While we think our standard of education might be high, isn’t it shocking that not a single Indian university features in the world’s top 300 universities and research institutes? PRAVEEN IYER
In the U.S. for my Masters’ degree, I have come to realise that the education system in India is totally different from that in the U.S., whether one is talking about school or college.
The most important difference lies in the basic approach towards thinking. Take the attitude to mathematics, for instance. I feel mathematics teaches logic and lays the foundation for independent and lateral thinking. In India, mathematics is taught from elementary school level and there is a lot of emphasis on the subject. The standard is high right through school.
However, in the U.S., high school education is designed in such a way that nearly every child can pass that level. Going to the root of the problem, I found that the American education system is designed in such a way that a student’s self-confidence and self-esteem are not damaged. While this may be a laudable goal, it often leads to lowering the standard.
On the other hand, we in India consider our IITs and IIMs as world-class institutes producing top-notch talents and intellects. What we now have to wake up to is that in areas of research, India is not only beginning to slip behind other countries but has also failed to match its own past performance. As you study statistics of higher education, it is shocking not to find a single Indian university in the world’s top 300 universities and research institutes.
All this led me to talk to faculty members, under-grad and post-grad students about the pros and cons of the education system in India and the U.S. The one common factor across the responses was how caste and religion play a crucial role in the already corrupt educational system in India. When political parties toy with educational institutions and when a lot of influence and money is pumped in, it cripples the system.
The Indian education system is at least comparatively good till the undergraduate degree level but when it comes to post-graduate programmes, we have a long way to go to catch up with the best.
Praveen is pursuing Masters in Computer Science at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
In bioengineering, research matters more than anything else. India is still at a very rudimentary stage in terms of quality of research in universities compared to the U.S. and the U.K because of the number of grants and the financial support from government institutions like the NIH. High-end equipment and collaborations between departments motivate interdisciplinary concepts. Also the teacher-student relationship is much more relaxed abroad. They encourage discussions rather than mundane lectures. The curriculum is structured to emphasise research rather than just classroom learning. Coursework involves assignments and projects that involve implementing concepts not memorising the textbook. - SREE POORNIMA RAGHURAM, Masters in Bioengineering, University of Illino, Chicago
How many of us learnt algebra and trigonometry playing with a cube puzzle? Or had the chance to learn wave theory of light through a kaleidoscope? Learning is always fun when it involves understanding of concepts that help support creativity. The Indian education system is well planned and organised but needs to support one’s practical understanding of the concepts rather than just measuring theoretical knowledge and ultimately testing memory levels. Graduate studies abroad test practical competency rather than textbook knowledge. Knowledge becomes wisdom only after it has been put into practical use. Let’s not stop the Einsteins’ of tomorrow with nightmares of grades. - DEEPIKA MOHAN, Masters in Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas, Dallas
A classroom lesson tells you a story. You sit back to analyse it and, in the process, discover new facets of existing things. This is how a subject is taught at a Master’s course abroad as against the Indian system of reading a book to understand a concept. The diversity in the classroom adds to quality of discussion and also provides a superior understanding of how a given problem can be solved in different ways. The education system in India is somewhat biased and has several links to the social set-up, which obviously affects its quality. - NITYA VASU, Masters in Global Business Analysis, University of Manchester
Gone are the days when study holidays were a time of discovery of chapters that I didn’t even know had been taught, assignments almost always meant copying from a classmate and unit tests meant studying during the early morning bus ride. Education in the U.S. is a stark contrast given the opportunity to choose my courses. Exams and assignments here push you to understand concepts completely rather than just memorise. However the fundamentals of math and science in Indian schools are certainly among the best. As much as I miss the relaxed schedule of my under-grad days, I feel rigorous coursework is required to survive in this competitive environment. - SANDHYA SANTHANARAMAN, Masters in Biomedical Engineering, Arizona State University
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