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The Indian education system has failed

October 5, 2006

What our education system strives to produce are creative and intelligent youth who will take our country forward into the golden age. Instead, what it mostly produces are robots who possess an amazing capacity for storing facts and churning them out at the press of the right button. Qualities like independent thinking, problem-solving ability, initiative, leadership skills and social competence fall by the wayside as getting high grades becomes their only goal. Sadly these are the very qualities that our youth need to succeed in life.
The ‘programming’ starts early in life, in school itself. The ideal student is one who has the ability to sit quietly for hours, his eyes transfixed on the blackboard, never contradicting the teachers. He is one who works neatly, quietly and for long hours. This favorite of the teachers realises soon enough that this is all that he needs to excel in school. He has to become obedient and organised, and give up large chunks of his ‘idle’ time. This precious time is time which every child deserves to have, time which every child uses to gradually develop his creative and social skills.

When a child loiters around playing marbles, ‘hanging out’, cycling, or just doing ‘nothing’ he is actually developing leadership and social skills. And when a child spends time learning extra-curricular skills like swimming, playing the sitar or simply football, he is developing

So if a child aims to please his teachers, gives up what he has to, and concentrates on getting high grades, he will go on to be a ‘topper’. Intelligence may or may not be one of his qualities but he will nevertheless get the best start in life. He will procure admission in a professional college of his choice, and perhaps get a high-paying job in a multinational firm. A few years later, he may well be surprised to see that someone whom he considers ‘mediocre’ has overtaken him in the rat race.

The reality is that academic brilliance does not guarantee future success. It is often the so-called ‘average’ student who goes on to achieve great things.

The pressure that parents exert on children to do well at school seems somewhat pointless if academic success does not always bestow a life-time of success on children. But sadly, it is very difficult to convince parents and many Indian educators as well. They are stuck with an educational formula that the west discarded ages ago.

As a result, children who could blossom into artists or sportsmen are still destined to have their talents squeezed out of them by academically ambitious parents. Is it any surprise then that we have the second largest population in the world, but we produce few sportsman and rarely invent anything of creative genius?

(An abridged version of my article which appeared in the Times of India, Bangalore)

Read about Why children score well in school
the poor state of India’s schools
The myth of IQ testing
how to choose the right school
whether success in later life is dependent upon marks
fear that parents have for teachers.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. nehru mantri permalink
    May 13, 2008 9:03 pm


    I just noticed this from your link. Absolutely on the spot. This is where the disease of an ill developed India starts and needs to be cured. The curse starts with the parents and teachers not paying attention, just running through the rote garbage and turn out citizens all the way from Lawyers, politicians and Doctors who simply refuse to listen because they come with their own templates of doing rote jobs. One has to be blessed with wise parents or has to drop out of school or be a troublesome maverick to wrench him/herself free from the system and retire to a corner and nurse his brain to think and grow and then start seeing his/her “living world” and then take it on. India knows this.It has an example right at its door. Since it is presumed “mystic” and as happening to “only certain people”, Buddha is not a maverick_he is god!

  2. May 13, 2008 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the response Nehru. I wrote this article a long time back for the Bangalore paper and then re-published it here at a time when my blog was new. Didn’t have many readers then! It is one of my favourite themes…I agree our education sysem is like a “disease’ in some ways. Again, thanks for responding.

  3. Siddhartha Shrama permalink
    June 2, 2008 3:52 pm

    Hi Nita and all others concerned,

    I am embarking on a journey to film this issue and countless sub-issues pertaining to indian education system – I will focus on modules that are already in practice all over the country that lay their attitudinal impetus on independent thinking, problem-solving ability, initiative, leadership skills and social competence – works of some key indviduals in school set -up and in community/parents that help bridge these gaps

    I want support from anyone concerned in research, material, cases and posible partners in this project.

    I hope we all will join hands now – its never too late!

    • Mukul permalink
      September 21, 2009 7:11 pm

      Hi Siddhartha,

      I read about your initiative of filming various issues in Indian education system. If the project is on, i would like to contribute in it with my research experience.

      You can contact me at



  4. Shivayogi permalink
    March 24, 2009 8:27 am

    Hi Nita

    You are right on the spot, our education doesn’t turn the kids into innovators, and what we need is innovators and not really the mediocre intelligant ones, that only score in the exams and not in the real world. The tragedy is with so much of education and exposure to the west, we still haven’t done anything to change the perception. Education should be an enabler and must trigger the thought process.

  5. pete permalink
    September 1, 2009 7:28 pm

    the most astonishing part of this stupid useless education system is that it makes someone to lose his or her creative abilities…the children are always confused right from the beginning because they perceive success or defeat based on some social parameters….all the way, the successful person is the one with a high paying job…and nothing else….

  6. Pramodh Peddi permalink
    January 4, 2010 8:55 am

    Very nice article. I saw lot of your opinions/feelings in “3 Idiots” movie. Clearly, you wrote this article long long before the movie came out. I am surprised a movie on our educational system didn’t come out until recently as our educational system is a glaringly burning problem in our country. However, the sad part is, government and society don’t seem to care.

  7. Priya Gupta permalink
    March 3, 2010 5:21 pm

    Hi, loved your article. I am a mom of two , aged 6 and 3 1/2. my son goes to the ‘best’ school in town. i am happy with the school as far as the facilities it provides , mainly the play ground! since space is at such a premium here. I still feel that the management needs to get real and less demanding on the tiny tots of primary section. Ever since I have started my Montessori Training Course, I am convinced that this is the system of education we desperately need. The ills are there, no doubt, but the solution too is there if only we get together and demand it. We as parents too should realise that ‘learning’ is not memorizing facts and regurgitating it to all and clap our hands at all that our child ‘remembers’ but take pride in what our child understands and applies in everyday life. He may have the ability to do much , give him the free will to choose it.

  8. rkaur permalink
    March 1, 2011 1:35 am

    i oculdn’t agree more. I am an indian who was born overseas (so indian by heritage, but a proud one at that), completed my education degree and went to india for 3 months to teach there. Considering I was taught and completed y degree in education in the west i was shocked at how rote-focused the teaching was based on. I taught various classes and one was a year 5. It was the first week or so that i began teaching, as i knew – to enable the students with the tools required to find the result without literally writing questions and answers on the board. One student complained to his dad who was also a teacher at his school that it was too difficult and that i had not given them the answers, to which the father came to me and said this is how they’ve always learnt, and its important that i continue to teach them that way. And, as a 22 year old, i did just that, as much as i disagreed with it. Teaching them in this way is completely ineffective for their learning, and i intend to go back once i have completed my masters. I intend to eventually develop a school that fosters this kind of learning (that isn’t apart of the IB progem) and hopefully teach other teachers the benefits of teaching in this way.

  9. rkaur permalink
    March 1, 2011 1:38 am

    and although this is not relevant to this thread, i think it is also essential to have guidance counsellors in schools. Not only to foster a students emotionall and psychological well being but also guidance for occupations and life choices.

  10. Krishnesh permalink
    May 30, 2011 5:40 am

    Hey Nita
    I am a student in grade 11
    Your article is right on spot and I completely agree with you
    Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is born an artist,it’s how long he remains an artist”
    It’s a major concern for our country-we take the artist(which includes everything creative or innovative) out of the child,maybe this is the reason that the number of young poets,entrepreneurs,bohemians,rebels,sportsmen is so low .
    And what our education system is an engineer producing machine-shouldn’t that be a concern? In my batch of 150 students there are at least 90 students who are made/want to become an engineer! And this is in a school which doesn’t stress upon becoming an engineer(there are schools in Indore which do that!)

  11. Red permalink
    September 7, 2011 7:40 pm


  12. lokesh permalink
    January 29, 2012 4:27 pm

    I cant tell any thing but i can say that ours is one of the best education system once.but we have to change according to time,at the same time we have to teach to students about our great victories.we have many great persons in our history,we have a great history,please let the students to knoe about our country first.

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