Is Theoretical Knowledge enough?

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Aarush had a master’s degree in automobile engineering and worked on a high post in a reputed organization. One day, on his way to the office, his car stopped working and he got off to investigate the problem. With his high qualification and expertise in the area, he examined each part of the car carefully but couldn’t find any fault. After a while, a peasant who was passing asked him, “What’s the matter?”

 He answered, “Well, something is wrong with the car.”

The peasant replied,” Did you check the tank? Perhaps there is no petrol.”

The peasant was right.

This is what might happen when theoretical knowledge is not supported by practical knowledge.

PRACTICAL VS THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE 

Theory teaches us the “why” factor associated with an event or situation while practical teaches us “how” to apply the concept in real life. Practical knowledge is necessary to promote experiential learning and to increase our confidence. The best part of practical knowledge is whatever we learn through the practical way this knowledge remains in our brain for a long period. 

If there is a question regarding which is a better way to learn practical or theory? There might be different opinions related to it but in my perspective a blend of theoretical and practical knowledge is a must. 

The world is progressing day by day, and we are getting more and more modernized every day which demands a lot of changes from some previous conventional techniques that were followed. Rapid changes in work life, society and information technology have increased the demands for experts in every field. Today the need for expert professionals is increasing, who are expected to have good knowledge, excellent social and communication skills and who are able to utilize their skills in a positive way in life. And this all is possible only if we acquire practical knowledge along with the theoretical stuff. 

No matter how qualified we are, practical knowledge and our personal experience teaches us a lot more than those thick books. Do you remember learning trigonometry, physics concepts, author names and all those bookish knowledge which we never used in real life? Stop following the bookish language blindly. Remember Chatur’s famous speech in 3 Idiots? The one where Rancho changes the words. Chatur is so driven to impress people that he doesn’t bother finding out the real meaning of those words before mugging them up. And well, that doesn’t exactly work in his favour. Before blindly following  books, you must find out what those words actually mean. Blindfolding yourself and ignoring the possibility of that book being wrong will never work in your favour. You might end up like Chatur after delivering that speech (he gets kicked by the dean, in case you’ve forgotten)! 

Learning is not memorizing the exact words from the book. Learning is understanding it and being able to explain it in your words. Rote learning is not important rather than applying it in real life is important. Many engineers who have all the theoretical knowledge sometimes are not able to apply it in real life. Today our education system needs a practical approach; therefore, there should be an emphasis on “hands on learning”, practical knowledge as it will give the best exposure of learning to students or those who want to learn.

“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play”. – Immanuel Kaut.

What is wrong with the Indian Education system?

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Education is of paramount importance to an individual as well as the society. No matter which region or country we live in, education plays a fundamental role for knowledge enhancement of the individual as well as for the development of the country. But as the geographical region differs, the education system in different countries differs too.

Top countries with the best education system

  1. Finland 

Finland has the best education system in the world with no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students. They are publicly funded and run by government agencies from national officials to local authorities, are educators not business people or politicians. “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education”. They have shorter school days (190 days per year). Finland does not incorporate national standardized testing but they do evaluations for testing learning outcomes.

  1. Japan 

The main difference between Japanese education and other countries’ education system is that they emphasise on morals and ethics education. standard subjects such as Mathematics, science, music is of course taught but morals are a separate subject allocated with textbooks and time.  Competition between students to enter high schools and universities is so high that kids sometimes spend a majority of their time studying in order to get on the right track for the right school.

  1. South Korea 

Culturally, South Koreans are very invested in education. Everything from their social status to their marriage prospects to their job is determined by where they went to college. And parents are judged based on what universities their kids get into too. So, the parents and students are highly motivated when it comes to education. Teachers in South Korea are a major factor in the student’s success. They are extremely dedicated to their jobs. 

India Vs Foreign Education System 

Today our Indian education system is not included in even the top 20 countries with the best education system in the world. Do you know what India lacks in its education system?

There is a huge difference between the Indian Education System and foreign education systems. The Indian Education system focuses on theoretical knowledge rather than practical learning and they don’t allow creativity while the foreign education focuses on practical learning as practical stuff stays longer in the brain. If we ask a college graduate questions about the subjects, they have studied in 12th standard, they’ll not be able to answer all, as we pay more emphasis on theory and not practical, we emphasise on rote learning, rather if we ask the same question from a student from a foreign university they’ll be able to answer them as they build their concept on practical learning. 

Our political system is the root cause of all the problems that Indian education system faces today. The government emphasis on the policies like caste, minority and corruption issues rather than developing new policies on the basis of research, rather they follow the same policies formulated years ago. While in the foreign countries there are changes in policies on the basis of new research which improves their education system. 

Despite the continuous help offered by the government in India there are limited research funds and therefore research initiatives are less while research in foreign universities is funded by the biggest organisations of the world like Google, Microsoft and hence research initiatives are better.

In India education is just a formality to earn a degree, it is a part of a routine. We just want a degree in Engineering or Medical stream; whether we learn something or not. In foreign countries, education is taken as a learning process. 

In Germany after primary school there are choices given to students to choose from 3 different types of schools i.e. “Hauptschule’’ in which they get a degree after 9th grade so it’s the least advanced in terms of education. With that degree they can then start directly going into training for a job,      “Real Schule” – it’s a little more advanced in terms of Education and the students get their degree after 10th grade but still doesn’t enable them to go to university which means they usually also start going into training for a job, “Gymnasium” – it’s the most advanced education  in Germany and enables the students to go to university and basically do any job they wish for, if they have the required grades. They get their degree after 12th standard. So basically what German education system teaches us is that the students are given the liberty to choose their own field of interest rather here in India we take admission seeing the trends in the society , if majority of the students are rushing towards Engineering we’ll do the same , in short we go with the flow. But that should not be the case the students should be given full liberty to choose whichever stream they are interested in. 

In Dubai; primary and secondary education is free and it is made compulsory in law. Whereas in India education is becoming a business. Taking from privatization of education to tuitions and coaching institute; education is generating good money. So, business minds are now moving towards education. According to THE HINDU report around 1.5 lakh students, many from remote and small towns, live and study at around 100 private coaching institutes in Kota. This shows the rage of coaching institutes in India.

Indian government initiative for a new education system 

 The Indian government after 34 years has come up with a new education policy,2020 which focuses on overall development of the students by providing them opportunity to choose any subject not a particular stream and even vocational training will be provided to students from class 6th.The main objective of this new educational policy is the universalization of education and achieving global standards of education. The education policies have taken different points from different education systems around the world. Nothing is implemented till now but if it is implemented in its true vision, the new structure will bring India at par with the leading countries of the world. 

No system is perfect anywhere in the world, one can only strive harder to make it better. However, positive changes are happening in the world at a much faster pace than in India. We are still at the basics stage where infra structure itself is not up to the mark.

Covid impact on the education sector

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Coronavirus, an infectious disease spreading all across the globe has not only affected the economy as a whole but it has a huge impact on the education sector as well. Due to this pandemic there is a closure of schools, universities and colleges worldwide and it has reshaped nearly every aspect of normal life. In India too the closure of schools and universities has had far reaching social and economic consequences. Some private schools have adopted the online teaching methodology. The low income private and government schools, on the other hand,have completely shut down for not having access to e-learning solutions. No doubt, that it is a crucial time for the education sector because majorly all the entrance exams of universities and competitive exams are held during this period. Mostly all the entrance exams like JEE, NEET are postponed as it is difficult to conduct exams at this time. Covid 19 was an extremely stressful situation for the 10th and 12th class students and for the college students as there were repeated postponement of their exams. There was no clarity about the cancellation of exams or when the exams would be held. There were speculations about the grading system, will it be beneficial for the students or not. But now many things have been cleared like the 10th and 12th class board exams got cancelled and even the 1st and 2nd year students are promoted on the basis of their internals. For the 3rd year students Open Book Exam (OBE) is considered as an option as it would help to analyze their critical thinking. 

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As mostly schools and colleges are conducting their classes online it has burdened both students and teachers as they have to adapt to an online learning environment. In fact, the future of education has been transformed to not only accommodate online classrooms but embrace digital education. From primary schools to PhD programs, students across the globe are experiencing the altering effects of coronavirus as classrooms move online. Online learning i.e.  e-learning is a great platform to introduce students to technology who haven’t experienced it. But there are some challenges faced by students. Technology plays an important role in online learning. But there might be unstable WIFI connection, some students even don’t have access to the internet. Subsequently, many teachers and students find it difficult to teach and learn from the confines of a computer screen.   For younger students keeping a fixed schedule is important to maintain discipline and time management. But due to online classes they are not able to manage their time and it affects their productivity. Online learning is not even a short time solution for the primary school students because they need social and emotional bonding with the teachers for their development. Constant online classes for 5-6 days. Prolonged exposure to the screen with headphones is not an ideal situation as it is extremely stressful and leads to an increase in anxiety and depression.Young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day, finds a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. Not only this, many students don’t have access to internet facilities and this increases the burden on their parents as they are not able to attend classes.According to THE HINDU report  a class 9th student of Kerala who did not have access to either a smartphone or TV committed suicide as she was not able to attend online class .

 According to the UNESCO estimates, over 154 crore students are severely impacted by closure of educational institutions across the world amidst the COVID-19 outbreak due to which girls will be the worst hit as it will lead to increased dropout rates and further entrench gender gaps in education. Private schools are demanding fees from students as they are not able to pay salaries to teachers while some parents are not able to pay them as they are facing problems or might have lost their job due to covid, so they have no choice then dropping out their children from school. 

Another major concern is the placements, for students who have just completed their graduation have a fear in their mind of withdrawal of job offers from the corporate sector due to the current situation. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimate of the unemployment rate for the month of July at 7.43%.

We can’t ignore that education plays an important role and especially at this time there is a need for capacity building of young minds. The Central Government and State government need to take some measures to ensure progress in the education sector like ensuring learning continuity during this period, providing funds to government schools to continue their learning process in the digital form and many more.

THE NEW EDUCATION POLICY,2020

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela

After 34 years, India has come up with a new education policy which is progressive and if implemented properly will have a positive impact on the lives of million of students. India’s 1st educational policy was formulated in 1968 under the leadership of Indra Gandhi’s Government and the 2nd educational policy in 1986 under the Rajiv Gandhi’s government, this policy was modified in 1992 by PV Narsimha Rao’s Government and now after 34 years a new education policy is introduced in 2020.

On 29th August 2020, the Union cabinet cleared a new National education policy (NEP), proposing sweeping changes in school and higher education. The three most important changes in the education policy are –

  1. HRD Ministry is now renamed as Ministry of Education.
  2. GDP Investment in education to be increased from 1.6% to 6%.
  3. Focusing on Gross Enrolment Ratio. It will be increased to 50% by 2035.

This policy is made with a holistic approach in which vocational, academic, extra-curricular activities will be given equal importance and students can focus on the skills in which they are interested and after completing their school and college education they would be able to face the real world.

New education policy 2020

Existing                                             10 years                 Age (10-16)

                                                               +

                                                           2 years                   Age (16-18)

Revised Academic

Structure                                         5 years                Pre School   Age (3-6)

                                                                                       Class 1 -2    Age (6-8)

                                                              +

                                                          3 years                 Class 3 -5    Age (8-11)

                                                              +

                                                          3 years                  Class 6 -8   Age (11-14)

                                                              +                                                                                                             

                                                          4 years                  Class 9 -12 Age (14-18)

The new education policy pitches for a “5+3+3+4” design corresponding to the age group 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 years (preparatory), 11-14(middle) and 14-18 (secondary). This brings the Preschool period (Age 3-6) under the formal education, which will include the children of age (3-6) in school curriculum as it is included globally (as per Global Standards) which is a crucial stage for development of mental faculties of a child.

Changes in School Education

  1.  Students to learn coding from class 6. This is a practice in China from many years which has led to their development.
  2. Mother tongue to be a medium of instruction till 5th grade. Adopting local language is important as it is practiced in Europe which give an advantage to students to understand things.
  3. Report Card will be Comprehensive based on skills + Capabilities. It will be a 360-degree progress card including academic, practical and co-curricular activities. Even now students can self-evaluate their performance throughout the year and their classmates will also analyze their performance and then the teachers will evaluate your performance.
  4. Vocational education to start from class 6 with internships.
  5. Emphasis on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, no rigid separation between academic streams, extracurricular, vocational streams in schools.
  6. The board exams across states to test knowledge application and not rote learning with all the students allowed to take the exam twice.

Changes in Higher Education

  1. Holistic Undergraduate education with a flexible curriculum can be of 3 or 4 years with multiple exit options and appropriate certification will be provided at each stage.
  2. M.Phil. courses will be discontinued and all the courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level will now be interdisciplinary.
  3. Academic Bank of credits to be established to facilitate Transfer of credits. Transfer of credits is a widely accepted procedure.
  4. Higher Educational Commission of India (HECI) will be setup as a single umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding media and legal education. Public and private higher education institutions will be governed by the same sorts of regulation, accreditation and academic standards.
  5. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), at par with IITs, IIMs, to be set up as models of best multidisciplinary education of global standards in the country.

Other changes

  1. National curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) 2021, will be formulated by the National council for teacher Education (NCTE) in consultation with National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
  2. By 2030, the minimum degree qualification required to be a teacher will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed.
  3. Right to education extended to cover children between the age of 3-18 instead of 6-14.
  4. Education for all by 2030.
  5. Universities from among the top 100 in the world will be able to set up campuses in India.

The main objective of this new education policy is the universalization of education and achieving global standards of education. On paper aesthetically this policy seems to be saying all the right things but there are doubts regarding to the attainability of this policy. What will be done is fine but how they’ll do it is a big question that needs to be addressed. As the government is committing that they will spend 6% of GDP on education but that was even there in the 1968 Kothari Commission. Kothari Commission back in 1968 also claimed the same thing that they’ll spend 6% of GDP towards spending on education but was never implemented. Now the question arises that is this just a lofty idea as the government has not come out with any road map as to how they will attain these goals.

How would this be implemented especially because the reality is flying exactly in the opposite direction. The government schools are being vacated, there’s an exodus away from government schools to private schools. Private universities are being created; higher education is being commercialized. But the policy doesn’t address these issues. Now only time will tell what will be the impact of this policy. If it is implemented in its true vision, the new structure can bring India at par with the leading countries of the world.