State of Indian Education System – Appalling!

I was shocked the other day when my cousin told me that her daughter (3 yr old) studying in Nursery had 9 subjects to study. 9 subjects in a Nursery class??!! I cannot imagine myself to have studied so many subjects in 10th class, Nursery is too far to call. My cousin goes on to say that her daughter had to answer a set of 30 questions to get through an exam – Who is the Prime Minister of India, Who is the President of India, Which bird can fly backwards and such like. I had only one question for her – did the school teach the student her home address, her school address, names of her parents, home phone number – information which is critical for a child of such young age? Given the state of politics in our country, why would I want to know the Prime Minister of India if the same changes every couple of years, if not less? I would rather learn the capital city of my country, capital of the state which I live in – information which is much more stable, information which is useful. The nursery kid is not going to a quiz contest, is she?

I also read about one of the schools in Hyderabad which started of an ‘Integrated IIT course’ for kids of age 11. Needless to say, competition caught up and now there are dozens of schools which ‘specialize’ in this course. I personally did not know a school called ‘IIT’ existed till I cleared the IXth class (maybe I was too ignorant!). Parents pay astronomical amounts of money to send their kids to these courses just to keep ahead of a Mrs. Verma’s kid, who is after all going to a normal course. These courses, by their very name and schedule send shivers down my spine. Classes from 8 to 8 and then lots of homework – when is the kid to enjoy a game of cricket, sit on the terrace and enjoy the stars at night, listen to nuances of life from their grandparents, read about what is happening in the country, discover authors like Enid Blyton – no, the only aim of parents nowadays is to see their kids get into IITs – as if, that was the only way to salvation (if it is, then I don’t want it! And seemingly what I hear from my friends in/from IIT, it isn’t – not by a long shot).

Probably I am a little too old-fashioned, but when has this ‘going to tuitions’ become a trend? As far as I remember, when I was in school (not too long ago, 10-11 years back), going to tuitions was actually an insult. Even if students went, they went very discreetly. There was a social stigma attached to it – if you are going to tuitions, then you are dumb! Period. Students who were smart picked up every subject in school itself, and tuitions were a strict no-no. But today, the trend seems to have reversed. Going to tuitions has become the norm, and students who don’t go to tuitions are the ones left out in the race (what race, which race…don’t ask me, I have no clue!) School from 9 to 5, tuitions from 6 to 9 and then finish homework – no wonder, I see no kids playing cricket, flying kites, cycling around the streets with no purpose any longer. Sad state of affairs – and thankfully, I am not a part of it (but my kid would be – that is my worry!) [Tuitions have become such a roaring business – from LKG to Engineering, Medical nowadays – considering the burgeoning student population, it’s not a bad business proposition at all].

I still remember – when I was of age 11, studies was my least of worries – I was more concerned with how will my team win the next cricket match next evening, what is for dinner, how should I not allow the benchmate to occupy my space on the bench at school, will my mom give me 50 paise so that I can buy the ice-cream outside school etc. I spoke to a kid sometime back and all he was asking me/talking to me was what should he do to score cent percent in mathematics, are board exams really important to get into IIT, how competitive is the world – he was a kid of age 12. Tragic, but true. My father used to tell me various stories (for the sole purpose of killing the fear of water within me) to teach me swimming, my elder cousin used to teach me how things get done in the outside world and suchlike. Kids nowadays have only one thing in mind – to climb the ladder as fast as possible – my only worry is they have no clue which ladder they are going on!

It is erroneous on my part to blame the Indian education system of being fixated on IITs, Tuitions, cramming for exams etc., instead of the kid enjoying and learning life. It is just the principle of efficient markets – unless there was a need, the markets of tuitions wouldn’t have flourished as it is today. Parents are the ones to blame – they fear that their kid is going to lose out on top education, and hence pour out their life savings in educating them. We have turned Education into a commodity, into a ruthless business. We have forgotten the basis of education – education is for life, and not for a living. Instead, we have negated that basis totally – it is only for a living and nothing else. For me, treating the kids to bookish knowledge from 9 to 9 kills their creativity – and that would be a blunder of enormous proportions in the long run!

P.S – I have heard stories of many parents (and some who are my friends) promising that they would not subject their kids through this rigorous system, but would let them develop ‘freely and creatively’ – not pressurizing them into studies. However, once the kid touches the age of 3, these parents automatically switch their mode to ‘keeping up with Mrs. Vermas’ – so much for their tall and empty promises of ‘freely and creatively’.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful to my parents for letting me truly develop ‘freely and creatively’ – for not once did they say ‘Beta, you should get first rank – look at the other guy’, ‘Beta, you should study more – don’t play cricket’! I did get a stare from my father though – just once, a stare, no words – when I came back from a cricket match at 8 in the night, with my Mathematics 10th board exam the next day 🙂 [I think the stare was his fear of ‘Oh dear! This guy is gonna flunk his exam tomorrow 😛 ]

Update: My analysis of Budget 2008-09 published here (Budget 2009-2009 – A Bird’s eye view)

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5 comments so far

  1. A Cynic In Wonderland on

    ..not to mention the admission tests for preprimary tots – WHAT are they supposed to be studying FOR

  2. Esoterichronicles on

    Damnittt !!! I wanted to write abt this as the nxt topic for my miniscule blog thingy :P.. 😀

  3. PM on

    Gosh… Soon there will be creativity classes where they have a syllabus and teach how to be creative and assign a grade!

  4. Kiran on

    @Cynic – it seems they are supposed to be studying for ‘higher studies’ – such an irony!!

    @Esoteric – haha, sorry to beat you on that one 🙂

    @PM – You would be surprised – there already are such classes (a fashion which is soon catching up) Grade to creativity – oxymoronic to some extent?!! 😀

  5. Siva on

    I had a same experience when I was talking to my sis once… my neice can’t even talk properly… she is sent to school with bags of books and comes home with loads of homework……..
    I think there should be some regulation on this school system in India.


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