WHENEVER I SAY (and it is quite often) that there is no unemployment in India but most people are “unemployable”, I get angry rebuttals or derisive laughter.
But I still hold it is true. Most school students do not know what they want to be. A very large number of people see employment as just an accident. An extremely large number of people do not enjoy what they are doing. Those who want to be singers or writers or painters end up as doctors or engineers. Being a player or an athlete was, till recently, never an option – all play “is a waste of time; it will not feed you.”
Brilliant could-have-been architects would be poring over accounts and those who could have made excellent doctors would be…. We can go on and on. There are too many square pegs in round holes. And the main reason for this sorry state of things is our education system.
One of the worst failures of the country, whichever party is in power, is in the field of
The new HRD minister, Prakash Jawadekar. has been announcing one change in the system after another… as if it is the prerogative of whoever is in power to use the future generation of India as guinea pigs to experiment with, just because his predecessors did.
The last seven decades have seen so many changes in the education system. The 1st to Sixth ‘form’ of school has been changed and the 10+3 pattern ushered in.
One minister says there should be no exams till 10th. The primary, middle and high school board exams were scrapped. Another comes and revives them. From marks we go to grades and back again.
The exam system, instead of developing skills and knowledge promoted just mnemonics – the system of learning by rote with just memorizing, rather than understanding. Those who evaluate examination papers do so purely subjectively. The marks they give depend on their own outdated knowledge (if they are sincere, their mood or their frustration with life. A teacher’s quarrel with his determines the students’ future.
The result of Macaulay’s system of education is that today we have lakhs of uneducated graduates. Saying this has become a clitche.
Artisans shun sending children to schools as completing matriculation graduation would mean they abandoning traditional occupations and migrating to cities, as they prefer to be peons in offices than being carpenters, blacksmiths or potters. And these tasks would be performed by those who fail to get a ‘government jobs’ and curse their fate.
There is hue and cry about unemployment while the truth is most of those who complete education are “unemployable”. Most see jobs as government jobs – to get salary without working. That lowers their self-esteem and confidence. And embitters their attitides.
We are proud that many CEOs of top US firms like Microsoft & Google are Indians. It
has not occurred to anyone that we ust produce servants for them. The IITs and Bangalore’s IISc have contributed little to innovations, discoveries or great enterprises;
Earlier, after 10th class board examination we had Intermediate.Then Preuniversity and prepro-fessional courses came, with major and minor subjects at degree level. This is now history. Vocational schools came and vanished and Intermediate came back again.
Years ago former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao as HRD Minister went to the Indian Institute of English& Foreign Languages (IIEFL). He went in time, as I too did, and the meeting was yet to begin. So I was with the IIEFL director and the minister and knowing that PV had learnt Spanish in a few months, I mentiopned it.
Then PV said that English, made compulsory from KG till PG level, was a burden on students. Those who ‘study in English medium’ cannot write in their own monthertoungue or even a sentence in English without mistakes.
Why not develop a 4-5 year compulsory “functional English” course? If some students are interested they can study English literature but all will know enough English for jobs. They can focus on other subjects and learn better once the functional English course is over.
The IIEFL director was all praise for the idea. Almost foiur decades have gone by and yet nothing has been done. Lakhs of bright rural students coninue to fail just because of English. Many careers are ruined.
Industry-Institute-Interation (III) is talked of at seninars and group discussions, but no action has been taken. Have you heard of anyone in India working for some years in an industry and then going to a university or college to teach? Or a college teacher going to a industry to resolve its problems?
All new invntions, discoveries and innovatios should come from universities as they do in all developed countries. In India they never do. Government laboratories do invent or discover, but these hardly ever reach the industries mfor lack of bench-scale models or pilot projects. Industry imports technology from abroad, payiong huge royalties – often for outdated technology or fsiled processes.
Research has become a farce. Methodology, bulk of the thesis and number of footnotes matter more than finding something new. Most research is useless.
Leaders swear by mother tongue but send their kids to English medium schools or to US and brilliant people from small towns end up as clerks or peons. Language education is still a big controversy. Jawaharlal Nehru’s three-language firmula was a great idea.
When and why was it scrapped?
Many leaders from South speak excellent Hindi and all others have working knowledge of it. But North is more close to Pakistan than to South as all South Indian languages are just ‘Madrasi’ to them. Very very few there know one southern language from the other.
Talk of reforms will lead to a bout of mutual incirimnation. The blame game will start. It is time for all parties to sit together to evolve a national education policy.
60 years of journalism, from the age of 16, and two books later, life has so much more to offer, there is no looking back. Not yet. Unstoppable after 70 is a simple expression of my thoughts, my triumphs, my failures and everything that makes this journey incredible.
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View all posts by B. Someswar Rao