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The purpose of education is to empower the individual to succeed in the future. Success is
how the individual interprets it- maybe monetary, maybe respect at work. The model of the
education system in ancient civilizations like Greece empowered citizens to contribute
positively to the society. At that time, the greatest concerns for a state were security and
literature. Hence, military education and philosophy schools flourished, and the era produced
greatest examples of military strategies and literature works. However, the education system
today, especially in India, is anachronous with the current needs and times, and hence does
not prepare us for the future.

Let¶s look at this issue piecemeal, dividing education into time zones- school, college and
post graduation.

School: The education system in India is extremely rigid, giving one no space to follow one¶s
heart. Let¶s consider an instance- a child studying in the fourth grade. She loves clay
modelling, and is extremely gifted at it. Although too young to consider it as a profession, she
realizes one thing- she loves the activity. However, there is only one hour of special activities
class in a week, which is a long shot away from how much time she wants to spend making

In the seventh grade, she expresses her desire to spend extra hours in school learning pottery.
But her grades in school are not ³satisfactory´, and her parents consider it more appropriate
to send her to tuitions than some ³silly´ pottery class. As time passes, she falls prey to the
catch 22 of school and tuitions, and voila! We have lost another potential artist to
engineering, or medicine, where she spends the rest of her life in mediocrity.
How does such a system, in any way, prepare us for the future? Why should one study
science in high school when what one really wants to major in literature and theatre?
Although the onus can be transferred to parents for actually pushing their kids into ³safe´
careers, it is also because our education system does not have the bandwidth to support
students¶ aspirations. Juxtaposing this with the American education system, one realizes that
Indians just do not have the choice of doing anything other than ³confirm´ to the system.

College: Over to college. Let¶s see what happens in a college. At the beginning of first year,
µA¶ dreams of being an economist; µB¶ wants to take up a career in organic chemistry; µC¶
wants to attend linguistic classes under Noam Chomsky. At the end of third year, A writes an
MBA exam; B writes an MBA exam; C writes an MBA exam. Why? Because they have been
disillusioned by the education they received in college. They are sick of subjects that are
strictly confined to classrooms and teach things written 130 years ago. They want to escape
their professors, who hate their job, the college, their students and mankind. After having
studied hard and mugged hundreds of pages of text, students still do not know anything in
their streams of graduation. And they know that it will be impossible to make a living with
their skills and knowledge. Hence they take the conventional path- and become managers!

A few more words about ³skills´ here. When a person wishes to step into a professional life,
she is gauged by the skills she possesses, and relevant work experience. Our colleges devote
their entire time and resources teaching syllabus, but never concentrate on departing skills to
students. Moreover, how many colleges actually offer internships as a part of the curriculum?
Compare this to the Western education model, where the quality of your degree is determined
not only by coursework, but also research, internships and papers published. Unless this huge
deficit in our educational system is met, it will never be able to bridge the gap between an
educational and professional life.

Post graduation: Soon, a post graduation in India will start meaning ³MBA´. Now, I have
nothing against an MBA. It sure is a valuable, rigorous and enriching course. But how many
people take it up from a perspective of learning and personal enrichment? Very few, because
for most of us, it is simply an easy escape route to better pay packages.

What is the rationale behind a post graduation? It is to empower a graduate with greater
knowledge in her line of study, or enable professionals perform better at their jobs by gaining
greater skills that would help them maximize efficiency at their jobs. Obviously, going for a
higher course, a person naturally expects a positive deviation from her college classroom-
more interaction, real life learning, and concentration on practical implementation rather than
theoretical learning. But unfortunately, post graduation in India is not even close to how it
should be. More often than not, it is a boring extension of the college classroom, with no
value added. This is the very reason that of late, our country has not made a significant mark
in science and culture, in spite of our revered intellectual prowess.
Many aspects of the current educational setup demand review and change. Until concrete
steps are taken to reformulate our methodology of imparting education, we shall continue to
underutilize, even waste our youth, and this could have serious consequences in the future.
To conclude I would like to draw an analogy between our education system and the theory of
evolution which states that whenever members fail to modify their reaction in response to the
variation in the stimuli, that species is set on the way to extinction.

Mansi Joshi