Traditional Education System : Should We Call it a Day ?

Amit Sharma
Today, we live in an era where kids are loaded with excessive stress and prevailing education system is unfortunately,a main factor for the same. Whenever we talk with them or their families, the response is simple “lot of home-work and school assignments and we all are busy in finishing same”. This reality is basically much more prevalent these days and it becomes a truly funny situation which keeps creating so-much pressure, both on kids (students) as well as their parents. Here the basic question arises : Is the ongoing system of education correct or has the right and ripe time arrived to call it a day? I shall actually share my perspectives on this important question going through the levels of elementary education till the highest levels of education systemwhich are prevalent in our nation as on date.
Let us start with the fundamental or primary levels of education wherein the culture of kids’ tuition has become a norm, which was never ever prevalent in the past decades. What it indicates : is the system of educating pre-primary or primary level kids proper and upto the mark or is there any scope left to improvise and improve the way we groom and educate our kids at the elementary level in India? The answer to it is not so simple, as it seems. Some couple of years back around same time, I happened to attend and lead one of an important session in ‘World Education Summit’ held at Dubai wherein educationists from across the globe were participating. Here, I was pleasantly surprised to explore and understand the European Model wherein, now-a-days,a lot of nations have given-up the traditional elementary education system and the young toddlers are given almost a free-hand to express their interest and once the aptitude of a child is recognized in a particular field, the elementary teachers start grooming that kid in that respective area, be it some sport, music, dance, drama, fine art or even adventure-oriented works. Not only this, the teachers are also ranked or graded for their performances based on the talents they are able to bring out in their small budding students. But it is almost impossible to imagine implementation of this kind of system in our nation, at least, in the current ongoing scenario.
Just to add to the vows at this level, I want to share that the admission process in our existing system in all kinds of private schools other than the Government schools is so cumbersome and a big challenge these days wherein so many criteria are set for admission of kids here and surprisingly, its not actually the kids’ abilities which are tested at the time of admission but it is the parents who are put under lot of tests and interviews,which decide thefate of innocent kids, for admissions in these private schools. I have observed that multiplethings are required such as parents’ educational qualification, parents job / work status, parents income levels, parents family backgrounds, location of the house of kids, parents abilities and skills levels, etc and hardly, any basic content amongst the young toddlers are tested or interviewed before admitting them to schools which is actually very strange.It doesn’t end here and if admitted, it isfollowed by charging of exorbitant high amountsnot less than a ransom-kind from the parents in the form of admission fees, building fees, tuitions fees and what not. This disturbing trend has flourished over last few decades and unfortunately, not much resistance has been seen over it, as a consequence of which, these systems have come under a direct scanner and few parents have moved to Hon’ble Courts to fight it out.
Let’s move further towards level next now which is the matriculation or secondary school education level. This is a very important or rather the most crucial stage in the education journey for the kids. At this level as well, lot of anomalies can be pointed from students point of view wherein adolescent students cross over the primary level of education and head towards attaining secondary school education. The most important thing to be seen here is the kind of education which is imparted at this level, especially post 8th standard. Here, I would like to point out that ICSE Board in India is doing a wonderful job by segregating the subjects and giving an option to the students to undergo specialization, right from 9th standard onwards rather than waiting for finishing 10th standard as a generalist and then initiate the journeytowards choosing specialization subjects. The direct fall-out of this traditional system of teaching all subjects upto matriculation level is that it leaves a deep negative impact and escalates stress-level of the minds of youngsters at this a level and not to forget, we have already started feeling the pinch of same with worst fallouts suicides and depressiondue to high rates of failures prevailing today because of this forced system of studying all the subjects as mandatory subjects till 10th standard in CBSE and almost all the State Boards.
Here, I want to share a positive thing and a ray of hope in the form of a revolutionary person whom I saw and met yesterday namelySonam Wangchukwho hails from union Territory of Ladakh. He is indeed a true mentor and innovator who has devoted his life for the help of those young local kids who are actually unable to clear matriculation level and labelled as failures and have been drop-outs from schools. He has rather opened up a special school with the name SECMOL in Ladakh region so as to help them to become highly successful persons in future. He is also very critical about the existing system of education and he has actively suggested lot of innovations in teaching systems which is prevalent in Ladakh region which has brought out significantly visible results in the form of matriculation pass percentage shooting-up from 5% in 1994 to 75% in 2015. Apart from this, Sonam Wangchuk has also taken so many eco-friendly initiatives like creating Ice Stupas, Solar heated Cow-Sheds, Clay and Natural material based Buildings, etc. A very popular biopic was made recently on him with a fictitious character ‘Phunsog Wangroo’ depicting the wonderful works done by him in the past. Moreover, his initiatives have got recognized and awarded internationallywith the likes of Ramon Magasaysay Award, Rolex Award for Best Enterprise, UNESCO Chair Earthen Award, etc. Honestly, we require more Sonams to bring a holistic change in Indian education system and change the way we groom our young students for the future in our nation.
Now, let’s touch the post-matriculation or higher secondary education system prevalent in the nation. Here, I want to clearly mention that this level has become the most lucrative and commercializedform of current education system wherein Dummy schools are in full bloomas a result of whichFIT-JEE and NEET Coaching Centres are doing a booming business. So many youngsters and their parents are becoming prey to this herd mentality and falling in this false trap and we find that so many of them flaunt in these exams, due to which many of them, head towards a point of no-return in life. Similarly, another strange phenomenon takes place at this levelwhen many students with medical and non-medical backgrounds at higher secondary education level opt for commerce or humanities streams for pursuing graduation in either of these streams, which actually does not help them much.They rather land here just as a fluke with the hope forbuilding careers in Civil Services or other similarly-situated Competitive Exams. Here, I believe that much emphasis should be laid upon mentoring and grooming young minds at the elementary levels so that they don’t wander later looking for A, B or C career options just to finish the formality of attaining higher degrees or highest levels of education like post-graduation or even Ph.Ds and later not even pursuing careers in their basic subjects of education which also leaves a big question mark on the prevalent or existing education system.
So, I believe it is a high time we need to introspect and at least ponder over these burning issues so as to make the process of attaining education, a meaningful one, having practical relevance and future utility. Moreover, we should also come out of the syndrome of pushing our kids to the wall of attaining education only and not getting groomed in other areas (even if they tend to possess a strong potential for same) such as sports, fine arts, analytics, physical activities, mental sharpness or related fields, right from the early formative stages so that when they grow-up, they become master of their respective favouritefields, as per the grooming and aptitudes they have built over the years. This is the reason for a successful model prevalent in the Western world since long which has produced so many champions in respective fields in past so many decades and they have indeed proven to the world with real definition of ‘development’ which is through building and grooming of the right aptitude amongst the right kinds of kids with the right kind of education system prevalent in those nations.
Hope, some lessons can be drawn with few questionsraised here and the areas which have been touched here and we can work seriously in future towards overhauling the existing education system so that at least our future generations can be saved from the agony and ill-effects of the existing system of grooming our younger generations which has almost become obsolete and redundant in today’s highly competitive world. I am pretty sure that we shall see phenomenal changes in it in the coming years with so many thinking minds realizing same and contemplating over it in the same manner and contributing with a ‘difference’ for bringing the best out of our younger generations in the same manner, like this thought-sharing done through this modest attempt of mine!
(The writer is a Senior JKAS Officer and presently working as Special Secretary to Government. He can be reached at