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International Education Day 2023: Does Indian school education prepare students to study abroad?

International Education Day 2023: Do Indian schools prepare you for higher education abroad? Or is it just theory, that is taught for good grades? Students, experts express their views.

Does Indian school education prepare students for study abroad plansSome believe Indian schools don't prepare students for real life. (Graphics by Abhishek Mitra)
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About two year back, The Indian Express did a series where it tracked 20 years CBSE and CISCE board exam toppers and asked about learning gaps in our education system. Almost all of them said their school education didn’t quite prepare them for what lay ahead.

Many toppers also wished if their school education had guided them on colleges, loan programmes et al, they would have picked their real interest than majoring in conventional disciplines. On the International Education Day, we talk to students who are studying abroad and find out whether they think they are prepared to study in various universities and live on their own.

Srilekha Roychowdhury, Master of Counseling (2022-24), The University of Queensland, Australia

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To an extent, the Indian schools did prepare me for my study abroad journey. The Indian education system makes students familiar with essays and SOPs (Statement of Purpose), etc. which turns out to be highly beneficial while applying for foreign universities. At the same time, there are plenty of intricate details that one needs to keep in mind while writing an SOP which the Indian schools do not focus on.

When it comes to gaining work experience, Indian schools mostly believe in having a theoretical understanding of a course whereas universities abroad encourage practical exposure. That’s the reason why foreign universities look for work experience which Indian schools do not prepare us for. Additionally, Indian schools are barely helpful when it comes to managing our finances. I don’t remember being taught how to deal with my finances or associated struggles when moving abroad. It definitely is an essential topic to cover but it’s not a part of the curriculum yet.

Souvik Das, MS Computer Science, Oregon State University, USA

Not to rant about Indian schooling, but it did not help me gear up for a study abroad experience or adulting. Even though we are taught how to write essays in school, they are very formal and usually revolve around fix topics. Writing a statement of purpose or college essays is something which not only requires good English grammar, but also clever ways of balancing emotions and information. That is something that we were never taught in our schools, but I wish they start doing that now for the future generations.

When it comes to work experience, a lot of colleges are now helping their student gain experience. However, schools do not inculcate that drive in their students as it schools focus majorly on marks.

— Aditi Misra, Director Principal Delhi Public School sector 45, Gurugram

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Indian schools do prepare students for a study abroad experience.

Going overseas for education has been the dream of many students. Undoubtedly, studying abroad widens the knowledge curve and sharpens skills — both academic as well as social, emotional and co-curricular. However, getting through an international university is not easy. It is through the entrance examinations such as TOEFL or GRE or dependent on personal statements along with marks of public exams. Amidst all, Indian schools and the education system play a critical role in bridging the gap, preparing the students for these exams as well as assisting them in writing/ filling forms and other required documents.

Indian teachers are well-trained, skilled as well as empathetic toward their students’ welfare. Our country’s schools are dedicated and offer all kinds of support to enable their students to pursue their higher education in a foreign land. Ranging from language preparedness, and cultural awareness, as well as workshops to deliver practical experience, are well supported and guide the students throughout their tenure in schools.

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— Bhupesh Meher, PhD student, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel (BGU)

Indian schools do not prepare you for several things needed for survival such as communications skills, organising various events, and, most importantly, finding research problems.

There are notable variations between the the educational systems of India and Israel. Here we choose what to study in terms of a semester before research. However, in India, we study practically all the topics based on a fixed curriculum. In Israel, your research abilities are checked so that you can contribute meaningfully to your subject or topic of research. In addition, your English proficiency is assessed so that you can effectively communicate your research to your community, supervisor, and, most importantly, the audience. They did not exactly prepare me for a PhD, but I came close in every way to what my teachers taught me.

— Simran Babbar, Public relations and integrated communications, Conestoga Doon campus, Kitchener, Canada

Indian schooling has certainly prepared many students for admissions abroad. The Indian education system is based on a strong academic foundation that provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Indian students are exposed to a variety of subjects and topics, which broadens their knowledge base and furthermore, many Indian students have access to additional resources and support, such as tutoring, which can further their preparation for college admissions abroad.

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Our Indian schooling system may not have specifically prepared an individual for financial struggles abroad, but it does provided a basic understanding of finance and money management which may be useful when living abroad. Additionally, the Indian schooling system could have provided the individual with the necessary skills to research and learn about financial strategies for self-care and financial stability abroad.

When it comes to work experience, Indian schools do offer work experience opportunities that can be beneficial for abroad admissions. Some schools have international exchange and study abroad programmes that provide students with an international work experience.

(With inputs from Neellohit Ray)

First published on: 24-01-2023 at 08:00 IST
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