In the words of Albert Einstein “The only thing that interferes with my learning is education” or in a slightly less subtle quote of Mark Twain “First, God made idiots – that was for practice – then he made school boards”. Please pardon my use of the term “idiot” as I am referring to no one in particular but rather to the monstrous idiocy that is institutionalized with a tight-fisted dogma by a society that has zealously resolved to be backward.
It might be interesting to make note of the term “backward” in the literal sense, meaning that which aspires to run back in time rather than move forward with it. Incidentally, it also gives us a glimmer of understanding into why we follow the model of education that we do? Let us wind the clock back to the time of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. It was the advent of a new strategy in the large scheme of colonialization by the British Empire – to create a system of schooling which will follow a universal curriculum, a standard method of teaching, a gross division of students in batches, departmentalized, time-bound and quality-tested to produce an exact replica of a factory made, assembly-line good. The system would remain the same irrespective of the intellectual capability or need of the student or even their geographic location or economic climate. The only carrot on this sizable stick was the promise of employment at the end of the ordeal – despite the fact that not all students following this regime could possibly hope to get accommodated within that employment criterion. Now why was this? It leads to the only possible answer that the objective of such a system was to produce an intellectually homogeneous social species or an assembly-line good. Now that the era of colonialization is over and we are living under the most dynamic and fast changing economic times in the history of mankind, the question looms larger than ever before – how do we use the education imparted to us to survive and meet the demands of an economic climate that is changing by the day.
As any economist or high school drop-out will tell you, the jobs of today will cease to exist tomorrow. So how are we preparing our children for the future? As a personal example, I know I haven’t benefited from learning X2 + Y2 =? Algebra is a dead science and when I think of all the torture I went through in school to secure pass marks, it makes my blood boil. I mean, really, how has innumerable hours of studying obsolete mathematics and social sciences and not knowing how to apply them and looking into the face of a teacher who would smilingly cut your throat, helped?
Today, we rely on smartphones and internet-enabled devices to guide the way. We literally operate a global library on our fingertips and are swimming in a dangerously high radiation of knowledge exposure via media – what are the chances that we will listen to the textbook interpretation of a 30 year old publication on economic conditions in the 1960’s? I am falling asleep even writing about it. So what should we do? Well here are some statistics – over 25% of the Indian population is still illiterate, only 15% ever reach high-school, and less than 7% graduate – this is despite an investment of over 70 billion dollars in the private sector alone, which accounts for less than 5% of the education market – the remaining 95% depending upon government funding, or the lack of it.
Now, considering the population problem and it’s lame consequent argument, we must drive a critical initiative for skill-development missions on a national scale – at it’s heart lying the crying need for vocational training and not schools where the only education is how to cram.
Image Source : IANS