Educating India needs careful planning

Col Balwant Singh (Retd)
On 15th of August this year we will be celebrating 75th Independence day as on this day in 1947 we achieved independence from 200 years of foreign rule over our country.
We have come a long way as an independent nation and now called a developing economy but due to slow pace of development our country have features of an underdeveloped economy like low per capita income, low standards of living, massive population growth, unemployment and poor quality of human capital. On introspection of the development we have achieved in the various fields, we find ourselves lagging much behind of our set targets and the foremost reasons for this uneven and slow advancement are the planning and implementation constraints especially in the field of educational development. Education is the basic tool through which knowledge passes from generation to generation and new mile stones are achieved for the holistic development of a nation.
We are seeing the third generation since independence, but we have achieved only approx 77.7 percent literacy rate in our country and there exists a wider rural urban gap as well as inept male female literacy ratio. The successive Governments formulated policies to promote education and the first National policy of education 1968 based on Kothari commission recommendations emphasized more on free and compulsory education and equalisation of educational opportunities and the National policy on education 1986 was aimed at universalization of primary education, Vocationalisation of secondary education and specialisation of higher education but very basic aim of providing free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 is yet to be achieved. The vision envisaged in the NEPs could not become a reality due to lack of will power and strenuous approach as well as mismatching of the policy provisions with existing Indian conditions on ground.
The educational utopians while formulating the policies worked from their tight offices only and included recommendations in the draft policy without any prejudice to the ground realities. Bigger claims in the policies more suited to the urban conditions only whereas the same must have touched the basics in the rural area education also and study groups formed for the purpose must have visited the remotest of rural areas to ascertain the existing conditions of the inhabitants and infrastructure available to include suitable provisions in the policy, implementable in these far flung areas with less facilities whatsoever. Main focus of education system has always been on urban clusters but if country has to actually develop educationally, urban and rural development has to go hand in hand. It is always said that real India lives in villages but decent centres of learning are still to come up in villages and students from villages con’t afford to study in institutions situated in cities due to financial and various other constraints. The administrative and academic functioning of the government schools in rural areas is apathetic due to lack of infrastructure and missing of the teaching passion.
These schools are also digitally ill-equipped with no computer labs whatsoever. Basic computing skill has to be taught to students studying in Government schools to bring them at par to some extent with urban digital India. The training of the teachers at regular intervals must be ensured to update them with ever changing scenario in the field of education especially the rapid changing technology and its proliferation for modern techniques of teaching by creating smart class rooms equipped with audio visual aids to teach children in the countryside. We are completing 74 long years since independence but still there has been massive drop out trends at the secondary stage of education due to the fact that slow learners in the class are not taken care of and once they lag behind the fast learning students, tend to give up and finally drop out from the school and become a liability instead becoming an asset to the society. The parents also need to be educated about the different career options available now a days otherwise they force their children to study a stream of not their choice and ultimately when a child does not excel and upon failing to meet the expectations of his parents, suffer from undue depression and anxiety which is the major reason for highest number of academic related suicides with every passing year. Then reservation policy has also adversary affected our educational system as best of the opportunities are given to the reserved categories at the cost of those who actually deserve but misses out on many opportunities. Beside personal loss to the individuals it has resulted in best of the talent go waste or brain drain from the whole country thereby fostering massive loss to nation’s economy.The independence was achieved with years of struggle and many of the great sons of mother India made supreme sacrifices but somewhere our education system still misses out on the teaching of patriotism in the educational institutions.
National symbols, emblem, motto, anthem and national song many of even higher classes students are unable to narrate correctly. Nation first always and forever must have to be the Mantra to create a forceful patriotic society to serve the nation with all the might, dedication and devotion. As an independent nation we have moved over a longer distance but still there have been different curriculums, syllabi, books and chapters and different standards of imparting knowledge whereas UPSC has the same syllabus country wide to secure a job under central pool of services.
We must have achieved qualitative improvement in the field of education by enacting the same curriculum by National Council of Educational Research and Training and implemented the same country wide to ensure same standard of acquiring knowledge and equal opportunities which could have ensured unity in diversity and enforced national integration.Recently with the separate Education ministry coming into power and formulation of New education policy 2020 is a welcome initiative by the Government but at the implementation level it has its own challenges. NEP 2020 speaks of making India a global knowledge super power by providing high quality education but in many of the schools in rural belts, the existing infrastructure is quite inadequate with negligible teaching facilities whatsoever. In many of inaccessible rural areas students have no access to even the basic computing, learning gadgets or smart phones to ensure undisrupted learning byexploiting fast changing technology as claimed in the NEP 2020. The way forward to put the well structured education system into practice according to the policy objective will need careful planning to counter the numerous challenges with a flexible approach to effect improvements in the policy where required to realise the dream of a educationally well developed and knowledgent India.