One of my keen interests is Education/Teaching/Learning. I have been associated with formal/informal learning as a student and faculty all my life, and have seen the education system in India, the UK and US (to some extent) very closely.
I feel outraged at the dismal state of Indian education system. It is a more serious issue than any other issue we can imagine. After all, India accounts for close to 1/5th of world’s population. More importantly, India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan! All these people are going to demand a job/profession/career for next 4-5 decades. If we are not able to create jobs/opportunities for them, we are going to end up in huge social unrest, maybe, civil war. Yes, it may sound dramatic, but it’s possible.
Anyways, I don’t want to talk about the broader issues, because the purpose of this blog is something else.
You might have great stories about certain Anand Kumar from Bihar who shot to fame after many of his students from underprivileged background cracked the IIT Joint Entrance Exam (entrance exam for various Indian Institute of Technology, supposed to be the toughest). His Super 30 program came to limelight since it was seen as challenging an established industry of IIT coaching classes across India, but mainly Kota in Rajasthan.
Anand is even more in limelight of late, because of a biopic starring Hrithik Roshan is going to release soon. Here is a promo of that movie:
If you watch some of his other interviews on Youtube, you would very quickly realize that he is controversial, maybe because of his fame/success. Though I am interested in watching this movie, I doubt if it would be an honest film (the movie tries to portray him as a demi-god and a selfless, role model…which may not be the case).
More than film, I was more in understanding this IIT Coaching model. I have had first experience of similar model for Medical Entrance exams (as a Sales/Marketing person). I have seen similar “industry” for the Xth/XIIth and CA, CFA. But nothing is as close to the IIT Entrance Exam – except maybe UPSC/IPSC Entrance Coaching. Actually UPSC/IPSC Entrance Coaching would be bigger than IIT Coaching, but more about it some other day.
So I was searching for more stuff about the IIT Coaching industry and found two web series. One is called “Lakhon Mein Ek” (One in a million) which is available on Amazon Prime. I am yet to watch it, but it has got great reviews and high rating of 8.4 on IMDb!
There is another very good web series available on Youtube called “Kota Factory“, named after “factory” like coaching classes in Kota, Rajasthan. Do watch it!
India is all about “mass” and hence nothing except a “factory” model wold work in India. Student to Faculty ratio in many developed countries is typically between 10:1 or 15:1. That is for every 10-15 students there is one teacher. In India, it could be as high as 80:1 or upto 500:1! Yes, it’s a sad reality. And the lesser said the better about quality of these teachers.
Our 10th class group came together 6-7 years ago and wanted to donate some fund to our school. We approached school and asked if we could help build toilets or arrange water dispenser etc. To our surprise, the teacher said that we should gift an overhead projector and a subscription of class 8th digital/multimedia curriculum (developed by a private, listed company).
You may feel that the school had become hi-tech and would be a great school. Far from it! They wanted it because they were really short of teachers. Our school has 6 divisions for each standard. For example, for 8th standard there would be – 8th A through F (though, now they don’t call it as A-F…they have some fancy names of flowers and fruits etc). Each division has 60-70 students. So 480-550 students in one standard. There are 6 such standards – from 5th to 10th. So the school has close to 3000 students!
How many teachers would the school have? Not more than 40. Maybe 30 (who are full-time or experienced teachers for core subjects). So the student-faculty ratio is 75:1 or maybe 100:1!
What kind of personal connect, guidance can the teachers give?
Hence the school just set up overhead projectors, played multimedia kit, virtual learning modules to cope up. And the funny part was – they did it for “lower” divisions – which are less academically motivated. And parents of those students were happy that their kids are learning from virtual learning tools, which never existed when they used to go to school!
So, lack of teachers is covered by a facade of “hi-tech” learning experience and parents/ students are totally happy about it!
Mind you, this was a school in the heart of the city which is touted as “Oxford of The East“. Not some remote town or a village in the interior parts of India. You can just imagine what would be the situation there.
We might choose to celebrate the “success” of Anand Kumar/ Super 30 or other such people. Actually it’s a dark case study on the dismal state of education system in India. And this should worry us far more than anything that grabs space in newspaper, TV discussion or our minds.
The demographic “dividend” that we talk about may soon because the “curse” if we do not reform our education system and make it future-ready.