There are two sets of people in India.
- Set 1 is going through the education system in India and does not yet understand the flaws
- Set 2 is the industry, which realizes that the education system is broken, but more often than not does not understand the reasons.
Through this article, we want to drive through a clear understanding of the challenges in the education system of India, including its evolution and reasons.
First, let’s take a step back and set the context of Set 1. Most of the people going through the education system in India are the first generation from their families and don’t understand what’s waiting at the end of the funnel. It’s only at the time of graduation that they get disillusioned and realize that the system did not work for them.
Next, we will start with the challenges at the college level and walk back from there. Our college system is haphazardly copied from the west. This means we set up our colleges to be research aligned rather than serve the local need for employment. This results in professors with no industry experience and no incentives towards the learning outcomes of the undergraduates.
In the west, the first year is common for all the students and only after that exposure are the students supposed to choose their major in their second year. Although like the west we do have a common first year for all, but we don’t allow students the choice of major in the second year. If we would provide the same major flexibility, everyone would choose computer science and it will become a logistical nightmare for the college system. In spite of this, we do keep the first year as it is because we are afraid that our degrees will stop getting recognition in the West.
The entrance to colleges and allocation of majors is based on the supply of seats and demand amongst students. Rather than market need, subject matter aptitude and interest. It’s the students who suffer, the authorities don’t care. The purpose of the entrance exam is to in a logistically feasible way filter out 5000 students from 10 Lakhs who apply. They don’t really care who those exact 5000 students are. They just need to in a justifiable way fill those 5000 seats.
This supply-demand gap in higher education results in middlemen coaching people to do better in these entrance filters. Tuition is a 30 Billion $ industry in India. People from a better of socio-economic background (less than 10 % of India) are 5 times as likely to get into our premium colleges because of the coaching tax they can afford to pay. The far bigger consequences of the coaching industry appear in the form of mental disorders in the youth. India has the highest youth suicide rates per capita. From 8th to the 12th standard the students are supposed to along with school prepare for these entrance exams. This kills the creativity, social sense and will lead us into a future filled with same looking factory workers.
The purpose of education from kindergarten to the 8th standard is not clear to anyone. Without a goal, a school cannot be held responsible to a standard. This has resulted in a multi-fold increase in the price of education at the school level.
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