Indian education system


Think about your favourite teacher, first best friend, first crush, sharing tiffin boxes, the class getting up and chanting “good morning teacher”, bells ringing and copies closing in unison. Nostalgic, right? 

School inevitably leads one to “memory avenue” where one cannot help but wander. With the Semester-End Examination bidding farewell, the WhatsApp groups flood with reunion plans. But there exists a bitter side, a side that is an underlying decay, decay that cannot be ignored.

School instils fear in the hearts of students. The adrenalin rush at the fear of not knowing an answer turns out to be a baseless tremor, as one looks back at past. Eventually, this fear becomes a part of one’s system and the default setting of thinking more and speaking fewer sets in. How many times did you know the answer, had a doubt or an opinion but could not raise your hand? Did this resurface in your adulthood? Let that thought sink in…..

“I remember I was in seventh when our teachers segregated us on the basis of the length of our kurtas. We were very young hence, we actually started feeling guilty.”

The length of a kurta, the length of a skirt, the magnitude of the narrowness of one’s pants, the crime of rolling up one’s sleeves seem to be the only parameters which exist to judge students and categorize them into “good” and “undisciplined”. This plight continues like the not-so-famous process of “unnatural selection”, we assume that Darwin hangs his head down at the thought of it. The stages of categorization continue till an alpha being is found who is used as the ideal specimen to which others are advised to “look up to”. “Look at him, try to be like him” they say. Eventually, one tries to follow, as a result, the coping mechanism changes to copying mechanism and a school changes into a mass production unit.

The garden never claimed the roses to be the most beautiful. The flowerpots never told the periwinkles to be like lilies, the soil never told the weed to act like grass.

Students learn to follow, follow their teachers, follow elders, and follow what the book says. No one teaches the act of resistance, the act of questioning is a forbidden fact because apparently, questions do not come as six markers in papers. They never let one ask why but expect an explanation in your diary note.

Schools hollow out the capacity to have opinions. The glass is always half full and schools half-heartedly open horizons to fit in critical thinking. Agitation and resistance are Greek words until one enters college, where every voice matters, where every act of dissent is not reduced to rootless rebellion. 

“I’d be concerned about a behaviour policy that focuses on punishing students for what they are getting wrong rather than asking the broader question of why they are behaving in a particular way. Our school’s motto is “live adventurously”…… we encourage individuals to think for themselves and explore and question- that’s fundamental to education”, Iain Kilpatrick, head-teacher, Sidcot School, Somerset.

A democratic classroom is a farfetched dream which only some seem to savour. A place where questions are asked, opinions are accepted and sticks are spared is much due. The existing training for slavery should be replaced by the empowerment of future leaders. Dawn is yet to come.

Feature Image Credits: Gyanarjun Saroj for DU Beat

Priyanshi Banerjee

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This piece aims to answer the following questions- do these courses guarantee a job? What’s the reason behind so many students not finding a decent job? What is the merit of these long, hard years of education?

In the Indian education system, the success of the education imparted is measured by the size of the package, and in the Indian society the prestige of a person is as big as their cabinet. This desire has set a generalised pattern for all, and it uplifts those courses that guarantee job placement. Hence, 9,35,741 students appeared for the JEE MAINS this year or why children are often pressurised by their parents to take Science, because “kaafi scope hai na.”

Students face tremendous pressure to first get extraordinary great marks to beat the cut-offs, then do extremely well in their entrances for their masters or carry the enormous burden of their undergraduate just for landing a job. Each level of education is just a steppingstone to a job. Yet, we face one of the biggest unemployment challenges ever. How can a system which has made children as young as twelve internalise the need for a good job, fail at that same thing?

As per United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), over half of the Indian students will not be eligible for 21st Century jobs and here are few reasons for it:


1. Increased competition

The days when college was only accessible to the rich and elite are over. College has become more affordable and much more competitive. This happens due to the wave of the popular profession. In the 1980s, Law was considered the profession that gets students a job, in the 1990s it was replaced by civil services and medical practice. In the 2000s, Engineering took off and now it is Chartered Accountancy. The result?

A record number of college applications across the nation, resulting in more college graduates, and thus, more competition for the limited number of jobs available on the market.

The secondary effect of this is that the days when having a degree alone would get you a job are over. The “prestige” that comes with having a degree has now become diluted with the rampant number of students graduating in that highly concentrated field.


2. Little or no work experience

This about the student’s famous catch 22 position. This situation arises when they have no job experience, yet all the jobs out there require it if you want to apply. So, they can’t get a job because they have no experience and in order to get a job, they need a job for work experience, but they can’t get a job without work experience and the cycle viciously continues.

One way to get out of this cycle is to not pass up on jobs that you may think are beneath you. Swallow your pride and take those jobs or intern for free at a company you would like to work at. Always keep in mind that jobs can lead to other jobs.

3. Lack of networking

Many people get jobs through referrals. Statistics show this is how a majority of people get their jobs. The reason why word of mouth is so effective is that it cuts through all the worry of whether, or not, this person can do the job.

If somebody has been working for a company for some time, then that employee knows what it takes to succeed, and if that employee knows somebody who can do it, it’s an easy fit. The employer will trust the employee referring the new candidate and the new candidate will most likely get the job.


4.The age-old syllabus

It’s very likely that if you do the same course as your parents, the syllabus covered by both of you would be the same. So much so, that even the books would be the same despite the rampant technology growth. There’s a huge difference between the job that students want, and the course taught to them. Their course even lacks the skills required to handle 21st Century jobs. Hence, the conventional pattern never breaks.


5.Lack of personal and social skills

The biggest myth is that a degree guarantees a job, however in many cases, students have landed jobs due to their great interview skills or lifted attitude. But those skills are never taught, let alone talked about. As per a study conducted by BridgeLabz, more than one-third of the engineering students were non-employable and the biggest reason for it was lack of self-confidence. In India, as many as fifty three percent will leave secondary school without getting the skills needed for a decent job.


India, in particular, has to worry about its current and future unemployment too. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), its unemployment rate stood at 8.45 percent. As more sectors fall into the throes of the ongoing slowdown, like auto, followed by telecom and IT, joblessness is all set to rise. Three major technology giants, Capgemini, Infosys, and Cognizant are cutting as many as five hundred senior-level jobs. Further, the future of as many as one lakh employees of BSNL’s vendors are in limbo, as the telecom operator is yet to pay 200 billion INR in dues.

There is no doubt, that the education system is flawed, there is a much greater emphasis on marks than practicality. And it is evident, that a dire change is how students approach higher education is required but the dreading economy doesn’t help their case either.


Featured Image Credits: DU Beat


Chhavi Bahmba 

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With exams just around the corner, this piece is an aim to inspire you to study on of your off days where you’ve given up on your books and just need a break. Hopefully, these movies will motivate you more than Sandeep Maheshwari. 

Films have been long overlooked as an educational tool. Cinema is just an anecdote of the literature of the world. We tend to forget that what often spurs the imagination is both visual and auditory. For many of us, watching movies is an escape. After 5 hours of comprehending the political theory, even Kuch Kuch Hota Hai acts as a relief. The power of cinema is boundless. Movies on this list have all one thing in common, value for education and not a conventional way to prove it. Thus, making them great breaks between your study sessions. And more than that, great tools to uncover your hidden love for art and knowledge.

Take a journey with these lead characters that will provoke you to take a journey with your books. These movies will motivate you not just for these exams but will act as a reminder of how education isn’t just for a degree.


  1. Freedom Writers:

Freedom Writers is a frank and formulaic entry in the inspirational inner-city teacher genre, with an energetic Hilary Swank. It’s an inspiring drama that touches on many themes of power, violence, and casteism. Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) arrives for her first day of teaching at Wilson High, a school which once was at pinnacle of academic performance now is filled with underprivileged students who use drugs, live on streets where people are killed regularly and have even served time in prison. Erin’s commitment to transforming her students by writing and reading is what is inspirational of all. This doesn’t just celebrate great teachers but the unity that arises out of diversity once all walls of discrimination are broken.


  1. Dead Poets Society: 

There are some films that, if you watch then for the first time at the right age, have the capacity to inspire and embolden you: Dead Poets Society is one such film. Its uncynical, idealistic and hopeful making it not resonate with film snobs, but what it lacks in critical kudos, it has recouped in audience appreciation. Robin Williams is on top form as the iconoclastic John Keating, the unconventional English teacher who uses his love of poetry and classic literature to break down barriers at the oppressive Welton Academy. Keating inspires his young charges to ‘seize the day’, challenge the school’s strict rules, and truly be themselves. The film is packed with emotionally-charged, touching scenes but the one that won’t fail to make the hairs on your arm stand up is this one where Keating’s students demonstrate what he means to them – “Oh Captain, My Captain…”


  1. The Pursuit of Happiness:

It’s a magnificent real-life tale that teaches you to not give up, irrespective of whatever happens. The perfect elixir you need when you have to do the entire syllabus in one week. Never miss an opportunity and studying hard, after a few years, Chris works his way up the career ladder from medical equipment salesman to financial hotshot. If there’s one story that demonstrates that you should never give up, no matter how bad things get, it’s Chris’.


  1. Good Will Hunting:

Matt Damon masterfully plays the eponymous role of Will Hunting a 20-year-old mathematical prodigy with a rough past, a tendency for street fighting and run-ins with the law. The film shows how an underachiever can turn things around. People who have always had problems with focus and concentration this one is for you. This movie familiarises you with the concept of heartbreak. The heartbreak one feels when appreciating a true genius but to fall short of it yourself. The film stars Matt Damon as a janitor at MIT who likes to party and hang in the old neighbourhood and loves reading things of the Internet and imbibe them into his photographic memory. Even though it follows a predictable narrative arc, Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey and is loaded with enough powerful performances that it remains an entertaining and emotionally rich drama.


  1. School of Rock:

In this movie, the irrepressible Jack Black plays a down-on-his-luck musician who makes use of a combination of creative interview techniques, Led Zeppelin riffs, crazy love for music, and a ridiculous amount of ‘winging it’ to transform a class of upper-class unhappy kids into a real group of tiny rock Gods.  While the movie was never going to challenge for the Best Picture Oscar, it’s a fantastic off-beat example of how education can inspire really positive change amongst the most unlikely looking people.


  1. Stand and Deliver:

Another inspirational film made for those who might not be able to concentrate cause of family troubles, societal troubles and other out of hand issues. This movie leads a powerful narrative of how that academic success is not out of reach just because of their background or their current struggles. The story demonstrates the possibilities open to anyone no matter what they may have been told in the past. With Ramon Menendez as the director, the film is much less clichéd than La Bamba. 


  1. Sister Act 2:

Back in the Habit: A nun reprises her role in the music scene by joining a Catholic school’s mission to take their choir further in the state championships. The lesson in this film is that any student can find their place with the right encouragement. And if you don’t grove to the songs and if they don’t stick to your head while attempting your exams, you may take a box of Ferrero Rocher from my house.


Featured Image Credits: Vulture


Chhavi Bahmba 

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With exam season around the corner, most of us are hassled, worried, and over-worked. As we work over previous years’ question papers, guides and reference books, resentment for the current examination system, which values rote-learning over knowledge emerges from within.

It is the month of November, which in Delhi University and across the country means end-semester examinations. And as students all across mug up facts and numbers, drink endless cups of coffee and pull all-nighters and neglect their physical, mental and emotional health over an examination, we experience a strong sense of disappointment over the current examination system that reduces our value to a number.

The current examination system has quantified knowledge and has attempted to make intelligence and proficiency more measurable. As a consequence, the number that is aimed to signify our proficiency in a particular subject- say marks, percentage, or Semester Grade Point Average (SGPA) has now become the end-goal. Marks are not a marker of what we have learned the whole semester; it is now the end result. The desire to know more and our curiosity and creativity have died in this quest to score more.

But quantifying learning is not the biggest problem that the examination system has given birth to. The problem with the examination system is that it is part of a system. By methodically creating a process which shall evaluate and determine the worth and capabilities of students and their learning, a specific structure/pattern has been created that ought to be followed and respected. As a consequence, students take the pressure of scoring certain marks and working tirelessly to achieve a particular result. Consequently, the focus of education has shifted, from innovation and learning to score. Students in college are under the pressure to maintain their scores rather than thinking of creative ways to expand their horizons of knowledge.

The problem with creating a system is that there will always be people who will think of ways to cheat the system. In the context of students, this refers to students who do not read the prescribed and suggested text and readings but instead prepare specific questions and notes that will help them sail through the exams. These “hacks” so to speak, of evading the exhaustive process of going through the entire syllabus is used by majority of the students and the practice of “selective studying” or “smart-work” is preferred. As a result, students end up getting good grades in subjects which they know little about. This problematic habit of cheating the system has become so ingrained in our minds that even students studying subjects like English literature and history do not go through all their novels and readings as well but instead learn certain answers and critiques by heart and copy them out on their answer sheet. The romanticism in studying is now lost; it has now become a soulless process meant to ensure a certain grade. We are witnessing the demise of education. As countries across the world make education more and more objective, measurable and quantified, the soul of the process of learning is slowly dying out and no one will bear its brunt, apart from students.

Feature Image Credits: iStock


Kinjal Pandey

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Our President addressed the faculty and students of Central Universities and institutions around the country on August 10, 2015. As one of the many students who attended the live telecast, I couldn’t help but notice the absolute lack of any reference to humanities, liberal arts, or anything other than science and technology-based education in India during the address and the following interaction. When arguably the most important figure of your country fails to mention the very stream of your choice of studying in an address related to energising the higher education in the country, it tends to make you think about not just the education system, but also your own love and future prospects in pursuing the same.

This is not the first, or the only instance, that comes to mind when thinking about this issue. The much talked about hierarchy of pursuing science followed by other subjects is real beyond the choosing of subject streams in Class 10. It is not just the stigma and trying to explain to people how studying English, Sociology or History wasn’t a decision prompted by your lack of options. Humanities shouldn’t be considered the paltry, last-option bunch of subjects people opt for when they haven’t qualified for another. Through this, not only are we, as a country and society, discouraging young, enthusiastic students who are keen on pursuing subjects but we’re also opening ourselves up to the very real possibility of not having enough learned people in these subjects. We have been conditioned to believe that having enough doctors and engineers would take care of our needs but by ignoring humanities, we’re ignoring the people who study our interaction as human beings and are, through their studies and theories, responsible for the structure, institutions and life the way we see today.

The interaction session following the President’s address was between the heads of science and technology based institutions, who talked about the leaps in their research facilities and making India a research-based education hub. While it is always amazing to hear about the leaps and bounds our country has made in terms of research and education, it was disheartening to not hear about any such research or study conducted by students pursuing humanities or discuss how our country fares in terms of education specifically in this stream. That’s mostly because we don’t. We’re a country made of and for engineers and doctors, featuring Science research. Our education system is built around it, and everyone panders to and reinforces it.

The young doctorate student questioned why bright Indian minds should go abroad for their higher education given the myriad opportunities offered in the country itself. It’s a good question, but it further raises an important point. Are we actually offering opportunities to students not pursuing pure sciences, medicine and engineering? And since we’re not, is it unfair to not expect students to leave the country in search of better opportunities? By failing to talk about humanities and the arts, is India responsible for a part of its brain-drain itself?

Image Credits: forbesindia.com

Shubham Kaushik

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