On the one hand, 65% of India is under 35 years and approximately 50% below 25 years.
This makes India one of the most exciting places to be.
And on the other, unemployment stands at a staggering high of 6.1% while the industry is constantly clamoring for an aptly skilled force.
Why can’t we connect the resource to a requirement? What’s the disconnect?
Our Education system while churning out legions of graduates is unable to connect the dots with the next stage of an individual’s development; their career.
The system that was conceived in the industrial age and is yet to come to terms with the Space Age (which has ebbed) let alone the New Digital Age whose contours are expansive and multi-dimensional.
This new age demands a quick grasp of the situation and lightning responses to them. It requires a new view that can solve age-old conundrums.
Children are constantly struggling to cope with an information blitz, it comes at them from every quarter all the time. It is a bewildering experience to be exposed to information that is not age-appropriate; it fills them with questions and confusion. How do they make sense of such a world? How do they sift that which is relevant to them?
And then there is a structure that pushes its disciples into conformity and compliance; measuring everyone with a single yardstick. Replicating textbooks on an examination paper is a function of memory, not intelligence. True education is wider and larger. It is ironic that we force our children to work in silos and then expect them to grow up as individuals that collaborate and work in teams.
Diversity of thought and collaboration are the nutrients that give birth to innovation.
In a system that tests compliance and not intelligence, only a narrow band makes the cut, the rest are left behind.
Testing is an industry that pits child Vs.child and school Vs. school; disregarding diversity, collaboration or original thought.
Innovation, creativity and original thought are lost in the “quicksand of dead habit”
Subjects form a hierarchy; the STEM fields ruling the roost while the rest of the faculties trail behind and the fine arts bringing in the rear.
It is critical that we re-look at how we imparting knowledge; its efficacy and its relevance. The necessity is to look at what the world needs, what energizes our children and then reverse engineer all our systems and processes towards those ends.
Can we synapse the natural talent with direction? Can we teach our children to keep asking the critical question: Why? Or more importantly “Why not?”
In a world that is ever-morphing, it is important that we teach the next generation to think on their feet, to be mentally agile and conversant with solving problems. We must strive to bridge the gap between the theoretical and the practical. The processes must converge and thrive on synergy, across all areas.
Besides, there is a greater existential threat that looms before us.
In the quest to progress, we have squandered our resources and abused our world. Our world stands on the brink of self-annihilation.
Our children inherit a world that is in dire need of innovative solutions. This will require them to think beyond what we know and reach out into the areas that are undiscovered, it will require them to become problem-solvers and apply their faculties to an injured world.