Lamentation of A Backbencher
“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another” — G.K. Chesterton
As said in the above quote, education has always been an important part of the society. But, here in India, the education system has not only helped society to grow but has also divided it. The Indian Education System has changed a lot with time but something has remained the same, which was deeply implanted by the British back in the days of the Raj, that is, manufacturing a labour class. This answers a lot of questions, like, why Indian companies are not growing compared to others? Why are more and more people settling abroad for work? We need to see the root cause of it and understand what’s wrong and why our nation can not progress to its full potential.
A walk in the Past
The Britishers were very clever with their policies. They introduced western education in India saying it will not only provide opportunities to the higher classes but also educate the grass root people of the society. The Downward Filtration Theory introduced by Lord Macaulay was an interesting theory which said by educating higher classes of the society it would create opportunities for the uneducated ones as well, because lower classes tend to imitate higher classes of people and follow them as models. This, generally, didn’t work as education was not something that could be gained by imitating others, hence it resulted in a discrimination in the society between higher educated classes and uneducated lower classes. This discrimination rather proved to be helpful to the Britishers since they always implemented the policy of divide and rule. Therefore, the Theory was an utter failure but it helped the Britishers in their rule since many of the educated higher classes took sides of the British during independence.
Another aspect which hugely affected the education system was that the British planned to educate upper or middle class Indians because they wanted to create a class “Indian in blood and colour but English in taste”. They wanted this class of Indians to act as the middlemen who could communicate with the mass and would make life easier for the British. This means they actually wanted labour class people who would not question the authorities and do their jobs. The education provided was just the amount needed to fulfil the requirements of the British. And this habit of “learning as much as needed” was embedded in our education system.
In present days, the education system has changed and also progressed a lot. But the basic practice is still the same, with some changes in the parameters. During the British Raj, a student studied as per the requirements of the job he/she did. Now, a student studies for the required marks he/she needs to pass exams. Now you see the similarity? Yes. An education system should never be marks centric but that’s what happened with our education system. Students, generally, study not because they are interested in a particular subject or because they want to gain knowledge about a particular topic, but they always have this pressure of scoring a certain percentage of marks because that will help them build their career. Nowadays, students are embedded with the thought of “if you don’t get 90% up in exams, your life will be doomed”.
This pressure and race to 90% makes a student less imaginative and more mechanical. Students stop thinking out of the boundaries. They only focus on things which will help them score marks and even start having satisfaction with just having good marks. Most of the students give up on their passion just to get “educated”. Students are often reluctant to ask questions which are offbeat or out of syllabus.
Now let’s talk about discrimination. As in the past the upper educated class discriminated against the lower uneducated class, in today’s world there is a very low key discrimination on the basis of marks. This is sometimes done by teachers, parents and even students. This many times demotives the student and he/she feels it’s pointless working so hard still not getting any results. All that being said, this discrimination as not true in all cases. Students often get into an environment where they feel they have the potential to do better and try hard to use that to their best, this kind of environment is needed more for students. Students need more encouragement and confidence, not demotivation and disappointment.
Environment makes it a lot different for a student. Students are already pressurized in this current system and they have a lot of expectations and competition. Adding to that, if they are discriminated against or demotivated they tend to lose all hope which doesn’t help them in any way. The approach should be more rational and logical not just theoretical. With all the pressure and expectations, theoretical approach and examination doesn’t really help students to learn or educate but students tend to mug up more which eventually doesn’t help them in real world. Questions should have more logical and practical material which will make the students actually think and write, and this will help them more rather than just mugging up theory and vomiting that on the answer script.
Last but not the least, students are ultimately humans. They have their passion and aspirations and dreams. Most of the students drop their passion or aspirations just to stay in the competition of the education system. This, at times, hits hard to them. The major issue goes back to the importance of marks that our system and embedded deep within. Obviously marks is an important parameter in any education system but it should not be the soul parameter to survive in this system. Our teachers and other authorities should not give this impression to the students that marks are the ultimate price, which is absolutely not. Knowledge is the ultimate price and how to use that in the real world should be the approach of our education system.
We have an education system which is far more progressive and it has created great gems. We can not overlook the possibilities and opportunities provided by our education system. But like every other system it has some flaws and we need to know the root cause of it and think about how to overcome those flaws. This article had that only purpose to give a viewpoint of what our education system lacks and what can be done to it. India is a big nation and has tremendous potential and our youths are the pillar so we need to give our best, in terms of education, because they are the future and their progress means progress for the nation.
- Downward Filtration Theory — THE MASTER EDUCATOR
- Impact of British Raj on the Education System in India: The Process of Modernization in the Princely States of India — The case of Mohindra College, Patiala | Creative Space (chitkara.edu.in)
- Development of Education during British Period in India (jagranjosh.com)