India is a country with one of the largest education systems in the world. As of 2018, India caters to over 250 million students.
The Indian education system has revamped itself over the years.
You might have often heard your parents sharing their childhood stories and telling you how different their schooling system used to be compared to us.
From traditional classroom teaching methods to E-learning and the rise of Ed-tech start-ups has disrupted the Education sector.
Moreover, the pandemic has accelerated the change in the education system by replacing the National Policy on Education framed during the Rajiv Gandhi era in 1986.
Even though the education system has evolved over the years, there are still huge challenges faced by the Indian Education System, due to which it isn’t showing much progress.
Let’s get an in-depth look at it in this blog.
Indian Education System: The 4 Stages of Learning
If we take a look at the Indian Education System since the time of Independence, it can broadly be classified into 4 categories, namely:
- Gurukul System
- The Digital Era
1.1. The Gurukul System
This is one of India’s oldest systems of schooling, and its origin dates back to 5000BC.
In this educational system, “Guru” the teacher and “Shishya,” the students have a sacred relationship.
The students either live with the Guru or somewhere close by.
The essence of the Gurukul System was to teach the students the importance of :
a. Moral values
b. The art of living a disciplined life
Apart from that the students also used to learn subjects like – Sanskrit, Maths, and Science.
Equal importance was given to both academics and household chores so that the students learned life skills.
Meditation and Yoga were also central aspects of this learning system, which helped them stay focused, motivated, and enthusiastic, which helped them perform to their fullest potential.
During the Pre-Independence Era, the Indian Education System was highly influenced by the British Raj.
English became the primary language for teaching and communication. This period laid the foundation of higher education in India.
3.1. Post Independence
Post Independence, the Indian Government set up many prestigious institutions such as NITs, and IITs.
The primary aim was to provide high-quality education to match the standard of first-class education provided abroad.
This was closely followed by the setting up of Government schools across the country to ease the access of quality education to children from both rural and urban areas.
Many private educational institutions were established that provided high-quality education and various in-house facilities, but it was not easily accessible for all because of higher fees.
4.1 The Digital Era
Today, even though traditional classroom teaching methods are prevalent in most parts of the country.
The introduction of smart classes, Smartphones, and other digital devices and the rapid increase in the penetration of the internet in rural and urban areas has boosted the growth of Ed-tech platforms.
They are the new entrants and have already taken the education sector by storm with their offerings.
What’s setting us back?
In the previous section, we spoke about the evolution of the Indian Education System through the 4 stages of learning.
So, even after all these transitions, why are we struggling to provide our students with quality, student-centric and skill based learning?
The primary reason is rote-learning.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (2019), 40% of Class 1 students cannot even recognize letters. Most importantly, 90% of the child’s brain develops by the age of 5.
By encouraging rote learning, we are suppressing the curiosity of these young minds.
In India, high focus is given to marks, grades, and not the skills the student has learnt.
We as a country need to understand that marks and grades are just mere numbers that do not have the power to decide our career or our future.
Focusing on rote learning has just made the entire concept of education meaningless as it has lost the essence of learning and growing.
Rote learning does not encourage creative thinking, exploring unlimited possibilities, and experimenting, making learning dull.
This kind of education may just produce students who can mug up an entire book in a day but will not be able to answer any skill-based questions.
Rote Learning – The Villain
There is no doubt that rote learning is one of the biggest challenges our education system is currently dealing with.
This type of learning has been normalized to the extent that we cannot put an end to this overnight.
When children are brought up in an environment that only praises good grades and excellent marks, then the children solely work for the output either by hook or crook.
We as a society need to realize that by putting this pressure on children, we are not helping them grow in any way.
Rote learning can have a long-term impact on their life which could impact their future negatively.
- Blocks Creativity
Rote learning refers to mugging up the learning materials by heart.
This means that we are not encouraging our students to think out of the box.
Children are full of curiosity.
With rote learning, we are not encouraging thinking out of the box or conceptual understanding. Which eventually leads to them failing to do simple tasks using critical thinking and reasoning ability.
- Lack of conceptual understanding
The Indian Education system has designed its curriculum in such a way that it’s not student-centric.
For instance, students are expected to function like machines and just copy-paste whatever is present in the learning materials.
Students have often even been called out for not writing the exact words and phrases that were taught in school.
We need to understand that we should impart conceptual, practical knowledge through education and not bookish learning.
Through conceptual understanding, the student can get in-depth knowledge and clarity over the topic and not just memorize the book for the sake of marks.
- No – skill-based learning
In India, we have normalized the concept of turning everything into a competition.
Even in the education sector, there is competition to get the highest marks or grades.
By doing this, we are only limiting our country’s young minds to work to their fullest potential.
But also stunting their academic growth by not giving importance to critical thinking, reasoning, and analytical skills.
Which impacts their future in a negative way, as they are not trained to survive in the real world.
The Blame – Game: A vicious cycle
Indians have a crazy obsession with marks and grades. If we take a moment and think about who is at fault, then, in my opinion, the answer is the system.
Generations after generations, people have been taught that high grades and marks are the keys to success, and they were made to believe that it was right.
As a result, we were all stuck in this never-ending vicious cycle.
Therefore, this thought has been so deeply ingrained in our society that nobody questioned it so far, and even if a few did and voiced their opinion a few decades ago, there wasn’t much change.
It is only in the last decade that we as a country have started recognizing the importance of taking a holistic approach in the field of education.
We have now started encouraging upskilling-reskilling, encouraging talent, taking a risk, and exploring limitless possibilities.
Most importantly, if there is someone or something with the power to change the scenario of the Indian Education System, it is the – Education Policy.
If you are applying for a job or creating a profile on any job portal like LinkedIn you are expected to highlight your skills, why?
Because skills will reflect that you have a practical understanding of all the theoretical knowledge that you have gained through your academic learning over the years.
In addition, this will let your future employer understand whether you are fit for the role that you are applying for.
The Skill Gap issue
India faces a massive problem of skill gaps.
Even though India produces lakhs of graduates every year, only a chunk of them manages to get placed as they have the relevant skills required for the job role.
According to the Global Skill Gap Report by Udemy, 92% of the Indian employees believe there is a huge skill gap in the country. Whereas, 76% have admitted that the issue of skill gap has personally affected them.
Therefore we must encourage skill-based learning.
Wrapping Up – Indian Education System: What will its future look like?
In conclusion, The Education System in India has come a long way since the Vedic times.
There have been 4 stages of transition until we reached the Digital Era of Education. Even though the education system has revamped itself after years of evolution, India still lacks to provide quality, student-centric, and skill-based learning to its students.
Rote learning is one of the biggest threats to the education sector as it is merely encouraging competition, but no learning is happening.
The change in the Education Policy after 36 long years has brought a sigh of relief among the students.
However, we have to wait to see how it will change the scenario of the Indian Education System.
Further Reading: Everything you need to know about NEP 2020