The recent suicide of an 18-year-old engineering student in Kerala strikes us yet again with the archaic question, when will our education system stop failing us as a society? India is the only country in the world with 65% of population below the age of 35, but it also ranks among the top in the world for highest suicide rate among people aged between 15-29 years. A large proportion of these occur due to poor academic performance and fear of failure.

Fugitive education system

Our education setup focuses too much on academic curriculum and performance on set parameters without generating an interest in students for learning and developing. Our tests are designed to measure the retention power of students, rather than boosting their imagination, creativity and interests. A study revealed that around 47% of all graduates in India are not employable, and a whopping 90% of engineering students lacked the skills to be deemed employable. Nearly 84% of our graduates do not have the cognitive ability to make it to a decent job. Why are we so interested in building a country full of rote learners and forgetting the most valuable skills like personal growth, logical thinking, etc. that make up a person’s personality? Isn’t it high time we focus more on the practicality of any subject and less on reiterating the same theoretical knowledge again and again and again like human robots? (This is not the robotic future we have envisioned.)

Is education being way too commercialized?

The private institutes look at students as money-making opportunities and even force students to look at education from the perspective of making a lucrative career. The regulators and policymakers are at equal fault in creating a failed system. Reservation based quotas in institutes have also done more harm than good by making it extremely difficult for meritorious students to get into prestigious institutes owing to few seats. Poor infrastructure of public schools forces parents to burn a hole in their pockets paying the exorbitant fees of private schools. Another dilemma faced by the young minds and their parents is the choice of various boards our country has going on for it. Who is to decide CBSE is better than State Board or an ICSE student will be more well-rounded as compared to a CBSE or State Board student? These are things you only know with first-hand experience and something as valuable as one’s education should not be used to play a game of Guess in this arena. There are some highs and some lows in each, respective system of education, but the Government should come up with one firm body that is the perfect culmination of all three in theory, practicality and teaching the life skills to students that turn them into safe and sound, respectable individuals. In a country where a large number of population is still fighting for their right to education and due to the underlying difference in the urban and rural population, we need to focus on upbringing the rural population in a better manner in concerns with their lack of awareness in education and assisting them with proper facilities so as to bridge the gap with nothing but knowledge.

It’s time we learn something sensible from the west

We should learn from education systems of countries like Finland, Singapore and Canada where the emphasis is on providing holistic development of a child, and teacher selection and training is extremely efficient. Children should be encouraged to pursue subjects and interests of their own choice and alternate careers like arts should be treated with respect in the society. We also need to start thinking freely as a country and let go of the “Log Kya Kahenge?” ideologies we follow in our daily lives and realize the importance of passion, nature and knowledge and how it’s perfect combination will lead to a happy life for all those involved. Emphasis on group activities and moral education should be high. The government should interfere more in the working of private institutions by regulating fees and overhead expenses, and also framing policies that put less pressure on students. Only then can we expect a breed of young, created, motivated yet virtuous individuals that the country needs today.