Basic Education–Keeping Pace with The Changing Times…

(Published in Daijiworld TV & media network in 2019).

The essential question is, are we studying to be unemployed? The vast majority of students making this fatal mistake of selecting subjects that doesn’t provide any job in the future.  

Even now, the vast majority of students study Commerce, Arts, B Ed and a few other studies which do not have any future. Educational institutions are not responsible for your future in this business environment. Online trading will bring about many changes in the next five years. So kindly do not study blindly. The jobs that are available at District headquarters and local offices at present, would almost wholly be wiped off due to online trading (Rs10 000/- to Rs 15,000/-range jobs). Understand what happened to the post office, banking sector after introducing computers and email/what’s up. The same effect would be brought by online trading. You can see its impact already. Let us understand why I am saying this.


Approximately five decades back, having an essential degree level qualification in any stream was a significant achievement. Engineers and doctors were scarce and well respected. Three decades back, there was an explosion in the field of communication and information technology. Economic reforms took place. The entire scenario in terms of social, educational, professional, and geographical have changed in a short duration of time.


Under these sudden and massive changes, many of us were left clueless about the necessary fundamental changes in the educational sector. As a result, we encountered challenges at the very beginning of the professional career.


I strongly feel there is a need to shift the focus. The need of the hour is to have basic knowledge in science “irrespective of career selection later on.” 11th and 12th should be dedicated to the science stream. 1st-year degree onward, we may shift focus (Arts & Commerce). Looking at the trend, basic science knowledge could be an absolute necessity to understand and participate in fast-changing life scenarios. Only those concerned about clearing the subjects even with minimum grades may opt for Arts. Nevertheless, the vast majority should opt for science. I feel only very few should select commerce (only those aiming for CA/ICWA/CS). Even those aiming for professional life in commerce better study science in 11th and 12th full time, studying commerce-related subjects part-time parallelly (It’s challenging to study science subjects part-time). The study of the science stream provides higher levels of logical abilities compared to the other two streams. If we need to walk an extra mile if it benefits our studies and future, we should walk.


In short, out of 100 students, 90 % should opt for science stream (at least in 11th & 12th), rest 10% Commerce & Arts. it is as simple as that.


The study of science changes mental abilities to a great extent. We need to change the wrong perception that students opting for engineering / medical should only study science and science being basic studies, professional commerce subjects cannot be learned. This is a myth. Basic graduation in science can provide much more career choices than the Arts and commerce. The study of science increases our rational abilities to a great extent which the other two primary streams fail to do. 


Most of the office category jobs will be automatically disintegrated in the coming years due to automation and online trading. We already can witness the number of office people working in sectors like the bank has drastically reduced just by the introduction of computer. Online banking, use of ATM has drastically reduced customers immediate present for banking needs. What is up and Emails have destroyed the postal service. Mobiles have killed many industries. Landline is dead. We need to stop blindly joining commerce and Arts studies. Have a survey on this and understand the need of the hour. Even Dealers / Traders / Distributors are encountering severe threats to their existence due to online trading. Everything comes to the doorstep in minutes, including food.


A day may arrive soon where the reading glasses (specs) we use may be designed to read our thoughts in the brain!


The other view is that in the wake of current developments, maybe an engineering degree is a basic necessity like it was for Three-year degree courses before the information technology boom. In such a scenario, we should ready to accept the ‘status of engineering studies. ‘The scope and range of engineering studies need to be increased, adding more and more specific topics. Many underrated engineering streams like instrumentation, production, environmental .chemical engineering, etc., should be considered more actively. 


“Subjects having smaller range should be expanded” into fully grown engineering courses to have a broader range for selection. This may prevent students from opting for traditional engineering courses like mechanical, computer science, etc., and choking later.

Students and parents should consider the study of arts over commerce. The field of psychology needs to be explored because social scenario warrants more psychologists/counselors. Depression will be a considerable challenge, along with a drastic increase in suicide cases in the coming decades. The study of psychology should be made compulsory at the high school level. A doctorate qualification in psychology after basic graduation can do wonders in terms of career stability. I believe the scope for going for doctorate qualifications in science and arts subjects after basic graduation is much more than commerce subjects. Many persons’ desire to suffix “Dr” in front of their names will be fulfilled this way, giving a healthy career and social recognition.


Many of us talk about selecting our passion for studies. At the age of 16, the level of maturity and awareness a student has is questionable to select their entire future. More importantly, how to decide what passion they have is not an easy task. A few professionals use questionnaires to identify the talent is not a valuable and trustworthy procedure. Many of us find our passion on the way of life’s journey. Sixteen years of age is not an age to decide on the future. It is also important to note that the passion we talk about may be oversupplied already, and making a career out of it may be a tough challenge and could be a waste process. A lot of research and career possibilities must be done before “selecting and serving our passion.” We can witness many disasters going after passion and struck. 


In this situation, a generalized stream of education which provides a platform to spread activities matching all type of would-be scenarios could be an ideal selection. Science stream can provide that sprint pit leading to victory stands.


Many of us blindly study subjects that are irrelevant other than Indian conditions and want to migrate. Parents/students should have a clear picture of future goals like plans for migration to Europe / US/Canada and design their primary education matching the demands of such counties. Eg;-Studying the French language could be helpful if we are planning to immigrate to Canada. A constant watch on the political scenario of the would-be host country must be kept in a watch. 


Another important aspect is to have half-day school timings which are almost absent other than metro cities. As a result of half days, creative activities are being wasted. Whatever valid reasons schools/parents have, especially working couples, no one thinks about its harm on children’s overall growth. Imagine present-day students are immersed in studies 12 hours a day, six days a week, much more than an adult work professionally! This is the reason why our children are falling prey to an emotional vacuum leading them to be aggressive and deviated. When I was finishing this article, I read in the daily local newspaper that a ’12-year-old student and an IIT student’ committed suicide! Students have good memories in their pen drive, knowledge in their cell phone (Google), intelligence in their memory power, and bad memories in mind. We need to change the location. Half the problem we face will be eliminated automatically.


The time has come for children to understand the trouble parents take them to educate. Make them earn their pocket money like in western countries. This also led to the understanding of the value of money and efforts, which in turn raises responsible behaviors and focuses on studies. An increase in responsibility increases discipline also. Children should understand the sacrifices behind the luxury they enjoy. Short-time job opportunities (during vacation) are plentiful and readily available in many forms now. 


At least one month every year during school vacation, every student should work. The insights gained in working like this help immensely when they enter the actual job market after completing the education.


Authorities in the educational sector need to understand the need and necessity of half-day school timings. We need to do this for the betterment of the student community. Increase physical activities and a sense of responsibility to prevent life from falling and failing at early stages. 


The other option at school those want full-day school is to dedicate most of the second half-session after lunch, at least two hours exclusively for various sporting activities instead of 45 minutes in between, which serves no purpose. Let us think and act differently to get different results than the current trend. Once students reach home after playing, they will be fully charged to get into homework. The most significant evil children facing is the total collapse in physical activities. Prevent this.


Finally, the quality of teaching staff. I regularly meet a few at various locations across few countries. The vast majority of them are stagnant with what they studied before joining as teachers, just read out and explain from the textbook even now. Beyond that, the qualities of teaching are utterly absent in teaching staff. Students are told to do their practical from the sites available on Google. Copy and paste. Unfortunately, many schools call this a student’s creativity. Parents are either not capable of understanding this, or they do not bother! Every year the same topic is given for particular class students for practical! No efforts to increase the power of reasoning which should have been the main aim for sending children to school. Education is to train the brain to think logically.


Nevertheless, the actual reality is different. “Memory power has been recognized wrongly as an intelligence.” This is why only one or two students stand out differently because their parent’s involvement is a significant contributor to success and performance.


The first surgery needed in the educational sector is to increase the quality of teaching staff and keep them creative, upgraded all the time. At least an hour or two every week should be dedicated to this by every school management. This may not sound very pleasant for some people, but it is the reality. Their job has massive responsibilities.


The process of “Open House” should be applied to everyone, every level of studies including elite studies. There should be at least 6 such meetings in a year at school compulsorily at a junior level. It is also essential to take this process to students’ homes. The class teacher and the staff should visit every student’s home under him/her ‘without prior notice’ to understand the actual environment at the student’s home. This will help to understand the overall situation of the student, enhance performance and prevent deviations. It is the environment at home that makes all the difference for a student.


There was a time when poverty destroyed many careers, which luxury, addictions, separations, etc., have replaced.

 Let me end this article with a quote from the genius Albert Einstein; “education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Under the current system, what remains with us we are witnessing around us; depressed, jobless, and clueless youth. Do not think that the unemployment and the hopeless situation are due to government policy alone. It has everything to do with our blind academic selection, status mindset, and preventing ourselves from going the extra mile when needed. We need to change.


Vincent D’sa, Dubai.


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