School system in India is characterized with specific subjects and organized syllabus. There is no doubt that India has made significant progress in recent years in terms of recognizing the importance of Education, focusing on expansion of education and improving the quality of education. Lot of effort is being put into bringing the children of all sections of the society to school which is evident in the number of children enrolled for primary school.
However, records show that there is a sharp fall as we go to higher classes. Steep dropout rates after the elementary level and also at the middle school level and the increasing enrollment gap from elementary to higher secondary are matters of great concern.
Apart from this the quality of education imparted is also a serious concern. The 2011 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) stated that “only 48.2% of students in the fifth grade can read at the second grade level”. So there are children who complete their primary education but still struggle to read and write and develop numeracy skills. This is a sad but shocking truth of Indian education system.
The situation in privately run schools is definitely better and there is considerable number of English speaking urban elite schools but vast majority of Indian children goes to government-run rural schools.
Even in the private English schools the focus is on making children read, write, memorize and solve theoretical text book problems. They are taught on ways to crack IITs or IIMs exam. However, little or no effort is directed in developing the skills or helping children gain ability. It is more about memorizing than learning. Our system is too much information-oriented due to which there is little or no scope for creativity, inventions and self learning. Leacock once said, ‘parrots would pass the examination of our time better than men. It is the one who has a sharp memory that will make the highest score, though he may forget everything just the following morning’. The focus is only on passing and excelling in the examination. The importance of gaining knowledge takes a back seat.
So what is the outcome of the education system? Sorrowfully sometimes, it is zero. A student who passed the examination with great scores often cannot retain anything out of their education to help them practically. When the times come to test their knowledge and to perform actual work, they still need lot of shaping up and assistance. Hence, students feel that whatever they learnt in school or college is hardly utilized in real life.
India’s education system has a long way to go. It has not been able to achieve strong learning outcomes. Among the key reasons is the poor teaching quality which in turn can be due to various factors. Another major factor is that India has a highly bureaucratic administrative system. School Leaders, Policy Makers, and Politian’s have different views on learning outcomes. Education in India has improved significantly as compared to earlier times. But we have a long way to go to measure real learning outcomes.