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India Today School Summit 2017: Here's all that is wrong with our education system

Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 05:14

With the collapse of joint families, schools have an important role to play in educating students. 

Speakers Col. Gopal Karunakaran, CEO, Shiv Nadar Schools, Suman Nandy, Founder and Director, Epaathsala, Sharad Agarwal, Founder, ISDM, and Prateek Bhargava, CEO and Founder, Mindler, talk on how schools can help shape better individuals.  

The concluding session of the second edition of the India Today School Summit began with a discussion on the idea of a perfect school. 

"Fundamentally, we are shaped by two things-nature and nurture. Schools are often associated with nurturing. Students between the age of three and 18 spend over 60 per cent of their time in the school, therefore schools are a deep source of nature too, in that they can help recognise the child's inherent talent and then provide opportunities to hone that. That's what a great school will do," said Gopal Karunakaran, CEO, Shiv Nadar Schools. 

Suman Nandy, founder and direcor, Epaathsala took the discussion forward by talking about our obsession with the formal rating system. 

"Not every aspect requires a formal rating system. That is not necessary. A national rating standard speaks about 12 outcomes that should be achieved by students. Of these, only six are related to knowledge and learning. Things like ethics, compassion, and communication are equally important and these can't be measured on a scale. Schools should pay attention to these and address these in their day-to-day methodologies," he said. 


This is where Prateek Bhargava, CEO and founder, Mindler, stepped in and brought to light the fact that the Indian education system is rooted in rote learning. "Discussion of new ideas is something that is limited to very few schools across the country. There is a huge gap in the implementation of education. We need to realise that we are training students for a future that we don't know about. We need to inculcate skills that will be relevant 10 years from now. Things like collaborative thinking ,social intelligence, and problem solving need to be taught. Right now, mass schools are like factories," he said. 

Another problem, according to Sharad Agarwal, founder, ISDM, is the low cost of education in the country. 

"The larger challenge is that school education in our country is very cheap and that is why we don't attract the right talent. Even private schools don't attract the best talent," he said. "Another problem is that teachers need to have limited number of students. We have teachers who have come through a limited education system and on top of that teaching is left to a limited number of people with very limited perspectives. We need to understand that they come from very different backgrounds to understand the gap in education today," he added. 

According to Agarwal, with the collapse of joint families, schools have an important role to play in educating students. If we don't do a good job of this, students, even those from elite schools, will end up growing up with a limited perspective. 


Karunakaran added to this saying, "We are shaped by the people around us-our peers, teachers and students. The key is to get ideas from them and incorporate these into schools. Ideas can only come through repetition, great teachers and culture of conversations in schools." He also shed light on another problem that is often ignored, the privatisation of the school education system. "This is a very disturbing trend and a very dangerous situation to be in. A country's system will collapse if the education is completely privatised," he said. 

The answer to all these problems, according to Bhargava, is technology. "We should embrace it, adopt it and focus on strategic human intervention," he said.