Five major reforms in school education system:
a. There is no focus on inspired teachers at any level in the education system.
One can find hundred faults with the system and many of these are genuine. But, unless we build upon what is good in our system, there is no major hope of large scale change. You can ask any achiever in our society about his/her life and it is inevitable that one or the other teacher inspired that achiever or mentored her journey. Why then there should be no catalogue of such teachers in different disciplines, institutions, levels [ranging from school to college] in the country. Unless we learn to celebrate goodness of any system, we cannot generate positive energy for long term reform from within.
b. Time and again, we have been asked by children as to why should they excel in all subjects when they are interested only in a few. Could not we allow children to move ahead in their life if they achieve excellence in a few subjects and are average or below average in the rest. Extraordinary breakthroughs can be achieved by people who devote single-minded attention to what they enjoy. We must stop mass producing mainly mediocres.
c. Knowledge of English is often confused, systematically and strategically with merit. No competitive exam should judge analytical ability or other such intelligence quotients only in English language. The vocabulary of English language should not be a consideration for merit. Satisfactory knowledge should be sufficient. This is a competence, which can be easily enhanced. Thus a lot of students coming from rural backgrounds with families in which none of the parents are good in English will not have to suffer for no fault of theirs.
d. The multimedia, multi language open source tools for learning in local languages should be made available in every primary school in the next three years. Indian advantage in IT sector has made no practical difference to the quality of education in the country. One can try to search on the web the animated description of various astronomical or biological or mathematical phenomena and one might draw blank. This is shame. We should have a time bound plan to prepare such materials through inspired teachers and make these available to every school.
e. There should be no homework for the children. Many first generation learners having illiterate parents drop out because there is nobody at home to help with the homework. Whatever self-preparation is required should be done in the school itself.
f. The teachers’ federation should be brought on table to demolish the transfer industry. This is one industry, which empowers politicians and punishes honest and sincere teachers who have no clout. India is perhaps the only country where a person can become inspector of schools without ever teaching a class. Such structural weaknesses of our education system must be eliminated all at a time. There is no need to overcome these problems one by one. The peer learning among children and teachers is one of the best way of learning. And yet, it is rare that inspired teachers are encouraged to share their knowledge, skills and perspectives with other teachers. Innovations by primary school teachers have been studied by Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand at IIMA in five states, such studies need to be expanded all over the country. One should be able to find such innovations at a click of a button.
A lot more can be said about the contempt with which Indian government looks at the government schools and colleges in villages and cities. Unless the children of the government servants and ministers compulsorily get education in these institutions, there is no future for these institutions. If the government believes in transparency, accountability and social inclusion, it should make it obligatory for the children of all public servants [class I and above] and policy makers to put their children in public institutions ( government schools). Anil K Gupta