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Indian Education-Changing Scenario

1. According to you, what are the latest trends in the Indian education system?

There are two ways in which the trend can be defined. One-what is happening and the manner in which it is happening; and other the transition in pedagogy and technology that the education sector is going on.

Previously all the parents and students alike were ready to go for science education in school as well as at K-12 level, so that they could pursue Engineering/ Medical profession. The parents were ready to invest in the hefty fee for these course if their children qualified in the competition organised by best Institutions like IITs and AIIMS, etc. For these courses. Even students who could not get a good rank, and they were rejected, the parents were ready to invest even in paying donation of lakhs of rupees to the private colleges providing degree in these courses. But the lack of employment and employability through these degrees brought about disinterest in these courses. Later students already having these professional degrees, just to increase their value in the employment market started pursuing the MBA courses. But apart from the well established MBA courses of IIMs, XLRI, Symbiosis, other students from local and lower rated Management schools failed to obtain employment. Gradually the coming generations were encouraged to indulge in vocational courses from the K-12 level level just after the school education or from the school itself.

A game changer in the Indian education system is the proliferation of digital technology. One of the most important advantages of digital technology in education is using adaptive and personalized learning for students. Schools provide students with laptops, tablets and even smart phones and students can use pre-programmed modules to learn at their own pace. This learning is often supplemented with video lectures and easy to understand notes.

With the Internet reaching even the most remotest of cities and towns in India, two way e learning is become a new model of teaching. Students in remote areas have access to faculty located in metro cities. Faculty have conversations with students and help them learn from the comforts of their homes particularly after their school hours.

Digital learning has now evolved into virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), thus taking learning to a whole new level. These technologies engage students and enhances their learning. They also allow for easier and more accurate student monitoring by the teachers. There are many apps and programs that use VR and AR and are changing the game for education.

Even a new pattern has emerged which helps students to take interest in stdies through gaming mode.

Of late a trend is observed among students in taking more interest in humanities or social science courses as well as B com and literature.

Journalism and media studies another course which attracts students who have the perception of media being a glamorous job.

Some students who do not want to pursue the normal trend go for unique courses like Micro biology, GIS, Investment Banking, Insurance, Nano technology and Digital marketing courses.

In recent years fostering entrepreneurship has become a topic of highest priority in public policy. This trend is due to the widespread recognition that business start-ups are a driving force of economic growth and significant job creation. Alumni of universities are seen as an important source for future entrepreneurs in dynamic and innovative areas. Successful universities in India underline the important role of academic institutions as catalysts for high-technology start-ups. Considerable attention has therefore been paid to formal entrepreneurship education at the university level. Public authorities and economic experts stress the importance of promoting aspirations for entrepreneurship among young and highly-educated people. Universities like DU have lot of vocational courses/curriculum to this effect.

Findings show that earlier zoology and human anatomy and physiology were most preferred. Ecology was least prefered. Topics in the physical sciences were also low. There was a trend among girls to prefer natural sciences such as botany while boys tended to prefer the physical sciences. Generally, students’ choices were limited to those subjects presently taught in the formal school curriculum. But choices have changed and with this change many new areas have come up like courses of Physical education kike Yoga, Music and dancing, Drama as well as painting etc.

Indian way of imparting education has made a radical departure in its character and form.

  1. Institutes have geared up to cater to Increasing insensitivity towards learning by the new and instant generation by making institutions marketing and completely management based.
  2. Complete lack of values and inability for emotional differentiation, social capital building has prevented the students to learn faster and llearn through observation and verbal communication.
  3. The line between coach, trainer, teacher and a Mentor has become blurred for both the masses as well as for the students.
  4. There has been a gradual Commodification of the teachers and their deglamourisation. This has prevented the best talents not to choose teaching as a profession.
  5. There has been a sudden outburst of Online “education”. Almost every Tom Dick and Harry has been busy in posting online content either in the form of a PDF or in a recorded form of Video. There is no accountability of the type of postings and a good number of times, the credentials of the persons are also questionable. It has really become difficult to classify information on the net, and select something sensible enough to ones benefit. It requires now a special skill to do so.
  6. The net has also raised a lot of ethical question about the meaning and value of quality education, since most of the Digital Platforms get heavily financed but only on the basis of number of hits and likes which are easily prone to manipulation.
  7. However, there is a slight hint in the realization of the fact that talent endowment, ability, willingness, and dreams and destiny all must be congruent in order to utilize a talent fully.

2. How do you think these latest trends can change the education system in a better way in coming years?

No, The net will change the way information is imparted, received and processed but not education.

Education has the ability to Help Differentiate right from wrong, Differentiate Emotions, Develop observation, Equip the person with an ability and process to logic it out. It is a process of thought and action synchronization, Wisdom to respond in right way and right time, and make a person humane. These traits are not being developed or even taken care of.

Education is wisdom, and wisdom is Wisdom is intellect, Wisdom is observation, Wisdom is involvement or Wisdom is love and empathy, and Wisdom is TRUE knowledge. Some acquire knowledge to grow their wealth, while others use their wealth to go back to the classroom. We have hardly been realizing the value of wisdom and knowledge in society and the impact it can have, there are no indications that we are moving towards curbing that mediocrity. Knowledge is not truly understood in India and it’s truly ironic that India knew knowledge like no one, and utilized it. The present mindset about knowledge in India has not been very conducive. To obtain knowledge one has to be receptive, to obtain knowledge one has to be intellectual; To obtain knowledge one has to be flexible, and To be Imaginative as well. None of these elements comprise either the present educational milieu nor they are on agenda of either the Government or the people or even the understanding of the people and the mode in which they will understand. Digital platform is the last option in this case to allow it to be developed.

Education is thought, and learning in a combination. These two concepts are inseparable. In India these concepts are not combined and are seen separable without any obvious reference to the fact that Learning without thought is labour lost, thought without learning is perilous.  Education is ability to engage a thought, and the greatest sign of Intellectual Mind is to be able to engage a thought without agreeing to it. What can be said of a society that is becoming more and more tolerant and more and more judgmental, unless the new generation knows how to engage a thought and learn from that Mediocrity is going to survive. The present generation shows no sign of shedding their inabilities and it is this generation that is going to carry itself in the future.

Education is about ability to bear failure with courage and is the best proof of character than anyone can give. It has hardly been taught to the present generation, how to bear failure, how to learn from failure, how to gather dignity from failure. Indeed the end of education is character.

Indians used to learn from everything-nature, plants, animals local people downtrodden, big and small. Their core concept was based on evolving, understanding enlarging and respecting, local wisdom. The various water harvesting techniques that have evolved-ahar, pyne, johad, zing, thingal are examples of genius of local wisdom in resource management. Unfortunately, we have followed the west in emulating their resource ‘exploitation’ by building large dams, completely ignoring the local wisdom, and the results are for everyone to see. Dams may have solved a problem or two, but they have created more problems than they have solved. The respect that “One can learn from everything or anything” is completely missing and is also not in many school curriculum that we can hope the situation to be better in the future.

The whole idea of education has to be reinvented.

  1. The new institutions that are marketing and management based have the capability to deal a bloody blow the way health industry has been hit.
  2. Students from the very beginning have to be empowered to think on their own to learn and learn from everything possible, not only from books.
  3. The line between coach, trainer, teacher and a Mentor that has become blurred is causing a heart specialist to treat an eye patient. The milieu is absent to the greatest disadvantage of the students.
  4. The Commodificationand thedeglamourisationof the teachers is not allowing the best talents to choose teaching as a profession.
  5. Thesudden outburst of Online “education”. With virtually no accountabilityof the content quality, the credentials of the persons needs some regulation and it is doing more harm as much as good it can do.

3. Please throw light on the challenges of modern Indian education system.

The meaning of education is different from literacy, and different from information. Literacy implies ability to read and write and comprehend. Information is merely fact presented in any manner to make it either tasty or to make it interesting. Education is all about learning in values. Education is all about an increased ability and willingness to learn through Values,Honesty, andEmpathy and its concurrent application.

Educationis notabout Rote learning,Educationis notabout Marks, Educationis not about Degrees, Educationis notabout Perception based opinion, Educationis notabout Being impetuous, Educationis notbeing arrogant, Educationis notabout being an Achiever, and Educationis neverabout Being judgmental.

In India too much importance is given to marks rather than to the process of learning and understanding the concept which makes the knowledge gained much more usable. Most of the students just mug up what is given in their textbooks without even understanding what they mean just for the sake of scoring marks. It is all about the marks scored, the total percentage obtained and which college the candidate wants to get into. In fact  in India, the system for its most part shifts the attention from educating for knowledge to education for marks.

And to obtain marks, memorizing is given more importance than understanding. The reservation system based on caste and religion and political influences has given way to so called teachers who themselves do not understand the topic and teach for the sake of money and money only. Teaching is an intention of reforming the candidates, not an intention making money. Teaching can never be a job; it’s a service with an intent that is different from a job mentality and intent. A teachers job is not like a businessman or a trader and has to be glamourized in a different manner altogether. Unless the role of teacher is glamourized, there is no way that teaching will be picked up by the best of talents.

Other than the identification of this malaise, the main challenges will be-

  1. The biggest challenge of course is talent, attitude, dreams and destiny mismatch among the students.
  2. Improving the level and quality of communication in this digital and whats app age of students who use either telegraphic language or an impure Hinglish without any aesthetic command over the language.
  3. Classifying information from the net and find what is worthy and what is is authentic and develop an ability to find its worthiness and genuineity too.
  4. While the technical developments are forging the education sector in a different terrain and age, we must not lose sight of the loss of values that can occur in a student. This value upliftment has to be managed at all possible cost since any “education” without any value is no education at all.
  5. As Education has become management and marketing based, where any training, teaching and coaching organization can change the perception of the people by a marketing blitz needs to be reformed. Teaching is an intention not a job, and the Government may have to intervene to explain this difference between coach, teacher and trainer difference. The teacher instead of getting himself commoditized and the student thinking himself as a consumer is fatal to education if not the coaching industry.
  6. The sudden outburst of Online education will continue, and the time wont be far off when it will be really difficult to differentiate content and its usability. The net rather than becoming a poor man’s resource will become a super rich resource.
  7. The judgmental streak in people is a major challenge since it prevents learning. A journalist in an article on Indian film and refers Mumbai film industry as “Bollywood”, passes the same judgement on global warming as the west; without his own logic and relates everything with global warming; passes judgement no holds barred referring to an accident and describing the deceased human beings ‘dead’ as if they were animal; blows Arushi’s case out of proportion, accusing her father of all foul things. A father communicating with his children only in English and that too incorrect English; and the new generation children reacting to every situation saying ‘oh shit’. A mother is unmindful of the garish dress that her daughter is wearing, whether she is able to carry it.
  8. Similarly, The child brings a complain about his teacher, making him an escape goat and the parents side up with their children, and in front of the child abuse their teacher, denting his psyche for learning forever. We have started living in a society where the journalist do not know the language they are using, what words, where to use the words, what will be the impact of these words; the parents are unaware of and unmindful of the impact of their body language on the child, the youth are completely oblivious of the surrounding around them that they do not even notice the dominantly western facial and body features of the mannequins and frequently go for public display of flesh and affection which is so characteristic of the west. Day by day we are becoming judgemental, we are imitating judgements, becoming cynical and negative.
  9. It needs to be ascertained whether the root cause of all our anomalies and contradiction is the way we have been brought up, our parenting our basic and primary education.
  10. A modern classroom is defined by technology these days. Ever since Educomp in India raised the hooplah of Smart Classes, emphasis has been on technology.
  11. There is constant pressure on teachers and administrators to implement technology in classes. There are several advantages of making use of technology in teaching. These advantages being a uniform pattern of class, a similarity of content, identification of problem, scalability of operations and adaptation to swiftness of changes. The question remains – can technology replace teachers ? Well, the answer is clearly no. Though beneficial, technologies can never replace a teacher.Those who are mechanical, transactional and with a robotic mindset say that technology can solve every conceivable problem and that a poor teacher is not required in the class. Technology will create a substitute for the teachers, and a modern classroom will be more than a substitute for the teacher.

4. Are authorities taking efforts to overcome these challenges? Please elaborate.

Our problems lie somewhere, we are solving the problem somewhere else. The present form of education has not evolved to address the problem of identity loss, the present form must not always address the problem quantitatively. It will require, apart from quantitative reach a much more elaborate qualitatively oriented ‘education’ that is not merely information, and literacy. The concept of value learning in the digital age is hardly going to be reformed to include emotive and sentimental issues.

Teachers are now considered as commodities (and they also make themselves as commodities) and students as consumers. Something that is associated with creative thinking, creative learning can never be, and never ever be reduced to so mundane and mechanical. Teaching like music best flourishes in non-mechanical ambience fuelled by respect and affection the teachers and/or singers get from their students and audiences. The mentors in Indian case had always been full of gravity and character, never as agents of public relations manager masquerading as teachers. A teacher in India in order to be identified has to market himself not be knowledgeable or value loaded and this part is completely antithetical to learning environment.

No matter how advanced or smart a computer program or a product is, it can never come close to the knowledge and life experience a teacher brings. Several researches have been conducted and it has been proven time and again that teachers bring about a change which no technology can. A teacher simply does not impart knowledge or information. And teaching is definitely not about facts and figures. A teacher leads, guides, facilitates and mentors a student. They are role models who set an example to students and drive them towards a brighter future. Teachers inspire the personality of students. The eye contact that the teachers make and the values that they impart cannot be replicated by technology.

A good teacher encourages independent thoughts and independent learning. He/she can be a positive influence, can be an inspiration to set and achieve goals. The trust and bond between a teacher and student creates the perfect learning environment; which can never be achieved through virtual learning.

The generation today loves technology. To connect with students and help them understand better, a teacher will have to explore new ways to engage them. And, technology will certainly play an important role in achieving just that. Technology has immense potential to upgrade today’s educational system.

New educational technologies will not only energize the students, but teachers as well. Which means, even in a technology-infused learning environment, the role of the teacher will remain ever-important. Yes, it will become less traditional, but important nonetheless!

While classrooms cannot function without a teacher, the fact remains that in the near future it will be the other way around too. Facilitating learning through technology presents tremendous opportunity for both the student and the teacher to deepen their knowledge and empower themselves. The teacher will have to become a facilitator of parting trustworthy information from electronic sources to the students. Teachers versus technology are an ongoing battle.

Technology plays a supporting role, but it’s the teacher who brings it all together. Technology is certainly changing the way students learn, but it cannot be termed as a replacement for teachers. High-quality teachers create a classroom culture that motivates students and leads them on the path of success. Technology cannot inspire, help them through their struggles, help them fight back and stand up. Yes! Technology can only be a helping factor to learn, but it cannot replace the knowledge and experience that come with a teacher. So, the future of education will not be teachers versus technology, but it will be teachers plus technology.

The value of “education” in some quarters is being re-identified. Howsoever difficult the education scenario in the country may be, there are some lights and some departures from the established norm of so called education. The new meaning and interpretation is related to

  1. Understanding of increased role of imagination, creativity and novelty of content in education,
  2. Giving a proper direction to career, life and leadership through education.
  3. Increasing realization of the purpose of education to be using the best talents in their respective fields, for which they are meant.
  4. Use of technology to help imagination that is by augmented reality, immersive technology, and virtual reality
  5. Evolution and development of new vistas of learning and increasing microspecialisation of the newly identified branches of knowledge for 21st century world.
  6. And addition of new forms of attitudinal learning, attitudinal transformation and new learning through thought leadership training, perception and knowledge management skills.
  7. There has to be regulation for teaching shops, that is coaching institutes headed by Academicians rather than a Civil Servant.
  8. Identification of the best teachers and a complete holistic institution devoted to teachers and improving the respectability of the teaching community.

These trends have to be fully evolved to meet the nuances of new world, new knowledge frontiers and with new technology. The upcoming world will get it interwoven with local wisdom, in a glocalised manner and has to unlearn new forms, new thinking. There will be no mediocrity; there will be only substances fit for every person, every human, every student and anyone for whom learning will be fun…. It has to be fun to sustain and survive education by converting and prevent mediocrity to individual’s talent niche and specialization.

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