency in the “Stem disciplines” to make our country prospers in future.

Children of today are bombarded by information from everywhere, Internet, TV, Bill boards, stage shows etc. There are an increasing number of children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). This is becoming an epidemic and needs focus. The challenge is to make education specially math and science as pleasing as a newly launched computer game. Making it interactive, lot of practical training and doing away with standardized tests is the way to go. There is a big argument by various educators that standardization of education though helpful in making masses literate kills creativity. We are making burdening children by these standardized tests. There is a practice world over of conducting strict entrance examinations for various top universities like for example India has one such very tough exam which is conducted just after school to give admissions to the top university of India i.e. the IITs . This exam is given by half a million kids and out of these only top 3000 is selected.

The present system makes students aspire for professional degrees thereby neglecting arts. Arts were means of aesthetic experience, Philosophy, music, literature were taught to enhance ‘human’ experience. But the education of today is anesthetic one, it takes away your creative abilities. There is a need to promote divergent thinking by giving emphasis on innovation which will lead to hundreds of invention going by the tools available today and the vast human capital. All problems can be solved if you educate a child right a famous person has said. So, we should concentrate on improving education infrastructure and approach.

The final piece I’d like to quickly add, is in regards to the joy and pleasure of learning. The reality is that in this age we will never be able to stop learning and, upon reaching a certain age, we become responsible for educating ourselves. It has now become a process that literally never breaks. Some focus needs to be placed on making the process fun, and maybe this comes through personalization, but today’s kids don’t see learning as fun, and more and more they’re also seeing that it doesn’t even guarantee them meaningful employment. So, what’s the point? I’m reminded of the Arrested Development episode where George Michael leaves public school to attend a “new-age feel-goodness”. Perhaps we need to move in that direction just a tad, don’t you think?

And to end with a quote,

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey

You must be to comment.
  1. Utkarsh Bhatt

    While people remark on shortage of functional schools in India, I say the kids who don’t go to school have it good. The national curriculum is odious and objectionable, seeing it is designed for kids who bow down before all authority and empty suits, regardless of whether they make any sense at all. You cannot contest your teacher. At all. Never. Such behavior is simply unacceptable. Put another way, the system is a hundred percent authoritarian.
    School kills all your creativity. Creativity, especially of the extrovert kind, is not encouraged. There are tried and tested methods to break the will of those who are too free. The system is based on rote-memorization. You must bend your mind a certain way to do that: it means all the rules are already laid out and decided for you. You do not need to think. Your brain must function in a certain way. Any challenge to the established order will make you a pariah.
    Kids learn how to secretly and openly hate each other over the grades they are given for breaking their own will and doing pointless mind-numbing work that will be of no use to them at any point in their later life. The focus is on merit. On who is better at following rules. No wonder India has not produced a single India-based world-class scientist/technician/engineer. Science, technology and engineering, after all, are fields where your ability to think is highly valuable

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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