India is home to brilliant scientists, doctors, engineers, philosophers, and writers. But, the country is also home to scores of rote learners. These students memorise by heart the concepts they are taught, rather than understanding them. While it is easy to blame the students, the fault actually lies within our education system. The Indian education system does not leave room for understanding, analysis, and creativity.

Students in the Western world, on the other hand, are made to think about the concepts they are learning. The emphasis of the curriculum of schools in the United States and in Europe is on comprehension. Also, unlike India, the education system in the West enables the students to exercise a greater amount of choices regarding what they want to learn.

For instance, in India, students have the choice between Arts, Science, and Commerce streams after Class X. This segregation is rigid and lasts for their lifetime. In the United States, students are free to take up any subject that they wish to pursue. This system allows an arts graduate to become a doctor or an engineer. A science student can take up law or any other profession he or she may wish to. Apart from a wide array of subjects to choose from, students are also encouraged to learn at least one foreign language, and pursue performing or fine arts.

In our country, pupils have no option but to become rote learners because of the extreme importance attached, both by their parents and teachers, to their performance in a three-hour written examination. These examinations, however, are not a real test of a child’s comprehension ability. In reality, if the children are able to regurgitate all that they have memorised from their text books, they score top marks.

One of the biggest fallouts of this system of education is that it completely annihilates any imagination that the child may possess. Children in the US, in comparison, are marked on their project works apart from written tests. The project work often proves to be their acid test.

The Indian education system too should work towards developing a set-up where a child is not rated merely on the basis of marks scored in an exam. It is important to ensure that he carries his education all throughout his life. A greater flexibility in the choice of subjects also will be greatly appreciated by Indian students. Such a choice will only increase their opportunities.

It is often said that for a building to be strong its foundation should be rock solid. The same applies to an education system as well. Only if students are guided properly right from their first few years in school will they emerge as decisive and confident students later.

Younger students need to be introduced to every facet of learning, but, one step at a time. Child experts are of the view that at no point should the young students feel the pressure of education. According to them, the right balance between learning and fun must be stricken in order to make them enjoy in what they are learning.

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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi

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