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Articles on Indian Education by Dr. Harnek S.Kaile

Indian Education at Cross-Roads

By Dr. Harnek S. Kaile

"Indian education is at cross-roads," stated the University Education Commission fifty-two years ago and the statement is equally applicable to the Indian education today. If we consider  education in the narrow sense (knowledge of 3 R's), then, as we often hear people saying that in old days, a primary pass could become a good patwari, but now even a matriculate cannot write a good letter. If we consider education in the wider sense that it should modify the behaviour of the child or improve social efficiency and produce good citizens, then we are 
not giving education worth the name.

Certain countries of the world are at the height of glory because of their sound educational system. Our educational system is as rotten as it was during the British regime: teachers teach with the same old methods; stories of dead kings and queens are learnt by heart and education is not related to the needs and aspirations of the people.In arithmetic, pupils are asked to solve problems like: if we mix ten litres of water with thirty litres of milk and sell it at the same rate, what will be the percentage of gain? Thus, an impression of corrupt practices is created in the minds of small children.

Our examination system is also old and defective. The authorities have done nothing substantial to improve it; the students, of course, are making improvements in the techniques of cheating.

If we consider the different levels of education, we find that there are drawbacks and drawbacks everywhere. 

Kothari Commission suggested that every child should be given pre-primary education for one to three years. But in our country, pre-primary schools exist mainly in cities where education is so costly that it is beyond the reach of a common man. In fact, pre-primary education is imparted only to those children who don't need it and the needful are deprived of it.   

 "If someone were to prepare a literacy map of the world and colour the illiterate areas of the earth black, India will, to our shame, look like a dark continent", K. G. Saiyidain.

In no way we can ignore the importance of primary education. According to our Constitution, by 1965, education should have been made free and compulsory for children in the 6 to 14 age group. Keeping this objective in view, Primary Education Acts were passed in several states (one such Act was passed in Punjab in 1960).But it is a pity that, by now, not to speak of the 6 to 14 age group, education is not free and compulsory even for children in the 6 to 11 age group. The Govt. of India admitted in 'Challenge of Education' (1985) that 93.4 percent of eligible children attend primary schools. This percentage is only 62.9 in Assam and there are districts where the enrolment of girls is as low as 17 percent (Jallore in Rajasthan). Thus, a large number of children of school-going age don't attend schools and most of them clean dirty utensils at tea shops and do various other odd jobs.

It is also worthy of note that where schools exist, 40 percent have no pucca buildings, 39.72 percent have no black-boards and 59.50 percent have no drinking water  and there are schools where children don't have even mats to sit on. As a result, primary education doesn't help in modifying the perdonality of the child.

Secondary education is still the weakest link in our educational machinery. For a large majority of students, secondary stage is the terminal stage and after this, they have to do some work to earn their living. But secondary education, being purely bookish, gives no guidance to the students in this direction.

College education has not been given a vocational bias and, as such, it produces misfits for the society. The college student knows that even an M. A. degree would not help him secure a job. That is why there is indiscipline in the colleges.

K. G. Saiyidain once wrote, "If someone were to prepare a literacy map of the world and colour the illiterate areas of the earth black, India will, to our shame, look like a dark continent." Though there has been a substantial increase in the number of literates after independence, yet the number of illiterates has also increased because of abnormal increase in population. Adult education programme has done practically nothing to remove illiteracy from the country.

In short, the Indian educational system is suffering from a large number of drawbacks. That is why, the Kothari Commission stated emphatically, "Indian education needs a drastic change, almost a revolution." ( To be continued)

DR.HARNEK SINGH KAILE, Ph.D.(Education), M.Phil(Education), M.Ed., M.A.(English), M.A.(Punjabi)
has 28 years' experience as a lecturer in a college of education, and is presently Principal, G.H.G.Kh. College of Education, Gurusar Sudhar, Distt Ludhiana(Pb.) India. He has published many research papers, including Bharti Sikhya Churahe Te (in Punjabi) which has been translated into English and is being serialised here.

Dr Kaile can be reached by e-mail at