Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Education Divide: A call to arms

I have followed PISA scores in the past, India has never participated in PISA before, when I heard Barack Obama stating that Chinese students are beating Americans at math, science and reading, I always assumed Indians would too, after all don't we have millions of students appearing for competitive exams each year, don't we all study nights to become good "engineers", as mummy and daddy want?

PISA is an international forum for assessment in math, reading and science (I checked out the sample questions, they are quite simple with no cultural bias, so those claiming cultural biases can keep their mum), PISA is given a large sample space by the government of a country, after which they randomly select schools in that region to administer the standard test. Traditionally US has finished somewhere in the middle, beaten by most other first world countries and China and few other Asian  countries (notably Japan).

 "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will." 
-Thomas Jefferson

Education is paramount to keeping the progress in India on track, I already had a bad opinion of our generation (based on the observation of a larger non-university set), after looking at the PISA scores I feel like a curtain was cruelly lifted and the world view I saw was very far removed from the reality. I feel enraged that our students are deliberately kept in the dark through means like vernacular learning, bad teachers and inadequate funding. I have subtly pointed out in past posts that languages spoken by smaller groups of people across the world need to be eradicated, and a universal standard language needs to be adopted, this will standardize all channels of communication. These results are a huge reason to do so.

These results were taken from Tamil Nadu and Himachal pradesh, 5000 students from english medium schools sat for the tests, now the problem is that most states switch to english as a medium of instruction only after primary school or middle schools, and the state governments encourage this as they get a voter base fiercly divided on linguistic lines, basically brainwashing them from primary school. As a result of this when these students facesay science and history in english, they are baffled, and this leads to de-motivation and poor performance and will result in stunted academics, as the tests show.

A simple solution to this problem is to universalize the medium of instruction.

This issue should be of paramount importance, pushing aside middle-class non-issues such as the Lokpal Bill, the country needs to get enraged and fast, because as we speak our next generation of half-baked engineers and politicians is being eduated to be as bad as we are. 

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