Skip to main content

Reforming the Indian Primary and Secondary Education System

The Indian formal education system has barely seen any fundamental reforms. Ever since Independence, the only changes that we have seen are the mid-day meal schemes and the Right to Education Act. The method of imparting education has remained pretty much the same (in many if not most countries) for decades. There are classrooms, with teachers for subjects. Students attend classes, take notes, study at home or in school itself, appear for exams, pass and graduate to the next class. This process continues to the twelfth standard till the end of school.

This is basically the same thing that our fathers did as students. As did their fathers and probably our future generation will also do the same thing. But the flaws of this system are apparent.


  1. The students are given a one size fits all system in the length and breadth of the country (and perhaps even the world). This defies common logic. Localized customization is not only a luxury but should be considered a necessity.
  2. Students are totally unaware of some of the most basic things in life - like swimming. Or take skills like basic carpentry, rudimentary plumbing skills, masonry etc. In fact, so specialized are our students (this includes us) that we expect them to excel in one thing and one thing only - pure academics.
  3. Sports has taken a backseat. The quest for engineers and doctors rule the roost. India's performance in the sports arena has certainly improved, but it is still pitiable considering our population.
  4. We don't even know about how the food grows, how the cultivation is actually done in the field. This creates a serious disconnect. Funny thing is that introducing students to these activities do not incur any additional cost to the education system. Farmers, cultivators, masons, carpenters etc are all around us. Any basic introduction is unlikely to cost almost anything for a class.
  5. The total lack of interest in camping. This is not true for some specialized schools, but the majority of public schools do not impart any education in how to cook, administer basic first aid and so on. Teaching Shakespeare has a greater priority than teaching how to boil rice - a staple food for so many in our country. The condition would have been far worse, had the social cohesion been not so strong in this country. For example, girls do get basic education about how to cook. Before you dismiss this as a regressive mindset, keep in mind that such skills are necessary. Only that this information should not be limited to one specific gender alone.
  6. NCC, volunteer work in the neighborhood and other social activities are totally shunned. Except in religious festivities, schools barely work for the society in general. But children are the most enthusiastic in almost anything they do. Instead of teaching them the 'moral' science in cleaning a garbage dump, would not be better to take them out for two hours a week to clean up the surrounding of the school itself?
  7. Maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure can also be done. Schools in Japan follow this principle with great results. We dirty places because we have no sense of belonging to them. Do we dirty our own homes? Cleaning toilets of schools, painting the corridors should not be the sole responsibility of professional cleaners. Students should also need to feel 'ekatma' with their school building. It should be as dear to them as their own bed.
  8. National convents can also be considered, even for day scholars. This is not blindly aping the foreign convent culture, but tuning to the guru shishya system practiced in gurukuls since time immemorial. The bonds forged among the like-aged are difficult to emulate in later life - we know now. Of course, it need not be as strict but the Ramakrishna School model has stood the test of time without risking alienating children from their parents ( a common complaint).
The common rebuttal to these ideas is that these will increase the workload on the students. The point is ridiculous. The books are what increase the workload of children. Ask them to play all day and they will do that gleefully. We give them what we want them to be 20 years from then. Not what they should be doing right from then and there. From civic sense to social unity, from love for nation and community to appreciation of cultural values, from valuing other countries' contributions to loving one's own families, from not discriminating people for their sex etc - we SHOULD learn these from childhood. And we should learn these from schools.

Today, many of the issues we face are because of a faulty education system. It is time we rethink our education model, may be give the SUPW a better meaning that 'Some Useful Periods Wasted'.

Popular posts from this blog

Salesmen of God

Christian evangelicals are similar to parasites[1]. The similarities are simply astounding. Among all predatory religions, Evangelical Christianity has done, by far, the greatest harm to humankind[2]. Like leeches, the Evangelical sucks the lifeblood of an unchristian society till it descends either into chaos and incessant civil conflict or the relegation of the culture to the pages of history(Bowden, 1985). Even in the 21st century this unashamed activity continues(Bhosle, 2003).[3]
Evangelicals usually have a similar methodology when it comes to proselytization. Like parasites, the target is usually one belonging to the most vulnerable section of society. This does not necessarily mean that they try harvesting only the most down trodden of the society(Kelly, 2001). And most certainly, the objective is never the upliftment of the persons involved. The target groups may, for example, belong to ethnic minorities, refugees (both economic and political), caste groups, the poor and the si…

Ali The Kargil Boy

I met Ali in the Leh airport,he drove us in our hotel. The very next morning we went for sightseeing. He used to drive very fast. I repeatedly told him to drive slow, he followed for  a short time; again continued in his own speed.
On the way to Nubra valley the road was very stiff and the altitude was very high. As I was sick before our tour it was difficult for me to bear that fast ride.After coming back I complained our tour  operator for his driving and asked for another driver.




Our tour operator assured me that he would tell him to drive  comfortably.The next day Ali came drove the car and I enjoyed my entire remaining  trip.
Sometimes he used to push the accelerator and I just told "Ali.....ahista"...he became consous. We used to chat during this long drive. I asked him "How old are you Ali?he replied "22years mam."He told me "At the age of 16 I started driving without lisence,I used to drive big vehicles ,now I drive tourist cars during the seas…

When birds come home

It is mid March in Mumbai. It is supposed to be hot and humid. As it usually is all the year round with monsoon and December exceptions.
But it's cloudy today. To be fair, yesterday was also cloudy but today is dark. As dark as it usually is just before a downpour. It may rain and I don't have an umbrella with me. It's not that a change of weather is bad. I like rains. But the suddenness is rather strange.
I am not the only one confused with the weather change. The birds seem to be totally messed up by the onset of darkness. It was about 9 AM in the morning. The birds had just perched on the trees for their daily routine. The cloud came. They possibly understood that to be the beginning of the evening and end of day. Next thing I know, I see hundreds (yes, literally hundreds) of birds rushing back to their nests.
This is not a unique scene. I have seen this umpteen number of times in the monsoons. This is the first time I have noticed it in March (as far as I can remember) an…