Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Engineering Aspirant's Plight Today

"I need to prepare for CET and JEE.
My college does not teach that.
My college teaches for XII Boards only.
But XII Boards marks have zero weightage.
Despite all this, Govt has made it compulsory for me to attend college.
For CET + JEE coaching, I need to join private classes too which advises me to study for atleast 6 hours daily at home without compromising on sleep.
Honestly, I don't need to attend college besides Practicals as I don't learn anything new in college since my classes cover everything.
Why is the Government making college attendance compulsory ? "

Is the Government listening ? Do they understand the plight of a student ?
Making policies based on pseudo-socialistic ideologies leads only to the suffocation of the student. Instead of talking only about student-centric education, Govt better do a reality check and make amends.
Either improve the quality of education in junior colleges drastically OR get out of the way and grant students freedom to attend at will. Compulsory attendance borders on cruelty to students.

NB: 80% of Junior Science college students in India happen to be Engineering aspirants !!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Time to do is now! Happy Teachers Day!

On the occasion of Teachers Day, I guess it is appropriate to ask what the new Government plans to do to revamp the Education sector in India. We hear of plans to unveil a New Education Policy for India whose first draft is likely to be released in December 2015. But no public debate yet in media or elsewhere on what should be the way forward.

Almost everyone has an opinion when the matter is Education. But it is high time that the Union HRD Ministry constitutes a smart central team of accomplished people with proven track record to build educational institutions and solve real-world problems in Education sector who could advise the HRD Ministry and lead the way forward.

Since Education is a concurrent subject, the Union HRD Ministry must work out a seamless consulting mechanism to take State Governments on board while framing the New Educational policy. Revenues earned in Education sector must be shared with States. Often the main reason to oppose Union Govt policy is losing State revenues to Center.

Some recommendations often voiced by many experts for the past 3 decades are as under :

Separation of Union HRD Ministry into Ministry of School Education and Ministry of Higher Education is essential.

Subjects like Maths, Science and even Geography and English must have a common curriculum for all the 30+ Boards of the nation from Std.1-12.

Have a Single National ENTRANCE exam for any professional course administered online by a single National exams Authority.

Have a Single National EXIT exam for all undergraduate degrees as there are over 700 Universities and over 35000 colleges in India. Online EXIT exams shall ensure quality delivered in various colleges.

A National Ranking system of Schools and Colleges is very essential. Besides other quality parameters, cut-offs from Entrance exams in various colleges and percentage of students cleared in EXIT exams can become key parameters. Rankings will help students to make informed choices and colleges would strive to maintain standards too. This would increase employability of our graduates.
Govt must upload FREE VIDEO LECTURES of charismatic teachers in all subjects from Std.1-12 and also for key subjects in higher education. These could be made available in the form of flash drives and tablets too. This is the only short-term solution to the grave and central issue of poor teachers in schools and colleges in India. Today PM has requested people to contribute 100 hours a year to teach in nearby schools : a recipe unlikely to materialize though Times Group's TEACH FOR INDIA campaign has yielded fair response in the past 5 years.

India's education market size in 2014-15 is around $100 Billion of which coaching classes and private tuitions comprise 40%. However, Govt has no clear policy or rules for smooth functioning of coaching classes. Govt often looks upon classes as a necessary evil and nothing more. Amazing synergies are possible if Govt gives coaching systems their rightful place in the educational sector. It could influence learning outcomes positively.

Lastly, we need a talented Union HRD Minister who understands the grassroots reality of India's Education sector and could lead the revamp exercise. Revamping India's education sector is a supra-major surgery. Only a seasoned surgeon can execute the job.

If right steps are taken, India can harness the demographic dividend and would catapult her into the next league. Else, we are staring at a demographic disaster with millions of potential unemployables who would wreck chaos in society.

Time to do is now!

Happy Teachers Day!