“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela.
To me, a ninth grader, the term ‘modern education’ does not just mean equipping oneself with bookish knowledge or developing a set of skill sets. Rather, it involves the provision of wisdom that empowers us to think, to contemplate, to analyse, to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes, and systematically help develop the mind, body and soul. This would help us contribute to our communities and countries better.
Education needs to be the driving force that sharpens our focus and develops our individual personalities to be active contributors to modern society. This can happen if we do away with some obsolete learning techniques and us being taught for the sake of being taught. The focus should be more on contemporary thinking and ability to face realities that we are confronted with everyday.
We have programmes like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. However, how much importance does education give to the women and their contribution in society? Modern curriculum should focus on strong, contemporary female role models from across the globe.
While it is very important to learn about the great leaders of the past, there are many modern strong influential women contributors in the society who should be studied. Gender studies, built in as part of the curriculum, will also help build awareness and appreciation of the individualities of all genders and a consciousness of equality among children and young people starting from an early age.
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Furthermore, a detailed study of ‘human rights’ in school curricula, regarding equal opportunities and rights – both nationally and internationally will enhance the development of national and international leaders of tomorrow.
Second, numerous scientific studies have shown that good health is a state of well-being mentally, physically, and psycho-socially. The absence of any one of the factors makes one weak and unhealthy. Courses on fitness and nutrition would add tremendous value to students’ lives. They would help battle the high obesity rates one sees in young people, due to the increasing consumption of fast food and the growing ease of “home delivery.”
These courses should also add mental health awareness as part of their syllabus. Students face a great deal of pressure due to various factors in their lives along with the pressure to be an all-rounder. Formal study of mental health awareness would lead to lesser amount of stress-related deaths.
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Another important aspect is a change in the attitude of educators, students and parents alike, towards the perceived differential value of the various subjects and disciplines taught in school. In school, if one is not good in the arts, languages, or social sciences then he/she is considered more inclined towards mathematics and science.
However, conversely, if someone more inclined towards the arts finds it difficult to cope with mathematics or science, then he/she is branded as “not trying hard enough.” There is also the unwritten rule that the most intelligent and driven students study science and engineering, while the ones who are academically weak pursue humanities, even though the study of social sciences could lead to the well-rounded appreciation of contemporary life and the birth of leaders and the humanitarians of tomorrow.
I believe summer internships provide a value opportunity to learn practical skills and professional discipline. I believe it should be introduced from grade 9 or 10, so that by the time a child graduates from school he or she has had a chance to make an informed choice about careers and interests based on experience.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything one learned in school.” So the need of the hour is to include subjects that would not just give us academic skills but also develop awareness and consciousness to be leaders of tomorrow.
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