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How Inclusive Have We Been? – A Unified Education System

“How inclusive have we been?” – A Unified Education System

In a class of 40, how many students actually score above 40?

Let’s say, a teacher just explained the concept of Reflection & Refraction in that class. How many can explain it back in their own terms? How many actually understood it in its complete sense? 

Now, are the other 50-70% students weaker in their abilities? Or were they not really addressed by us, the teachers, with their unique learning styles?

Well, a teacher is a teacher to all 40 students and is obliged to create a complete understanding in all 40 minds. Every teacher holds so much creativity within, which flourishes in a moment of excitement and vigor for the art. So, how do we miss out on a larger set of students? Is it really because we don’t go the extra mile or do we unconsciously lack inclusivity in classrooms?

Bill Gates once said, “If you are born poor it’s not your fault, but if you die poor it’s yours.” Going by that, if we teachers are brought up in an environment of neglect or noninclusive to all ways of learning, it’s not our fault. But if we don’t act upon our neglect, it is our failing.

The lack of a unified system

Let’s come down to an inter-school comparison of inclusivity of students. In India, Kendriya Vidyalaya & Govt. schools are both government-led institutions, and both pay similar good salaries to their teachers. But more often than not, govt. school students miss out on quality teachers. Mostly, the teachers they get lack proper knowledge themselves. Other times, they lack the sheer will to enlighten and interest the students coming from poor socio-economic backgrounds about the importance of education.

Let’s come to America. In this capitalist economy, schools have better facilities but more often than not, it sees people of color as outsiders (even if they’ve been living for generations). The government and administration view resourcing their education as philanthropy and not their unbiased duty, and consider it as straining the resources for the whites.

In fact, this form of racism is rooted in South Africa itself where the blacks in their own country have to fight for their education rights since 1955. Even now in this extremely poor country, children struggle for resources and trained teachers.

Though we see a robust education system in China with primary and secondary education backed by the government,  poor village students still lack equally trained teachers and adequate resources. Moreover, charges for food and co-curricular activities still exist in such schools.

All of this begs the question. Don’t learners of the same country from the same government deserve a unified system of quality education? Do they deserve to be led by their fate of having Government Worker parents, their skin color, financial capacities, or just an equal opportunity as children of one nation?

It’s not that there hasn’t been an effort…

NCERT(National Council for Educational Research and Training) is one initiative of the Indian Government that publishes books for classes I to XII following a uniform CBSE curriculum along with digital availing on E-Pathshala

But is having a unified curriculum an assurance to uniform efforts in transmitting that education? 

After the long-prevailing need for an update, the National Education Policy, 2020 brought in some reforms in methods of teaching such as Emphasis on Mother Tongue until class 5, activity-based learning below class 2, coding and internships in class 6, multi-disciplinary flexible subjects in classes 9-12, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, etc. But how widely and efficiently are these changes implemented in light of an India where neither vocational and additional subjects in high school are available in more than 50% of the schools in the country nor the skill electives for class XII.

Besides, how updated and relevant is the NCERT syllabus for all such subjects in today’s fastest-growing society, technology, and lifestyle behaviors? If that wasn’t enough, there is an innate divide between schools with NCERT curriculum and those with other syllabi. With so many boards in the country, Indian students often struggle to cope with different boards.

Well, NEP does echo us somewhere and so do the Chinese Govt.’s efforts in vocational education. So do America’s efforts in guiding parents and students in high school and higher education plans

However, we, as UN Secretary-General, demand evident implementation at the micro and global levels at the same time. The UNESCO report, titled ‘Reimagining our Futures Together: A New Social Contract for Education,’ emphasizes intercultural and ecological learning anchored in social, economic, and environmental justice. Read about António Guterres’ message here.

COVID in action

In light of change, Covid has questioned everything. From virtual education to increased opportunities and challenges in learning, it has proved to be a true catalyst of growth in the world of learning. Be it just an awareness of what’s not right, an interest in exploring global systems and resources, or initiated actions in regard to deeper learning and practical applications by learners and teachers alike — everyone has gained something. 

The emerging E-learning supplements, hybrid schooling, and high involvement of tech have had different results for everyone. On one side, the privileged and conscious learners flourished in growing capacities, and on the other side, this left the disadvantaged drastically behind. Firstly, the access to devices and proper Internet, a sound knowledge of tech for using that technology for virtual classrooms and online assignments, and the adaptability to understand through virtual boards and lectures. All of this is still a challenge to many remote rural learners across the world. 

Moreover, consistency in imparting that education is also sacrificed. In Australia, education is governed by individual States and Territories whose jurisdiction further varied in lieu of COVID cases. For instance, the school holidays were effectively brought forward by a number of days at the end of term one in South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria to give principals and teachers additional time to prepare for remote learning in term two. But while South Australian public school students returned to school on the first day of term two, Victorian pupils were still learning from home six weeks later.

Secondly, social isolation and the children’s need for inattention and supervision at the same time (to encourage freewheeling creativity and understanding respectively) have made it difficult for learners to engage naturally.

Simply put, the challenges that covid has brought upon has increased the need for a unified system that caters to different learning styles. Because learning is not just a monolog by a teacher, conversation with a learner, or mere reading or watching an animation – it is an experience of a complete learning process where all of the senses are well engaged to induce learning in different styles.

Global access to learning resources

What is it like to taste new waters, meet new people, and face new challenges every day (so tough that your survival can be at stake)? It’s surely a thorough experience however thrilling it turns out to be too different individuals. Well, this is the exact dream of learners around the globe intending to enter exchange programs for learning new skills in a new environment. 

In the new wave of learning, access to courses from global institutions and professionals has been a boon to ambitious and dedicated minds. Be it offline or online, it is always aspirational to have a world-class learning experience. But it hasn’t been easy either. Amidst the tedious application process, cross-country laws, financial burden, and decent accommodation in the unfamiliar world – there’s a basic challenge of University guidelines for eligibility and academic adaptability to fit in the learning environment. This makes their very first decision of Choice of University challenging enough for some adults to give up on the idea. 

This brings us back to the question of inclusivity in classrooms at a global level. All a learner is asking for is an opportunity to interact with global minds with their unique worldview on topics of common interest. They have been following the system they’re part of and are so ready to follow the new ones. Is their ineligibility their fault? Don’t they deserve a unified system welcoming them only based on their talent and a strong determination to learn and explore?

Just think for a minute…

Shouldn’t we focus on 40 under 40?

Shouldn’t we focus on EACH in a class of EVERYONE?

Shouldn’t EACH be EVERYONE (every child) across the world?

How can we be content with Finland’s education system or Chinese or Japanese or Indian or the latest amendments in America, when a larger part of the world’s children is still deprived of their basic right to get access to quality education? 

Vasudev Kutumbakam” (The whole world is our family) is a line from a Sanskrit scripture, Maha Upanishad is what our world tries to live by or at least the idealist section of the society. However, how can we implement this line in our world without striving for a unified education system for EACH and EVERY child across the globe that addresses their individual needs to nurture their minds to thrive and open the world for them?

What we are left to focus on

Inclusivity is considering all children around the world as equal humans with varied needs to cater to their diverse learning environments and unique individual skill sets. They all deserve equal support not just from their geographic governing bodies but from their world family in terms of resources and a unified system. To enable such an education, we need:

  • Trained and qualified Teachers in every little-big school
  • Equitable resources to every child and school
  • Minimized learning gap amongst students

Is this fair allocation achievable? Are we pledging to do everything to fill in the inclusion of the most unexpected? How are we doing that? Finally, can an inclusive and unified education system empower our future generations more? We’ll leave it to you to answer that.

Categories
Current Affairs Education General

The Reservation System: A Disgrace or A Necessity?

Photo by Alfred Quartey on Unsplash

Reservation systems occur in various countries like Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is available in slightly modified forms in MANY other countries—the policy of affirmative action in the USA, Brazil’s vestibular policy, quotas for Swedish speakers in Finland, and so on. The idea behind all these initiatives is pretty much the same. They aim to give racially discriminated groups additional numbers in order to ensure equal representation. 

What is the reservation system?

Reservation is a system meant to provide historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment, and politics. It involves a process of reserving a certain percentage of seats for certain groups perceived as availing lesser opportunities than those more privileged. It aims to empower them and ensure their participation in the decision-making of various important sectors. 

Putting the reservation system into perspective 

Let’s say you want to read more about the implications of the reservation system. Or about the green star. What would you do? Maybe run a quick search on any search engine, read TutorHere blogs, or the likes.

What if your internet is down? Maybe a quick run to the nearest café. And if you live in an area not very technologically advanced, maybe a pit stop at the library to read up on it. Either way, you use to access resources more easily available to you. 

Growing up, not all learners have access to the same amount of resources. Some have access to resources that have very little (or even no) value, as such. Some individuals from these disadvantaged communities come from homes that aren’t used to dreaming or having goals. Homes were becoming a doctor or an engineer seems like a dream just too good to be true. Or they just struggle due to a general bias against them in a specific society. 

Enter the reservation system. 

The reservation system sets aside a specific quota for these groups. Or takes these disadvantages into account so as to give them more opportunities. However, the big debate revolving around this is if it takes away the merit from ‘merit’. 

Researvation: A discredit to merit? 

The criticism against the reservation system has a few points of argument. To quickly break this down and give you an overview, the reasons include: 

  • Reservations generally benefit just a small fraction of the groups intended to benefit from it 
  • They tend to make these groups feel inferior, less motivated to work hard to achieve their goals, and create animosity between the groups that don’t have a reserved quota 
  • It perpetuates division and further makes the demarcation against these groups clearer 

Summing up, the argument against reservation focuses on the fact that trying to provide opportunities to support certain groups is in turn, fueling this division that disadvantaged them in the first place. It also gives room for politics to come into play and create animosity from those who have a higher merit score but can not get a seat. 

Reservation: An opportunity to dream? 

There are also quite a few points speaking for the reservation. And a brief look at these include: 

  • The reservation system quotas aren’t filled with those meant to benefit from it. Thus, this could be a sign that we need to work on the system
  • This protects the supported groups from privatisation of educational institutions and contractualisation of employment 
  • Reservation systems helps the social and psychological integration of these various groups 
  • Reservation is merely an entry criterion and does not compromise on performance of the individual 

Overall, it’s an argument that privilege stops us from really understanding what the reservation system is aiming for. Studies also show that “gains in learning are higher in elite institutions compared to non-elite institutions.” So while the reservation system may not be the solution to discrimination, it could be a temporary makeshift until we can improve our systems of education to ensure everyone has access to equal resources. 

reservation as an opportunity
Photo by Alexis Brownon Unsplash 

Conclusion 

Many countries still continue to debate the implications of the reservation system. While some struggle to keep it in place, others think it to be a disgrace to economic progress. However, the question is, if the economic progress is substantially benefitting all (Read more on the importance of education for all, here).

As usual, the takeaways from this article are entirely yours. What’s the verdict? The reservation system – A disgrace to modern society or a necessary plow to even the playing field? 

Categories
Develpoment Education Humanities

The social context of education: Are we doing enough?

Photo by Tim Marshallon Unsplash

There’s a marshmallow in front of you. 

No, this isn’t a promotion, and you aren’t getting samples (sorry!), but imagine I keep a marshmallow in front of you. Of course, I will give you the classic catch. If you wait till I come back, without eating the marshmallow, you get TWO of them. The choice seems obvious, right? Wait and get two marshmallows. Or maybe you’d rather carpe diem with that one marshmallow. Either way, what does it have to do with education?

Am I merely grabbing your attention by mentioning a fluffy, sugary treat? Maybe. BUT, did you know that the decision you would make in this actual marshmallow situation could tell quite a bit about your personality? Skeptical? Good. Allow me to elaborate. 

The Marshmallow Test and Education

‘The Marshmallow Test’ written by Walter Mischel elaborates on his famous experiment with marshmallows. Not to get into too much detail, but the author discusses how those who chose to wait for the second marshmallow had higher SAT scores and better social as well as cognitive functioning. They are then seen to have a better sense of self-worth. The comparison between those who could wait, and those who couldn’t, were characterized by different brain scans in areas relating to addictions and obesity. 

So a “no” to eating the marshmallow? Nope. That’s a personal choice. But notice how behavioral patterns in children sort of projects themselves onto adolescence and above? That’s what we’re focusing on in today’s blog. 

Social context of education 

The social context of education refers to external factors that affect a child’s educational opportunities. These factors include social background, family structure, socio-economic status, the learning environment, differences and diversity in school, resource equity, and so on.

For instance, parents’ education is seen to be associated with student achievement. Likewise, the poverty levels of the school also decide the quality of education. Public school teachers in high-poverty schools are also more likely to report student misbehavior as interfering with their teaching than teachers in low-poverty schools. Students in mathematics classes in low-poverty public secondary schools are more likely to be taught by teachers who majored or minored in mathematics than were students in high-poverty public secondary schools.  

As discussed, many factors can affect the learning process. The social context in which schools operate can influence their effectiveness. Changes in social context present challenges that schools must address to enhance their effectiveness and ensure that educational progress can occur. 

The impact of social context on education

The point to focus on is that the social environment that the child is subject to in education has a holding on their personality development. This social environment can consist of various levels such as family, institutional, community, and society. An environment in which children don’t feel safe or are victims to be bullying will have an impact that carries on into adulthood.

The mental health of the learners and their ability to deal with emotions does make a connection to this. A survey shows that 13% of students in America are stressed, 22% suffer anxiety, 20% have sleep difficulties, and 14% have depression. All of this has a direct influence on the performance of a learner. (Read more about the link between mental health and students here

Is this the social context we want in our education systems? What are we subjecting our children to?

Imagine 12-year-olds consuming content on social media where they think beauty filters are the new norm. Or teens on apps that scam them of money. Even the shady man trying to befriend an unknowing adolescent by “sliding into the DMs.” Families making learners believe that their value solely depends on education, or vice versa—that education has no value. All of this comes under the umbrella of social context. And if it is not safe, we are directly subjecting learners to the negative impact that it can have. 

Are we really okay with learning in this environment? 

social context of education
Photo by LUM3Non Unsplash

Conclusion 

While we can’t micromanage the system, we can influence it. Promoting a healthier social context in education, general check-ins, being empathetic of the learner, and not putting them in a tight box roped with expectations are some ways to give them room to grow. This environment is shaping them in numerous ways—how they interact with other elements of the community, survival systems, ideologies, and so on and so on. 

Should something so impactful get so little attention? Are we doing enough? 

Categories
Education Edutainment

5 Web Series that Show the Current State of Education

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Web series has risen to become one of the most popular means of entertainment in recent times, more so with the millions of people locked in their homes due to our resident pandemic.

In the past, we have talked about Netflix shows (here is the article).

Web series, whether present on Netflix or YouTube, has proven to be an efficient way of storytelling for people who do not have that Indian soap opera budget. Due to this, web series very often deviate from regular programming to offer something more.

A lot of them comment on our Education System and the state of our students; today we will be looking at 5 such shows.

Grab your pens and scales, and let’s go!

Kota Factory

Platform: YouTube

Upon its release, The Kota Factory generated so much hype and rivaled the hype that your dad had for Sacred Games s2. The series pulls no punches in criticizing the Indian education system through the eyes of an IIT aspirant in Kota.

The color scheme is inspired by the movie “Schindler’s List,” a movie based on the lives of Jews under the gruesome rule of Nazis (you see what I meant by brutal?).

The series is a very grounded representation of the aspirations of many students as well as many broken dreams. It does have a few wholesome moments but most of it is hard-hitting. The series also explores bittersweet moments such as saying goodbye to your friends.

In a nutshell, it is a series that best represents a student. A season 2 is planned to be released on Netflix, and we can’t wait for it!

Lakhon Mein Ek

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

The First season of Lakhon Mein Ek tackles the same challenges that Kota Factory does but adds comedy to it.

It is the story of a misfit in a coaching class for IIT and once again shows the state of students in these coaching classes and how overbearing the goal of IIT can be for people.

The story excellently balances comedy and drama. The second season takes to criticizing the Medical Industry and the Government and is a recommended one if you are interested in that.

Girls Hostel

Platform: Sony Liv

Heading into full comedy territory here, folks; put on your hard hats.

Girls Hostel raises some serious issues but will not disappoint if you are looking for humor and comedy. The series shows different characters dealing differently with the reality of college life as well as trying to achieve different goals.

The performances are amazing from the entire cast, and the show does a good job depicting college life. The second season is generally seen as a little bit of a let-down, but enjoy the first season, will ya?

A little side note: there is a show with the same name on Zee Yuva, but it’s a horror show (genre; not quality; it’s actually pretty good looking from the trailer and reviews) and it’s in Marathi.

Hostel Daze

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

This web series is from TVF—the same people behind Kota Factory and man, do they hate the Indian Education System.

However, this time it’s a comedy about Life inside Indian Colleges. The mini-series is a really great satire of college life and combined with the performances; it might make some of you nostalgic.

There is not much to the series, but it does give the viewer a good time watching it, so do give this one a chance and you may very well be surprised.

Yes, Indians are capable of funny comedy series.

Engineering Girls

Platform: YouTube

The show is again a mix of comedy and drama. However, it has a sweet vibe to it. Along with the great performance and the length, it makes for an easy watching experience.

It, of course, focuses on hopes, dreams, and friendships with relatively harmless situations escalating into big problems that must be dealt with by the main cast. We have a main overarching narrative with smaller stories of daily school life struggles, a lot of which are very relatable.

The series is a fun watch and absolutely free on YouTube.

Conclusion

Not much to say for the conclusion here (I write it for my editor, mostly) other than a piece of good advice: do give these series in this list a look, especially the free ones. The Education System is heavily flawed and series like these help more people realize that. I feel the more people realize the problem, the closer we get to solving it.

Drop a comment if you enjoyed it, and be good, people. Safe Travels Friend!

Categories
Business Education

Economics of Education: Is Education a Resource?

Photo by Kelly Sikkemaon Unsplash 

The 4 M’s are pretty common in various economic platforms – man, material, machinery, and money. This speaks about various resources. Education, too, is one such resource. Let’s see how

Fundamentals of Economics 

Economics is a term that most of us are already familiar with. It is the study concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Economics studies these aspects at an individual level and beyond, including businesses, governments, and nations, as well. It helps understand the efficiency in production as well as exchange. It also uses various models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies to maximise efficiency. This helps in understanding ways to increase productivity, efficiently use resources, and improve standards of living. 

Economics helps us make informed decisions, understand various industries, connect systems from an international perspective, and in general, aims to promote growth. Since it is a study of resources and services, it has a connection to education as well. No, not the study of economics but rather, the economics of education. Tricky? Stay with me; let me explain 

Economics of Education 

Economics of education, also known as education economics, studies economic issues relating to education. The demand for it, financing, supply, efficiency of various systems, and so on. While not a broadly known subject area, this concept applies economic theories to education as a service. 

Economics of education

Source: Click here 

For example, let’s look at the picture above. It analyses the resources allotted to the top and bottom 10% financially segregated population. The blue graph (towards the left) shows the bottom 10% and the orange graph (towards the right) shows the top 10%. Although not a recent graph, it gives an idea of how education as a resource is distributed. Particularly, how the distribution seems quite lopsided.

Educational development has seen a lot of changing patterns over time (Read more on the importance of education here). A few studies show that when there is economic development there usually is growth for educational development. Educational development is a powerful tool for growth if used correctly. A well-educated community indicates a community inclined towards employment and sustainable growth. A motive, so to speak, towards accomplishment and figuring out their interests 

Does it matter, though? Are there benefits from allocating these resources? Do they have any impact on the bigger picture? Yes, to all of that. 

Economics of education

Source: Click here 

Implications 

Education is slowly being recognised as a basic right in various countries. As such, it definitely should be something that strives towards equitable distribution of resources. Various countries have started to see the importance of educational development. As such, educational spending is also increasing.

Economic development looks at basic needs being met. Hence, the focus on education and other such secondary spending is increasing. Moreover, education is also seen as a means to fulfill these basic needs. 

Globalization and technological progress has also called for more in-depth studying. This also sees a higher demand for intellectual resources. Usually, the opportunity cost of education is misgauged. A common misconception is that education, when seen as an investment, takes too much time for any real returns. However, education helps an individual to not only keep track of various markets but also identify gaps that they can occupy. 

Conclusion 

Education plays an important role in development. This is pretty much established. Economics helps us understand markets better and hence, optimise resource utilisation. Applying these concepts of economics to education could mean better opportunities and providing more accessible forms of learning. This also means identifying and accommodating the learning needs of such a diverse audience