A country of 1.3 billion people that is engaged in producing students in ‘robotic’ form further constitutes to 20% of India’s population and 35% of world’s youth and yet the Indian Education System continues to deteriorate and stray away further from the essence of real education. Where every hour, a student commits suicide and 33% of the young population is surviving without a job, India is shrinking inch by inch.
‘Every hour, one student commits suicide in India,’ reported a national daily back in 2017; surprisingly, the title still stays true to this day with India making one of the highest suicide rates among the 15-29 age group in the entire world.
In recent times, students from the premier institute like the IITs have reportedly seen an increase in the suicides with continual cases spranging up parallely countrywide protests are marked against the administration to address the issue of unemployment.
The Lancet Public Health, medical journal, shared these findings in 2018 to shed a light on the growth of suicide in India among both the sexes. The mentioned graph shows a distressing growth of suicide from 1990 to 2016. Whereas the GBD data shows that young people, aged 15-39, die predominantly of suicide(s) . Suicide is the leading cause of death in this age group, in India, whereas it is the third most common cause of death, globally.
Now you must be wondering why an article titled about the education system opens with statistics and data about suicide among the youth of India. A quote from Dr. Shaibya Saldanha, co-Founder of Enfold India, will surely clear all your doubts.
“… failing exams or inability to cope with academics is the primary reason for student suicides.”
The education system of India, as the title states, is one of the finest robot-producing industry. Day after day, it pushes another apathetic robot into the world that either goes on to live a monotonous and monochromatic life or steps on the stool and puts the noose around his neck hangs himself. But what exactly is so wrong with the system? The Indian Education System involuntarily forces a student to do rote learning right from the very beginning. From having to learn the tables, to learning how to do long division, to learning unnecessary prayers and poems. Students are required to learn all this from a very young age and all because that is how the system works. These requirements keep growing as we move from primary to secondary and to higher classes. At first, we rote learned the tables, then we rote learned the important dates of Indian History, and now we rote learn the plays of Shakespeare. The system requires us to eat up all this information which is pretty much unnecessary when you come to think of it. For years the system has been boasting about striding away from the path of rote and bookish learning but our system glosses over their fantasies and continues to make human robots out of the youth of this country.
For years, the system has focused more on how much a child has scored in their tests rather than how much they have learnt. And, not only does the system has this ‘marks-centric’ mindset but also the parents and, ostensibly, other family members of the child. Parents have always compared their children with others who do “better” in exams and tests. Relatives have always called up their relatives when it is the ‘result-season’. The marks you have on your marksheet, surprisingly, still matters more than you actually know. Your GPA is given the upper-hand than your actual knowledge. We are taught to be good human beings who follow the rules and regulations of society. We are taught to follow the law and not do anything illegal. We are taught to pay our taxes on time. But we are never taught on how to do these things. We are never taught how and where to actually pay these taxes of ours.
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.”
I believe our education system took the aforementioned quote at face value and ran with it instead of trying to understand the underlying message it holds. Students are so afraid of the consequences of trying to think outside the box that they do not even try. Students are afraid of failure, of judgement, of not being accepted – by their peers, by their parents, by their friends, by the society. We stay in our 4 by 4 by 4 cube of knowledge and refrain from expanding the walls at all. Students are thrashed left and right for even trying to choose something out of the ordinary. A student taking up a major in arts is still looked down upon and is thrown around as a joke whereas a student who does engineering and then ends up not having a job for years to come and finally settles with a 9 to 5 job with a low annual income is regarded as better. The ‘life’ of a student isn’t as important as their ‘lively future’ is.
However, things are changing. Things always change. With the world continuing to become more and more modernised, learning is also becoming more and more virtual and perhaps, just perhaps, things might look better in the future. Popular website, YouTube, is playing a major role in this new change. Many redeemed and popular channels like VSauce, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, LEMMiNO, The School of Life, etc. produce content that is informative and educative. These channels make content that effectively transfers new information and knowledge to the viewer and allows them to learn things that they wouldn’t in a classroom. Students are beginning to choose a major in arts and go outside the usual norms and traditions. Students are beginning to choose what would make them happier in the long run. Students are beginning to stand up against the ‘marks-centric’ system and society.
Perhaps we might not be able to overhaul the education system but we surely will be able to put a dent in it, slowly and steadily. And sooner or later, this dent will turn into a crack and then we will be able to peel off this coating that robotizes human beings. Adolf Hitler, in his book Mein Kampf, states that, “The art of reading and studying consists in remembering the essentials and forgetting what is not essential.” Perhaps the essentials here is the importance to application of knowledge and the not-essential is the retention of knowledge.
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia