India today has the largest K-12 education system in the world, with over 260 million enrolments. Once the child gets admission, the parent gets assured that school will imbue all required knowledge, skills and values that one needs for the next level of life. Hence there should be a direct link between education imparted and requirements at the corporate world. But as per industry feedback, there exists a gap between student’s knowledge and corporate requirements.
The emergent industry requirements
In the past after independence, most of the job opportunities were available in manufacturing, service or government sector were completing the task with the pre-defined process was the aim, and so was our education system. The child was supposed to follow a routine, learn as per text and write exams, and the one who writes the same as mentioned in the book gets maximum numbers. Innovative thinking was not the focus area for education institutes.
With the advent of globalisation and economic diversification, the MNC’s entered and they started looking for ‘innovative’ people who can help them get the market share. With the increase in competition among MNC’s the requirement of innovative skilful youth goes up.
The end of the 20th century witnessed growth in the service sector with India shaping up as back-office support to word companies. A lot of BPO’s and KPO’s entered. ‘Language proficiency’ became an important skill set for a job in this sector.
With the beginning of the 21st century, social networking platforms become relevant, internet connectivity has improved. These factors united the market. There was growth in online, advertising and branding sector. The industry started looking for ‘creative’ people for employment.
Presently we are experiencing another shift in the market. Youth is looking for entrepreneurship rather than employability. We have seen that people are quitting jobs and starting their business, but only a few are getting success.
Other than new sectors or companies, technological advancement has also brought change in requirements. ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is a new concept in technology, which is affecting the majority of companies and their requirements.
The growth in technology and innovation is changing the nature of jobs at a very fast pace. The survey by the World Economic Forum shows that 65% of the children entering primary school now, will find themselves in jobs that do not exist today.
Challenges at the school level
The constant job transformations created the need for education institutes to review their curriculum and teaching styles. Though big institutes have adapted to the change, the majority of schools are still lagging behind. Moreover the learning gap between village, town, city and metropolitan is so big that expecting the change at all level at the same time is tough to assume.
Today there are a lot of technological interfaces which compliment school’s teaching like smart boards, youtube channels, edtech start-ups like BYJU’s, tech devices like Alexa etc, but due to unawareness or cost factors, not all schools are adopting IT interface in their teaching style.
To bring standardisation in education, schools are advised by the government to use books from NCERT, which is good, but the curriculum is not in line with industry requirement. Moreover, if we go to small towns or interiors we realise that even the basic minimum defined by the government for schools are missing. Though the students are getting educated from such schools, they are not being considered suitable for the next level.
The evaluation process is still based on the cramming of books and writing exams. In today’s time information is available at the click of a button so even if one doesn’t remember, he/she can find it in a jiffy. Hence the challenge is not remembering the information but its usability as knowledge.
Though the government has taken steps for educational reforms, like – online availability of all NCERT books, creating ATL – but the speed needs to be in line with industry transformations.
Few of the suggestions are as below:
Adopt Hub and spoke model
Few schools are adopting all modern techniques and ways to educate their students as required. But there are schools where the education standards are below expectations. It’s the basic responsibility of government to make systems where good practices of one school should reach to other schools.
The way government is supporting regional rural banks by mapping them with a bigger bank, in the same way, the schools at smaller towns should be mapped with a bigger brand school. It should not be a coercive scheme but motivational by extending some benefits to bigger brand whichever gets ready to extend support
Categorise Schools as per education quality
Presently the government categories schools as Middle, Secondary and Senior Secondary. This categorisation defines education level but they don’t focus on the quality of education.
The government should define standard parameters for quality in education. Each school should be evaluated and categorised on the basis of its achievement on pre-defined parameters. The state or central government or private owners should focus to move their schools to the top category. The schools’ categorisation should be published on a yearly basis.
Change in evaluation methods or teaching methods
The governments should adopt a case study based education system to enhance the creative side of the student along with concepts. For senior classes where students have a centralised exam, open book exams should also be introduced. It will help the student to learn the ways to conduct secondary research in an organisation.
The government should take help from industry experts and create its own cloud-based virtual learning interface. It should be implemented free of cost in all the schools to enhance the teaching standards by giving suitable access to both teachers and students. Moreover, whenever needed, the government can modify or upgrade the content centrally.
Industry Interaction Programs
The schools should arrange industry interaction programs to help students understand organisational functioning and expectations, along with new opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.
Let’s hope that in times to come, every school from village to metropolitan imparts similar quality to its students and makes India a formidable force to conquer..