Recently, there has been uproar about modifying a three year degree program to a four year one in India. There were arguments for and against the introduction of a four year undergraduate program. While the four year college education would help students who aspire to go abroad for higher studies, the same would mean a disaster for students from a lower middle class section of the society, who want to quickly graduate and join the workforce.
Being brought up in India and having studied in the Indian education system, I believe that our higher secondary education and undergraduate programs are quite rigorous and they prepare students well to compete internationally. However, research, technology and life skill training are not strong points of our current (undergraduate/graduate) education system.
It would be a highly desirable move if the Indian education system decides to incorporate basic research training modules, technology and life skill training sessions in the curriculum. Also, investing in online learning management systems, databases and other resources can greatly benefit the above cause. Developing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform and providing some free MOOC education modules to students can be a major game changer in the field of Indian education system. Giving students full degree credit for completing MOOC courses can solve the three or four year degree dilemma.
The future of learning is fast changing, especially with the help of technology. With proper infrastructure, trained teachers and technology, access to quality education in every corner of India can become a possibility. Though it is a complex task, educational reform can begin when the following requirements are in order:
- Qualified teachers: Attracting and retaining top teaching talent is the key to solid and quality education. Unfortunately, the current pay structure, privileges and standard of living provided to a teacher are not very impressive. Regardless, most teachers invest because of their passion towards the field of education. Serious consideration must be given to attract brightest minds in academia.
- Major overhaul of learning resources, facilities and infrastructure.
- Fixing student teacher ratio in classrooms.
- Designing curriculum keeping the current industry standards and requirements in mind.
- Creating educational options that are flexible and can adapt with the changing times.
In the end, I would like to say that education reform should be such that it enhances student experience, gives them a robust standing wherever they may be, and open a variety of career avenues for them to choose from. From a faculty standpoint it should be such that it adds value, vigor and excitement in the life of the teachers. Finally, the expectation of the nation from an educational reform would mean -- well educated/informed citizens who are tolerant of one another, can comprehend the vastness of knowledge, understand and apply logic, innovate ideas that can start or sustain industries for job creation and become stalwarts for upcoming generations.