How to fix india’s flawed education system

Posted by | October 02, 2013 | Issues in India | 9 Comments

Before I come to the point, let me tell you where this post is coming from:

  • In my MBA program at least half of the subjects were same as I studied in my graduation, in fact for some the recommended books were of the same authors. It was during this phase I could compare the quality of teachers, the teaching methodologies and what dramatic effect these two can have on the learning.
  • Later I enrolled myself in one of the toughest finance courses in the world- Chartered Financial Analyst, USA. This is a self-study program where only the content is provided to the candidates and they have to appear for exams. During my three years journey, I never felt any need for classroom coaching. Why? It is because of the quality of the content, which is prepared by practicing finance professionals and is updated every year. It contains all relevant concepts along with supporting data, recent examples and current trends in the industry.
  • Finally, by virtue of being part of strategy team in an online education company, I get to interact with lot of industry veterans. What I gather from them about our system is nothing to be proud of. It’s hard to find a student today who doesn’t go to coaching? Isn’t it shameful? Isn’t it a question mark on the competence of not only the teachers but also the credibility of entire education system?

What the hell is wrong with our education system?

Well the first and foremost issue with our system is quality of our teachers. Just think about all the 40/50 teachers you would have encountered in your student life or just think about all your tuition teachers and friends/family who are into teaching. How many of them dreamt of becoming teachers? How many of them look passionate about what they are doing?

Please pause here and think!

May be just one or two, right?

Why is that most teachers in our country are female? Because this is one of those few jobs where they can maintain work-life balance (Sadly banking is no more a half day job). Did they dream of it as a career? Are they into teaching out of passion? Sadly for most of them the answer is NO.

Then the other problem is with content. I fail to understand why does it take ages to update content. There is huge disconnect between what industry needs and what is being taught. For instance, in finance (for IPO) we are still taught how a company receives share application money followed by allotment money, first call and finally second call. It’s been ages since companies stopped raising money in tranches, it all happens at once now. I haven’t seen any company raising money like this, so then why are spending tons of time understanding how it’s treated in books of accounts?

I can go on and on regarding the issues in our educational system and the unfortunate outcomes of it, however I want to keep this post short. So, I would jump to THREE measures the system must take to rectify the very root cause of the entire gamut of problems:

1). Make the entrance exam for teacher’s job tough. One should look up to people who are able to crack these exams like we do for IAS/CAT. People should be planning well in advance about their teaching career rather than it being the last resort. It’s a job that carries high degree of responsibility. You not only need to be a great academician but have good soft skills to handle students. It’s an art after all.

2). Give the goddamn profession the respect it deserves. It looks like the guru culture is history now. Look at how teachers are treated- parents come running to school/college if their ward is being shouted at, principals create constant pressure to distribute marks to improve results (No wonder at 94% you cant get into North Campus College). Nobody shows respect towards teachers, neither the parents nor the students. Implementing point 1 will help achieve this to a great extent.

3). Improve the pay scale for the profession. Would you dream of a career, which on an average pays 15-20k to a fresher? It should at least be at par with an entry-level corporate job, like a PSU bank pays 40k to a Scale I manager (entry-level position). Many would stop teaching the same school kids in evening coaching which they do for extra income. Watch Rishi Kapoor’s Do Dooni Chaar, and you would know what I am talking about. That is the kind of life an average teacher lives in our country. So if we want to attract the best, rewards should be slightly higher.

I know India needs lot of teachers and adopting these measures would reduce their supply in the short-medium term. But look at the bright side of it; over time only those who are really passionate about teaching would get into it. The future of our country, the kids, would not be in some random hands but trained and competent professionals.

9 Comments

  • Darpan gandotra says:

    But i wonder how long it wld take 2 implemnt all of the above on our so called educational system..!!

  • Dev says:

    dude education system is owned by business men and politicians not by educationists thr lies the problem businessman invests money to get more not to provide education u can easily grab a franchisee of any reputed institiution/school by spending a few crore rupees. they will pay meagre salaries to teaching staff to keep their profits high and expenses low

  • sandeep kalra says:

    I really appreciate this content..

    Just to add on this,Focus should be more on workshop and practical content delivery rather than teacher coming in class and reading out books.This might decrease the gap between industry expectation and academic system..

    Like in MBA,6 months of rigorous industry training will help unlike current 2 months of so called “Internship”

  • Sourav Gupta says:

    “Thanks Jatin for reminding us of this problem which needs everyone attention. You have combined the problem and example in a good, easy to understand manner! Wish to hear from you often :-)

    I will be writing about an incident related to career as a ‘Teacher’.

    I am going back to year 2009, when i was completing my Engineering (bachelors) degree and there was only a month left to see those beautiful corridors, huge laboratories and my dearest friends. I could also see my friends getting proud of Company logos on their ‘offer letters’, Letters from premier B Schools and some did not get tired praising their family business. I was no different as i too wanted a safe career first and then rest of the things.
    But among these, one was dreaming something else which probably no one ever dreamt (leave dreams, no one thought also). He was one of the good student in the class and never showed any sign of depression whenever his name did not flash in the company’s ‘Selected students’ list.

    I am mentioning about my good friend (Shivendra) who was dreaming of the profession ‘Teaching’. I still remember when he first told me about his aspiration and i laughed like a monkey who has just humiliated a passerby. He felt bad and to add more salt i gave him Study materials to crack placement interviews in the college. He understood and would hardly discuss more on this with anyone. He scored a perfect 8 in the degree (which was remarkable) and parted with me carrying aspiration of becoming a good professor.
    Today, after completing his Masters in Technology, he is pursuing PhD in a prestigious institute and also teaching Engineering students simultaneously. Whenever we get a chance to talk he sounds like a kid who has just been given a bunch of comics – the aspiration to do more.

    Now why i went back and remembered my laughs when my friend told me about his aspiration to become a Professor. There are multiple reasons for this and alongside i agree with Jatin in all his points. I am just putting this in another way. And only highlighting the problems in the system.

    1) Sorry state of Professor/Teachers worldwide (not only in India) in terms of wages : While i am writing this, i just saw the news on Tv about Teachers protesting for more than 40 days in Rio (Brazil) for a Pay hike. Why they are seen as just enablers but not as drivers in our society?

    2) People like me who still thinks that this profession is a waste

    3) No action on those corrupted, misguiding and incompetent people in this profession

    4) In my country Sportsperson and netas are highly regarded/respected but not the knowledge maker, Scientists and Researchers.

    5) Sorry state of Education temples where its all about money business rather knowledge business.

    And Last but not the least , we need to support/encourage more Shivendra to pursue Teacher-ship.

    The list is endless but we need to pause and think what are we passing to our next generation.

    Thank you.

  • mohil says:

    Jatin you have covered the issues of Educational system… But we have to think of millions of people who cannot afford the standards. You can increase the standards of education but it will lead to increase in the cost as well. Again its going to taken from the students. This is not a holistic view. You can see the branded colleges maximum have students who are from rich and middle class families but we need to improve the standard of the lower class. There are so many problems involved before the system even thinks about your points.

    This is what i feel :)

  • Jatin – A short and apt write up stating the dismal state of affairs in terms of education in India. But I would like to highlight certain key points.
    The size and population of India is so huge that the government is unable to provide education to all, so leave alone quality education.
    The criteria for being a literate person in India is one who can read and sign in any one language. So this is what rural people strive for.
    The affordability is also one factor – The cost to provide quality education is very high. Just take the example of fees of some private colleges schools etc. Who can afford Doon School etc.

    I was privileged enough to study in best school of my city and I still remember the infrastructure which we had cannot be compared to second best school but when the fees of the school was raised by the management, there was such a hue and cry in the city that local media, police, labour unions etc got involved in fixing the issues.

    The suggestions given by you is valid but it very much difficult to implement in India.

    Nevertheless there should be an attempt to fix the issues and I think government is doing a pretty decent job taking into the consideration the recent educational reforms.

    Lets hope for the best.

  • devika says:

    Very true and correct!
    Focus should also be on practical learning than only theory!

  • Isha Sharma says:

    Great post Jatin! I totally agree with the solutions. There is an urgent need to incentivize people in the profession and also those looking forward to join.

  • “Madness over salaries is the worst thing we have done in India. The most critical element in education is teachers and we pay them extremely poorly and treat them with utter disrespect” says Ajit Rangnekar, Dean, Indian School of Business

    http://www.business-standard.com/article/management/madness-over-salaries-is-the-worst-thing-we-have-done-in-india-ajit-rangnekar-113121800759_1.html

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