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WHY INDIA NEEDS TO CHANGE ITS ATTITUDE TOWARDS EDUCATION

“Education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion; is it worth the name? - Swami Vivekananda."

Now is probably the best time to reflect upon these words which Swami Vivekananda spoke decades ago. President Pranab Mukherjee recently raised concern on the fact that none of the Indian universities or colleges have made a mark in the global rankings of top educational institutions. This isn't necessarily a race, but if it was, we as a country are left far behind.

According to a report by the UNESCO, if we were to go by the current trend, it could take us another half century to achieve global education commitments. This means that we are way behind on our deadline to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) deadline. One of the goals of the SDGs is to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.

On account of International Teachers' Day, we spoke to a few teachers and got their insights on the Indian Education System. Emmanuel Ratnaraj, the Principal of the Shishya Public School in Dehradun, insists that the education system needs to steer away from the traditional method of teaching as soon as possible.

"The global education system has marched way ahead compared to other countries, but our educational systems have seen no change and we are bound to follow the same old ground rules," he told Jaago Re.

His own approach towards education is a little different. He said, "At our school, we have a different way of teaching. We don't teach ABCDs. A is never the first thing a kid learns. They start by learning how the alphabets sound. We talk about sonics. They are taught how the alphabets would sound, and then move on to learning how to write. It makes the learning process easier. It makes their ability to pronounce and learn newer words better."

While this approach is not always understood or appreciated by guardians, Mr. Ratnaraj and his team look at it as a challenge that they are more than happy to take on.

"We need to realise that we are lacking behind. Our engineers and doctors do really well and that pushes us to believe that our education system needs no change. But, it is really important to realise that we can't boast about what we are. If that is the case, there is no moving forward."

Nevi Koshy has been a part of the Indian Education System for a while now, as a student and as a teacher. He also spent 6 months last year teaching students in a village in Dehradun. He felt that our system falls behind on concept and practical aspects of the teaching-learning experience.

"Our education system revolves around exams instead of understanding the concept and hence the students who come out of our system are most of the time unemployable. The mindset in the society needs to change. Education should be about enjoying what you study, not getting a job, or securing a degree just for namesake."

Education is the primary means to shape young minds into productive and responsible individuals, and only a handful of schools strive to work alongside the community to help achieve this.

How do you think we as a community should move forward in changing our attitude towards education, and how can we realise these changes? Share your views and questions with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages or email at jaagorein@gmail.com

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