When I wrote the one year anniversary post, I mentioned that I would try to get some “guest writers” into the blog. Now I’m very delighted to welcome Yavnika Khanna as the first guest writer! She is a colleague of me that I met during the trek to Naneghat.
She has been closely associated with several civil society organizations working on creating educational opportunities in India. She is an founder and elected National Coordinator of Liberal Youth Forum, which closely works in several higher educational institutions to groom young leaders.
She has represented India at numerous prestigious international forums across 4 continents. She holds a degree in Business Studies from Delhi University and an MBA from KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and Research (SIMSR), Mumbai.
Here is her story about the Indian education system:
Indian education system is as diverse and layered as the nation itself. It’s got multiple influences and it would be difficult to isolate the various philosophies and motivations that guide it to its present shape. Yet, today’s education system is mainly dominated by “western” concepts and pedagogy, though India has had its own unique tradition of organized educational institutions since times immemorial. In the recent past, we in India have inherited among others, a mainly anglicized, socialistic and bureaucratic education system, which as per many critics, leads to straitjacketed students. In my opinion, the system has failed to evolve to the local realities and changed global scenario. Education is still not an industry in India (organizations or individuals cannot be profiting from educational institutions in accounting terms and only non- profits can run registered/accredited institutions even though 100% foreign direct investment is allowed).
All said and done, education is a very important element for India’s socio- cultural setup and a way for economic and even social empowerment for Indians. Consider these facts which may be interesting to you:
– Hindus have a goddess dedicated to education, learning and wisdom, Saraswati.
– In India, the Guru or the teacher is held in high esteem. There is a Sanskrit verse that if the devotee were presented with the guru and God, first he would pay respect to the guru, since the guru had been instrumental in leading him to God.
– In ancient times, a Gurukul was a residential type of school in India, where pupils lived in proximity to the guru. The Vedas or ancient texts of the Hindus , have classified a lifetime of 100 years, out of which the first 25 are best spent in bachelorhood and in pursuit of education , and termed as the stage or “asharama” of “Brahmacharya”, which is followed by “Grihastha”/Domesticity, and “Vanaprastha”/ Reflection and “Sanyasa”/ Renunciation.
– Nālandā is the name of an ancient university, a Buddhist center of learning from the 4th to 11th Century. It has been called “one of the first great universities” in recorded history.
During the colonial period, significant changes were effected in the system of education. It was then that knowledge of English language became the de- facto ticket to government jobs and provided expanded access to trading opportunities. The rise of English print media and establishment of Universities and convents were some of the direct implications of the rising acceptance of English as a uniting factor in a nation of multiple languages. In a way, this period marked the first important phase of globalization for Indian education system. Though this phase also lead to a gap between vernacular and English languages, which is still a struggle and subject of policy debates in this nation.
Following independence in 1947, Maulana Azad, India’s first education minister recommended a strong central government control over education throughout the country, to ensure a uniform educational system. Such a system may be ideal for a largely homogenous and smaller nation like Norway, but for a diverse and huge nation like India (with 23 constitutionally recognized languages) it meant that the state intervention clashed with regional and local educational needs.
Today, every child between the age of 6- 14 is guaranteed primary education by the state in India. However, the goal of universal education still remains elusive as the quality and access of schooling and basic educational infrastructure remains a challenge. India still suffers from the chronic anomalies in the government dominated educational system. 3 out of 4 of schools in India have one teacher for several classes in a single classroom.
At present the literacy rate is 74% in India, and it may be noted that there is a gender divide hidden in the average figure, with only 65% literate females as opposed to 82% literate males. Rural India has the lowest literacy rates in Asia. As India becomes a global outsourcing hub, one portion of India is using its English skills and higher education as a competitive edge over other nations like China, there is the “other” India struggling to become literate or use its education into employable skills to climb up the developmental chain.
I will try to create a write something about the Norwegian education system shortly and then try to do a comparison between the two.
Talk to you soon!