5 Things A First Time Voter Should Remember Before Heading To The Ballot In 2019

We have come to the end of this year and now we head towards 2019 – a year of Lok Sabha elections, which will decide the fate of our nation for the next 5 years. There will be multiple issues that voters will be keeping in mind, before they go out to vote.

In this election season, Youth Ki Awaaz asked me to do a story on the things we must keep in mind before we head out to vote in 2019. Hence, keeping this theme in mind, I thought about addressing young first time student voters in this election. I would like to talk about the issue affecting them the most, which is education and employment.

With 65% of our country’s population below the age of 35, we all boast about how young we are as a nation and about empowering our youth to bring out any significant social change. But we need to realise the idea behind the word empowerment in a real sense.

In India, we have a world-class filtration system in place of an education system. Here, we give so much importance to marks and scores – as if it’s the only thing that will decide the successful future of an individual. But the million dollar question which we need to ask is that even after stressing so much over marks, entrance exams and degrees, where are the jobs?

The questions which need to be asked in 2019 elections should be :

  1. Are the courses in our universities structured and designed well-enough to ensure employment?
  2. Does a valid college degree necessary guarantee a job today? Why even after Masters and PhD, is the unemployment rate is so high?
  3. Are we giving sufficient practical exposure to the students, apart from making them memorise facts, definitions and theories?
  4. Are all the people who are employed, happy with their jobs or do they also feel under-employed?
  5. Are there sufficient career-counselling services and guides available in our schools and colleges to help out our students?

Unfortunately, no stress is being given on quality vocational training in our schools and colleges, which is very much required to make our students employable. Our course structures are so theoretical, outdated and textbook oriented that they don’t generate enough employment opportunities and that is the reason when young graduates are hired by any company, they first have to undergo professional training for first 6 months to learn about their work.

In the 21st Century, basic technology literacy is a skill that has become a part of life, be it in our homes or workplaces and the same needs to be reflected in our schools as well. For anyone who has to join the workforce, basic technology literacy is absolutely necessary. Learning must be experimental and practical which inculcates the skills of questioning, scrutinising and contemplating about our actions, decisions and experiences.

There should be a multi-disciplinary approach of education and the need of introducing various new subjects/key fields according to the interest of students. There should be discussion about the new evaluation methods in colleges and schools, reforming traditional theoretical course structures, marking & accreditation of students on holistic and broader parameters for promoting sustained, inclusive, multi-dimensional and equitable growth.

Education in India is often criticised for being based on rote-learning and cramming rather than problem-solving. Therefore, today, we are witnessing an era of jobless growth. There is a need for an intense revision of our current syllabus and modules. A culture of innovation and skill development, that will feed more startups and create jobs, also needs to be promoted on ground.

Does any party or leader have a roadmap on this issue, is to be asked in 2019. How they will address these challenges and the immediate steps that they will take should be the parameters on which we should vote. We have to see how much importance they give to youth and their issues in their election manifesto. We need to question our elected representatives over what they have done till now on these critical issues and should then evaluate them on their performance and actions.

Though the number of universities, colleges and programmes keep on rising in the country, the lack of quality education still persists. Rote-learning methods, profit-hungry managements, lack of skill- education, corruption, lack of teaching faculty (both in terms of quantity and quality) and infrastructure are the major issues plaguing the Indian education system.

So, will the elected government in 2019, look beneath the surface to address the problems that dent our education system is the question we need to keep in mind before we go out and vote for any party.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Raj K Raj for Hindustan Times via Getty Images.
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