Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Primary Education in India Needs a Fix and other stories

Primary Education in India Needs a Fix
by Sriram Balasubramanian

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranks India almost at the bottom of the pack in terms of maths and English literacy

When Devanik Saha started teaching in 2011, Nishika was three years behind her grade level. Despite numerous assignments and standardised tests over two academic years, she made only a tiny progress of 0.7 years (about eight-and-a-half months) in maths and 0.5 years (six months) in English. 

“She was never taught properly in school due to lack of invested teachers,” says Saha who teaches maths, English and science at Pratibha Nigam Vidyalaya, a public school in Delhi. “The progress, although tiny, is not a measure of her true abilities and potential, which I believe is in arts.”

There are other students in the school run by the city municipal corporation who made big jumps of 1.6 years (about a year and seven months) or 1.9 years (a year and almost 11 months) but Saha doubts the quality of education they get. He calls it more a training to do well in skewed assessments rather than instilling conceptual understanding. “The focus is on procedural fluency to raise their scores, which leads to curriculum deformation,” says Saha, who describes the school as one of the most “unfortunate” with no infrastructure, not even proper toilets for the 1,500 girls who study there.

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Thanks to the proliferation of corporate schools in the country,the primary education has lost its value. Here are very interesting comments on the subject by Jayanta Chatterjee: 

“The quality of education being imparted in Indian schools has proved to be far below average in an international rating system for schools from 74 countries. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), introduced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), is an internationally standardized test that tests 15- year-olds in the domains of reading, mathematical science and science literacy10. India’s debut at the PISA included about 16,000 15-year-olds from schools in Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu, often lauded for its work in the education sector, has done only marginally better than Himachal Pradesh and ranks way below the average OECD score on all counts. Himachal Pradesh was at the very bottom of the list whereas Tamil Nadu ranked near the bottom

in all categories, outscoring only Kyrgyzstan and Himachal Pradesh. The Annual Status of Education Report for 2009, compiled by Delhi-based nongovernmental organization (NGO), Pratham Foundation, has revealed that nearly 65% of class five students in rural areas of Tamil Nadu cannot read even a class II textbook in their mother tongue, 45% do not know subtraction and nearly 81% cannot read simple English sentences. The situation deteriorated even further in 2011. Another rather surprising trend in the same survey indicates that government schools perform better than expensive private schools, at least in rural India. Here we need to keep in mind that about 72.1% of Indian students attend government schools, whereas 25.6% go to private schools.

With a literacy rate of 75.6%, India compares poorly with not just industrialized nations, but also several much poorer economies such as Iraq (78.1%), Congo (81.1%), Kenya (84.2%), Vietnam (92.8%), Sri Lanka (94.2%) and Mongolia (97.5%). India now ranks 78th out of 123 countries, in terms of literacy, according to UNDP report (2011). India’s human development index is now ranked 134th out of 187 countries. We need to remember that there are clear differences among the terminology – literacy, education, knowledge and wisdom. Though some Indian policymakers wish to create a knowledge-based economy, in reality, India is stuck at the first phase itself, i.e. literacy(Primary and secondary education reform should be the top priority for India, Jayanta Chatterjee, CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 4, 25 AUGUST 2012)”. 

In our school days there used to be classes in Moral Education,Craft,Scouts and Guides. These need to be revived.
Here Mahatma Gandhiji’s views on Primary Education are still relevant today. 

Nothing turns out right so long as there is no harmony between body, mind, and soul.

— M.K. Gandhi

(a) to apply a holistic approach to the education of our pupils. The holistic approach, which is derived from the noble Vedantic dictum tat tvam asi — oneness of life — should be reflected in the methods and methodology of the school;

(b) to bring out and foster all the potential in the child and help it express these through ahimsic channels; and

(c) to make school a happy adventure of discovery for the child.

Gandhiji advocated for free and compulsory education for all-boys and girls between 7 and 14 years. Education should be imparted in primary level in the student's mother tongue. A free primary universal education is to be imparted to all the children in the village. This will make the backbone of a country strong.

Place of vocational education:

A love for manual work will be injected in the mind of children. This is not a compulsion but the child will learn it by doing. Being free from mere bookish knowledge, a student should resort to manual work. He, thus, put emphasis on vocational and functional education.

“Earning while learning” was the motto of this education. This wills increase the creativity in a student. As Gandhi wanted to make Indian village’s self-sufficient units, he emphasised that vocational education should increase the efficiency within the students who will make the village as self-sufficient units.

Emphasis on morality:

By education, Gandhi meant the improvement of morality within a student. Without being bookish, a student should adopt certain moral ethical codes like truth, nonviolence, charity and so on which will illumine his character. Thus a character building through education was a prime concern for Gandhi.

Non-participation in politics:

Gandhiji wanted to keep the students away from politics. If students will participate in politics, they will be pawn at the hands of the politicians who will utilize them for fulfilling their desire. This will hamper the development of a student and his education will suffer a setback. So, he advised the students to keep themselves completely away from politics.

Innovate to Keep Pace with Dynamism

The world of today has become far more dynamic than ever before. The world economy has gradually shifted from industrial economy to an information-technology based economy. Success in today’s economy is volatile, transient and the span of success has shortened dramatically. There are stories of over-night billionaires such as Facebook, movies become box office success or flop within a week and cricket matches are now played in 20/20 format. 

Everything in organizations is becoming obsolete with shocking speed if not managed. Products, services and strategies need to be managed for change, faster all the time. Life expectancy is shrinking.

One of my client very aptly describes the market condition and its impact – given the level of dynamism of markets today, we need to learn the art of white water rafting to thrive.

How do we keep pace with such level of dynamism?
Facing any adversity requires mental strength, and being able to rise above such fast moving changes demands a high level of mental equanimity and emotional control. Mental equanimity and strength can be built through various practices such as awareness of thoughts to control the quality and direction of thoughts and conserve internal energy.

Additionally, to stay in the line of competition, there is a need to innovate and recreate pro-actively. Apple has been one of the finest examples of innovation and creativity. Steve Jobs, fearless visionary, transformed one industry after another, from computers and smartphones to music and movies. Having being fired from Apple, he was free from the need for acceptance. When he re-entered Apple, Jobs fearlessly accessed and listened to his intuition to create, innovate and deliver perfection to the consumer.

When I made a transition to being a coach from a chartered accountant, I had to undertake a major exercise in ‘self-innovation’. To coach clients of different personalities, different domain expertize, there was a need to stretch and grow as a leader of my life. I realized I had various strengths that were under-utilized, values that I hesitated to assert, fears that restricted me from exploring my skills. Coaching is the science of thoughts – science and thoughts – two words that unite logic and emotions. Successful leaders in organizations need to be like coaches at all times - logical and creative while sharing knowledge and compassionate and intuitive while listening. “Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.” Deepak Chopra

For Full Article: http://forbesindia.com/article/column/innovate-to-keep-pace-with-dynamism/35305/1

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh
Innovate or Perish -- is the Mantra in Industry today.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.
    Hbse 10th result

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


  3. Thank you for sharing such great information. can you help me in finding out more detail on  top schools in sector 57

  4. Thank you for sharing such great information. It has help me in finding out more detail about Study Loan In India