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Deteriorating standards of education

Deteriorating standards of education
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Deteriorating Standards of Education. In honour of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, freedom fighter, eminent educationalist and first education minister of...

India is producing nearly 50 lakh graduates every year and a small fraction of them pursue research. In other words the number of people actively engaged in research and innovation driven projects are abysmally low

In honour of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, freedom fighter, eminent educationalist and first education minister of Independent India, his birthday November 11 has been declared as National Education Day. It is pertinent at this juncture to understand the current status of our education system.

In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated as Minorities Welfare Day. Our rural education system was evaluated by an NGO, Pratham, working in collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF in rural areas of five states- Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Assam and Himachal Pradesh and has submitted Annual Status Education Report (ASER) for the year 2012.

The report raised serious doubts about the progress made by Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009. The main objective of RTE is to ensure quality elementary education to the children of age group 6-14 throughout the country. A sample survey conducted in five states indicate that learning levels of rural children have come down and just five out of 10 people of Class V were able to solve a simple arithmetic problem.

There is sharp decline in the reading abilities of the children especially in the government schools and more people are sending their wards to private schools. To sum up even though there has been a massive improvement in the enrolment rates the quality of education imparted is not commensurate with the amount of money spent. ASER has made some valuable recommendations to improve the learning standards which include teaching in mother tongue, urgent revisions of the syllabi, proper teacher recruitment policies and imparting child-friendly education.

India over a period of six decades of independence has been successful in obtaining an enrolment level of 97 per cent in the primary schools of which hardly 30 per cent of them reach 12th class. As the ASER report indicates, our existing system of learning is abysmal. It needs a total revamp. Moreover, the age old curriculum is hardly revised to reflect the changing power of analysis and abilities of children to confront the challenges of globalised and increasingly information driven world.

The standards of our education system were scrutinized on an International platform in 2009 when children from Himachal Pradesh and Tamilnadu were selected to represent India for a test known as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). India fared 73rd position out of participating 74 nations, trailing ahead of Kyrgyzstan which was at the bottom of the table.

This World Wide assessment test was conducted by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for 15 year old children to assess their abilities in mathematics, science and reading. India has withdrawn from the PISA test in 2012. In contrast our compatriot China topped the test and their children from Shangai excelled in all the three aspects of the test displaying an outstanding performance. Till 1990’s India and China had almost similar infrastructure but soon China made rapid strides in education with its dedicated political commitment. It has reformed its education system in stages and the results are brilliant.

Even our statistics in elite education are not so encouraging. In 2002 India had 11,974 PhD’s as against China’s 14,706 and US had a total of 40,024. Within tune of 5 years, India had 20,131 doctorates while China had nearly double the number of PhD’s 41, 464 and was inching closer to US that had 48,117. By 2010 China outnumbered US in producing the record number of doctorates. India ranks 12th in the field of science and technology in terms of publication and has 119 researchers in field of research and development per million as against 715 in China and 468 in US.

India is producing nearly 50 lakh graduates every year and a small fraction of them pursue research. In other words the number of people actively engaged in research and innovation driven projects are abysmally low. From the huge chunk of freshly churned graduates nearly 47 per cent are unemployable indicating the deplorable state of present education system. Education has failed to empower the degree-holders as they lack the innovative spirit, out of box kind of thinking and entrepreneurship.

Hence again millions of rupees have to be invested in their training for imparting employment skills. This muddled situation has a massive impact on the long term development and sustainable growth of the country. It is showing signs of economic and social strain across the country even. Another disconcerting feature is lack of formal linkage between the industry and academia which could ensure a regular flow of inputs from experts on the course curriculum and research. Further, there is a serious shortage of qualified and professional faculty thus creating an impediment for passionate learning.

The falling standards of Indian education system became apparent with the publication of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University rankings which ranks 800 Universities from 76 countries. QS Rankings are made on the basis of four criteria - research, teaching, employability and internationalisation and sadly for India, its elite IIT’s are ranked at 222nd position. Even in the Times Higher Ranking no single Indian University figured in the top 200.

As a consolation, few Indian Universities could find place in the top 50 for some subjects. Quality higher education is an enabling factor that can ensure a growth rate of 9 per cent. Urgent steps must be taken to improve quality of technical education and faculty development.

The basic focus of education should change from the concept of making student mere repositories of information to set high standards in education for educational progress and innovation with a view to develop capability. India’s biggest advantage is its demographic divide and it has to fully utilise this opportunity to bring out the best in the nation where nearly half the population is less than 25 years old.

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