How can the Indian educational system continue to maintain its standing in the global landscape?
- Additional academic options (more than the basic arts / commerce / sciences)
I recently met someone who was studying to be a therapist while also learning French. Similarly, rather than limiting the academic options that a student has after their 10th or 12th standard, give them the options of being able to major in a subject (or two) and still be able to pick other unrelated subjects that interest them.
- Awareness of current affairs
For any student to compete on the world stage, it is imperative that they are aware of the environment around them, especially more so in an era where what happens in Bermuda may affect them more than what happens in Bhopal. News websites/apps are great, along with students being able to pick optional subjects like current affairs and general knowledge for extra credit. This goes hand-in-hand with parents/teachers alike encouraging students to read newspapers and setting time aside during a school week to discuss important topics.
- Annual performance appraisals for teachers
We must continue to hold academic institutions accountable for the quality of students under their supervision. An effective way to do this is to start with structured annual appraisals for teachers/educators with in built targets, rewards as well as penalties for their performance.
- Open recreational spaces
One of the requirements for an educational institute to be set up should be to have a certain specified recreational area (based on the size of the institute and number of students enrolled). This cannot be optional as it is integral that some form of sports/physical activity is an important part of each student’s life, right from the beginning.
- Have schools adopt the neighbourhoods around them
This should happen with students being encouraged to participate in local social activities (eg Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on a local scale). Use these projects to inculcate a sense of pride in the community as well as respect for road rules.
- Bring your child to work day
Another great initiative for students to connect with their parents might be a corporate/educational tie up designated as a ‘bring your child to work day’ where professionals are encouraged to bring their children to work on a specific day. Such a programme has multiple benefits for all concerned. Students benefit because it’s an opportunity for them to explore career options in a practical way and discuss what aspects of their ‘work day’ they liked and what they didn’t. Parents benefit because the children learn to appreciate their work and their motivations. They are also able to have relevant discussions before, during and after the visit. Teachers benefit as it becomes easier for them to bridge the gap between education and future career paths. It also encourages discussions on the various options open to students today and the steps they have to take to get there.
- Internships should be encouraged
Internships even for a few hours a week or over the summer holidays have several proven advantages including gaining valuable insights to an industry that a student might be interested in, enhancing their intrinsic abilities as well as learning new skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, etc, as well as increasing their self-confidence and expanding their professional network.
The Indian in 2015 India seems better travelled and better informed than any of their previous generations. They are extremely self-confident (sometimes bordering on overconfidence) but that’s only because they’ve had to compete and fight for every opportunity that they’ve got and are not going to give that up that easily. They only see hope, opportunity and believe that with hard work, sacrifice and the right attitude, all is within reach.