We may have heard it from critics and experts, but when this little achiever of Indian origin spoke about the ills clouding our education system, few could remain in doubt about it.
Only recently Neha Ramu – the 12-year-old Indian-origin girl in the UK who outscored such greats as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking in the IQ test – stated that the Indian education system was “exam-oriented and stressful”, with a focus on memorising rather than understanding.
Neha scored an impressive 162 in her IQ test about a month ago. This puts the spotlight back on an age-old question: What ails teaching the most? Is it lack of qualified teachers or the absence of curricula with a focus on understanding?
Offering a perspective on the issue S Devakanni, project director of India Trust, an NGO that focuses on human resource development and policy advocacy in education training, says, “The issue has at its root the necessity to stimulate the pleasure of learning in students. Once teachers are able to achieve this, then it is possible to give encyclopaedic knowledge to the students.”
Conceding that teaching is a tough task, Ashish Rajpal, co-founder and CEO of iDiscoveri, an organisation that offers teaching solutions for schools, calls for a change in teaching methodology. A graduate of Harvard University, Rajpal feels that most existing modes of learning have their share of flaws. “The Samacheer Kalvi, for instance, has only changed what needs to be learnt but has not addressed how it must be done.”
Devakanni says students must be able to talk at length while learning. “Even factual subjects such as history can be made enlivening if introduced in inspiring forms like time lines. Subjects can be linked to one another, making for a complete learning experience.” For this, she feels teachers must possess in-depth knowledge. In a corollary, Rajpal adds that teachers need to be equipped with books that help them in this regard. “Books with details of what to teach, along with lesson plans, is necessary. After all, even the most zealous of teachers tend to lose out on motivation.”
The two are unanimous that visual aids are the basis for the future of education. Such changes are feasible in Tamil Nadu as the people here are more willing to experiment with educational methodologies than others, according to Rajpal.