The Demographic Advantage and our Education System?
The much touted Indian Demographic Advantage has been languishing and trying to find its way to a better life. Unfortunately, the powers that be haven’t been able to provide the jobs they had promised and the parents have their own ideas regarding their children’s careers. The question now is not how many hands we have on deck but that if we have a deck that can accommodate the hands that we have or will it capsize the ship before we learn to take advantage of our talents. Right now it is every man for himself.
The matriculation and higher secondary exam results are rolling out and it has been quite some time that I have been wondering about the demographic advantage or should I say the lack of India’s youth. In the recent years we have gone from talking about the advantage of being the youngest country to the demographic bomb and demographic catastrophe. I for one had a lot of hopes with the youth of India. I still have, but it seems that we are adamant at wasting away this advantage. The biggest drawback I believe, as a person interested in the education sector is how to improve our education system. That I think is the root of the problem. Why do we have a fair amount of educated people who are unemployable? I started by looking at facts and figures about students and dropouts. I studied our whopping education budget and money that is donated by our industrialist-philanthropists, money coming from abroad, which by the way has doubled in the past few years according to a report. I also went through the statistics about children studying in private schools and the majority of children in public schools. That is a vast topic by itself.
So I think I would tackle it in parts rather than the whole. Pointing out the problems seems much easier. However, if we don’t look at the problems we cannot talk about the solutions. Personally I do it for my own learning.
The rat race
We in India have mastered the art of rat race. We have applied that in the education sector too. Most of us are not interested in what our wards are doing and what they would like to do, but how they are doing in comparison to the neighbor’s kid. While they are small we do like to exhibit their singing and dancing skills to all our relatives and friends, but when the time comes to notice their skills seriously we ignore them and become strict disciplinarians who want children to study hard. The only concession we allow them is TV b breaks because that’s what we want to do after a long hard day at work.
While a lot of parents are opening their eyes to alternative careers in sports and music, we are still narrow-minded about our engineers and doctors. However, in our zeal to see children succeed, we either overlook our child’s education or make them overwork to get through the exams somehow, since we believe we have found their calling.
Finding their own path
We must allow our children to find their own path and walk on it at their own pace. I remember earlier generations used to be pushed into a career by getting them married. ‘Once he has responsibility he will start earning’ it was said. People have become a lot more independent, but the mentality remains. We as parents still believe in coxing and nudging our children into fields that we think are lucrative and high earning. Some jobs have changed the game thankfully. That neighborhood kid we thought was going to become a junkie and waste his life has suddenly bought a new car. He is now a Software Engineer. That other kid who used to be wasting his parents’ money and party all the time has bought a new flat. He became an Event Manager. Parents do not have any idea where to push their child. They still search for a suitable career though. What they fail to understand is that the answer is not outside, but within. A child’s talent whatever it could be can be nurtured. In one of my lectures I was asking students what they believed their talents were and what they would like to become. One of them answered that he loved to sleep all the time. Now that is a talent. I am sure that there is a job for him out there somewhere. Sleepwell?