Take a good look at the above picture. It is the celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti in a school. The male teacher is probably announcing something about Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar’s life and two lady teachers have decorated the picture and the table with flowers and a garland. But there is a glaring mistake in the photo. No, the photo does not show Babasaheb Ambedkar but Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Now think for one minute why this must have happened. Is it the fault of the teachers alone? Will the children grow up knowing about Babasaheb Ambedkar properly? Twenty years down the line, when one of these children grows up to become a teacher, will he/she be able to garland the photo of the correct person or will he/she continue to think that there is no difference between Netaji and Babasaheb?
To answer any of these questions, it is important to know the four underlying reasons for this.
- Incomplete history books
Anyone having a cursory look at the history books will observe some glaring facts:
- Other than Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, very few of our freedom fighters are credited for the freedom struggle. Leaders like Lal, Bal, Pal, Azad, Rajguru, Sukhdeo, Veer Savarkar, Jyotiba Phule, Sarojini Naidu, and so many more are just glossed over. How many children or teachers know about Sarojini Naidu’s contribution (She was the first Indian Woman President of INC) or why she was called the Nightingale of India?
- It has been found that not even one percent of the population knows about Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya or Rajaji or how any of our great Educational Institutions were built. Do we even teach about how Vishweshwaraiya built the largest reservoir/dam of Asia, immediately after Independence, which is still as good as new?
- 4000 odd years of rule by original inhabitants of India is just glossed over but 400 years of rule by invaders is taught about more.
- Indian students are probably taught more about Pakistan than about Mizoram or any of our own North Eastern States.
Such a sad state of affairs! So then, how does one expect the teachers to know about these leaders when they themselves have not learnt about them? How will we have pride in our country if we don’t know anything about our country at all?
- Non-existent refresher training of teachers
While the good private schools send their teachers for refresher training every year, the smaller private schools, government aided schools and the government schools have no scope for such training at all. Yes in some government aided schools it is there, but it is not regular or mandatory. Many of the schools have such sessions on paper, but actually do not conduct refresher courses at all. Indian History books still teach the Aryan Invasion Theory which is now disproved, the geography books still talk about textile mills in Mumbai and the Arithmetic books don’t even mention Indian Mathematicians. Changes like this are necessary and teachers have to be trained about these changes. Also, teachers could get bored of teaching the same thing again and again, and they do need to attend training camps where they could learn newer methods of teaching.
- Selection of teachers
One of the biggest problems we are facing is the selection of teachers on merit. Certain professions like teaching, judiciary, and medicine cannot and should not have selections based on caste or religion. This is because these are the professions on which the progress, health, prosperity and justice of the nation depends. So these professions have to be based only on merit. Another thing is that many people get into this profession not because of a love of teaching, but because they have not succeeded in getting into other professions. So we are not able to get the cream of society as teachers at all. This is not at all how it should be. Teacher should get the pride and prestige that they deserve, and also the salary they deserve. In many places, teachers work for just Rs.5,000 or less a month. This is not the salary that they deserve for the work they do.
- Wrong educational method
It is widely observed that children today just want to finish with their homework and scrape through exams. They have no love for the subject they are learning, nor do they try to be accomplished in any subject. Even the good students, the studious ones and the capable ones are just in it for the marks. If one were to listen to the children talk just before their exam, one would be surprised to hear them say for example, “Write the address properly – you will get 2 marks, write the salutation properly – you will get ½ marks, write the date – you will get ½ marks” … is this the way one learns to write a letter? By learning any subject in this manner, all they learn is to repeat instructions or lines from the text books word-to-word, but they have neither grasped the matter, nor do they love it. Imagine such children becoming the teachers of the next generation. What will they teach and what direction will education take in the future? India was once a country which prided itself on its knowledge and research skills. There is nothing that we had not discovered or presented to the world … we knew about atoms (Anu and Paramaanu) before people even discovered the microscopes. And now there is nothing that we can seem to build without foreign help. How did we come to this?
A deep introspection of our methods of teaching is required. The whole system of teaching in most schools is based on making the child hate studies instead of loving it. The Government must work towards making a massive change in this system of education, its biased books and untrained teachers. We owe it to the present as well as the future generations.