At the launch of the second edition of Smart India Hackathon 2018, (an initiative by the HRD Ministry), the Hon’ble HRD Minister rightfully pointed out that students have become slaves of coaching institutes, and that these institutes promote rote learning. He further added, “Very few teachers like to be asked questions and this has prevented overall understanding of subjects and learning… This is the reason coaching centres are getting stronger.”
All though I realized that the Hon’ble Minister is referring to the coaching centres which advertise getting into IITs and IIMs, reading the content left me with profound thoughts as to why parents and students opt, and rely, on coaching institutes. Being a product of a coaching institute myself, where I studied for 3 years (classes 8, 9, and 10), I question myself as to why I and all my fellow batch mates opted for coaching.
To my mind, I was schooled in the best school in my vicinity with all the facilities, academics and extracurricular activities that can help students in all-round development. However, our lectures were time-bound and there was a huge syllabus to be completed. Most of the time, the teachers would focus on completing the syllabus and ignore everything else. Hence, there was a dire need of coaching institutes which offered everything related to academics, and many students would completely rely on these institutes.
So who sets the syllabus? The Government? Since I studied from Maharashtra State Board, it was the Education Department of the State of Maharashtra (as printed in our textbooks).
The syllabus is an epitome of promoting rote learning and coaching classes are a reliable source to learn well and vomit in our papers. Because eventually, your percentage is just a product of your rote learning and the passport to your college admissions. So why would I bother to understand concepts when, eventually, I don’t have to think, I just have to mug up? Why would students bother to pay attention in school or participate in any activity, when them and their parents know well that they just have to aim for that perfect score to get into the desired Institution?
A school or a college can provide the best facilities, remarkable faculties, and infrastructure. However, they certainly do not have any autonomy regarding the syllabus. To my mind, educational reforms are a need of the hour which every Government in power has always neglected. The Government comes up with different programs and initiatives, asking the youth to contribute. But how would one feel that sensitivity towards any cause, when in school most of us never did critical thinking – just rote learning aiming for a perfect score? We fail to understand that everything is interrelated and that success is born out of interdependence.
We need to understand as a nation that education is an important component of life, after health, and it is crucial to impart sensible education. Institutes may be trying hard to provide exposure to all students; however, they only ensure the development of a few bright students who accept the fact that they have to learn in a rote manner and clear the exam. But what about the other students in the classroom? When they enter college life or professional life, they end up discouraged, because what they have learnt so far has nothing to do with their practical job. This is a common problem faced by the youth in the nation.
It’s high time that the Government introduces educational reforms and appoints educators and retired academicians to design and evaluate the curriculum every academic year. In this volatile world which is constantly changing, it is imperative to appoint academicians to administer the reforms that are implemented. It is essential that the Government partners up with universities and provides opportunities to implement what students learn in a classroom. So that education has value, and every student becomes an ambassador for the right to education. So that every student feels responsible and understands the magnitude of being educated and not just literate.
We are known as a sensitive nation, and we are easily offended. However, it’s time that we impart sensible education and be sensible, conscious citizens.
Education without values is a complete waste. It’s not just the Government, the school authorities, or the teachers – we all need to contribute to this as parents and students by enjoying what we learn, and I hope that the Government introduces reforms in which moral values and character development are given priority.
Lastly, Let us remember the words of Margaret Mead, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”