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A transformational India needs to overhaul its education system


India's education system steeped into colonial roots is crying for reforms. British in their moral pursuit to civilize India introduced anglicized version of education system back in 19th century after Wood's despatch and strongly criticised orientalist education. The fulcrum of this new system of education was around science and reason rejecting traditional knowledge and creativity.

The present system encourages cramming, passive learning, ignores holistic development, undue emphasis on cognitive intelligence and most importantly measures success on parameters of marks and salaries. India is entangled in paradoxical situation. The problem of educated unemployment is brewing while skilled labour force remains a challenge for India. A demographically young India can turn its high working age population into working population only through tools of education and employment to reap demographic dividend. India ranks 130 in race of human development index primarily due to low human capital formation. India realized the importance of human capital formation only in 5th decade after independence.

After establishing a clear case for much needed reforms in education, the question is what and how? Firstly we need to plug the present loopholes plaguing it..The detention policy be scrapped and Devnani committee recommendations be accepted. In a bid to increase gross enrollment ratio, we should not forget gender gaps. One way is to locate schools near villages as long distance from home usually acts as deterrent for parents to send their daughters to school. Cooperative federalism and emulating appreciable policies like jnana samanway of Karnataka can exponentially boost up efforts as education is a state subject.

Kerala has recently achieved the ambitious goal of 100% primary education becoming the first state in country to do so. Moreover, without blindfolding ourselves to merits of education patterns prevalent abroad, we should invite foreign universities to render education in India.

Chinese who realized their traditional thinking was coming in way of modernization sent the nationals outside to countries like Japan, Britain etc. to receive education who later returned to become republicans. However to be cautious, India needs to make it way through GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) to ensure that only high quality universities enter the fray and cost of education they provide is controlled.

Technology can prove to be an inflexion point in bringing population from rural and remote areas under the aegis of education and education reaching last miles. We don't need only smart cities but smart villages. This also means larger fiscal decentralisation to local governance units as emphasized by 14th finance commission.

Try to bring children with special needs in mainstream education and getting admission in mainstream schools does not become protracted battle for them. Inclusive education also calls for people from left wing extremism affected states to be given greater attention.

Adult and night schools for people to balance the education with their livelihood needs be opened. Value inculcation should be imbibed. Planned investment rather than sporadic funding for teacher training, laboratories, libraries and quality research in universities is a much needed step for India to accomplish sustainable development goals having failed to achieve them in MDG era.

A man of vision and compassion, Dr. Mahbub-ul-Haq quoted, "You see things that are and ask why? I dream of things that never were and ask why not. We are also in a dire need of such out of box thinking to create society that values multiple intelligences, accepts failures and encourages exploration.

India is globally acknowledged as a knowledge-driven economy. However there is a serious question on such acknowledgement as our education system is wailing for reforms. On a note of optimism by recognizing this need we have already taken a stride in the direction, what we need is persistence to realize this dream and out of box thinking.

-Payal Mittal