05 September, 2013

Teacher's day: Our education system. What is wrong with it?

I love teaching!

I feel very sad to say that our education system is sorry state of affairs. Especially if we talk about private engineering colleges the future looks bleak. I can say this because I have worked in this so called 'education industry' for about a year. Seriously things are not so good.

Let me give you a list of what were my observations  of various polytechnic colleges:
  1. Firstly, the quality of students is not at all good.
  2. Teachers are not paid well
  3. Focus on theory and practicals neglected
  4. Teacher training is just a formality. Knowledge gained is poor.
  5. Student fees are hefty
  6. College administration is pathetic
  7. There is a lot of paper work for teachers
  8. Technology assisted learning is not paid any attention in many colleges 
  9. Parents hardly know what is going on
These are the complaints that everyone makes. Well, let me clear that I am not talking about the IITs and NITs in which all 'bright' students go. The problems I observed are specifically related to private engineering and polytechnic colleges.

So, what is the solution? What can we do to make a difference?

Improve the quality of students

The quality of students is so bad that many of them do not know basic mathematical formulas. Their basics are not clear. To tackle this problem we need to go the the root of the problem. The problem lies in our schools. Our schooling system encourages 'rote' learning that is making students just remember things. They do not inculcate  creativity at all. Students by-hard the formulas and theories and pass their exams but fail practically in real life situations. It is the schools where we need the repairs to be done. Teachers should always ask questions and make classes interactive. I see that not many schools inculcate the habit of creative learning.

There is no use of technology in schools. There are lot of resources on the internet, none of them are used properly. I believe that classrooms are for solving doubts and make the students think.

Pay the teachers well

Teachers in private engineering colleges are not paid properly at all. The situation is so bad that a lecturer is always looking for better opportunities in the industry which pays well. Teachers educate the future of India and see what we pay them, a few thousand rupees?

Employee satisfaction is not at all paid attention in private colleges. Most of the teachers are on ad-hoc basis who are removed from duty for the summer vacation to save costs. On the other hand students are charged hefty fees. What kind of evil world is this? Remember, no good pay, no good staff!

Focus more on teaching

When I was working in a polytechnic our employers audited us a lot. We had to gather and keep a lot of data regarding students, their monthly attendance, detention list, tours, daily attendance, various files. Basically I was more a babu than a lecturer. This babugiri should be reduced and automated with the help of software. Its good that teachers are audited, but the very method of the audit is flawed. The administration mostly rates the teachers on his babu skills rather than his teaching skills. This should not be the case. Administrative tasks should not be enforced upon teachers, he should be let free to improve his teaching skills and let him experiment with various methodologies of teaching. This would help the teacher grow and in turn benefit the students immensely.

Another thing is that teacher training shouldn't be a formality. Trainers who train teachers must be checked upon and must be good. Firstly teachers should be properly trained for how to teach and in their subject knowledge, advanced training can be done later.

Revisit our method of interpreting the syllabus

I find it really weird that our syllabi are divided into two parts - theory and practicals. Are theory and practical really that different that we should treat them differently. We have two types of classes viz theory classes and practicals. Because of this theory classes are given more importance than practicals. The syllabus completion of the theory has its own pace. Many a times practicals are taken before that topic is covered in the theory classes.

The solution I suppose is that the syllabus publishing authority should not distinguish between the two. The practicals should be mentioned along with the theory portion. Also there should be a single class instead of one theory and one practical. The practicals should be taken as and when the theory is taught. Also the syllabus should be adjusted to accommodate this change and proper instruction should be given

Change the thinking

Indian students study to pass exams and not to gain knowledge. They have the degree but no knowledge. They need training before they join an industrial organization. Where have we gone wrong? Well our thinking is wrong, our teachers teach how to solve questions rather than how to solve problems. And teachers are compelled to adopt this methodology because of a host of problems which include huge syllabus, less time, less job security because of less pass percentage, and many others. These problems can be solved if proper teacher training is done along with proper syllabus. The focus of everybody right from syllabus publishing authority to college administration to educators should be to inculcate creative thinking in their students and say no to exam based learning.

There is a lot to be done to repair our education system. I believe our country has an immense potential, it just needs a collective, determined, and a disciplined approach to make this educational reform.

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