Hon’ble HRD Minister of India,
As an educator, I continue to remain dismayed by India’s poor standard of education that is a relic of the enslaving British era. This system was established by slave masters to stunt & brainwash their slave population for tightening the British grip on Indians. So, here is my suggestion to you for replacing our clerk-manufacturing Macaulayan education with a Gurukul-like system to create entrepreneurs & responsible citizens. Hopefully, this system should be implemented in a systematic & phased manner over a 15-year-period.
1. LEVEL 1 (AGE 5)
1.1. Language—State: Alphabet, Reading.
1.2. Mathematics: Numbers, Counting.
1.3. General Knowledge: Things around us.
1.4. History & Culture: State history & culture, Expected manners.
1.5. Art & Craft: Painting, Clay Modelling.
1.6. Martial Arts: Defense Level 1.
2. LEVEL 2 (AGE 6)
2.1. Language—State: Reading, Comprehension.
2.2. Mathematics: Addition.
2.3. General Knowledge: Things around us.
2.4. History & Culture: State history & culture, Expected manners.
2.5. Art & Craft: Paper Cutting, Wood Modelling.
2.6. Martial Arts: Defense Level 2.
3. LEVEL 3 (AGE 7)
3.1. Language—State: Comprehension, Writing.
3.2. Language—National: Alphabet, Reading.
3.3. Mathematics: Subtraction.
3.4. General Knowledge: Things around us.
3.5. History & Culture: Indian history & culture, Expected manners.
3.6. Art & Craft: Drawing, Music.
3.7. Martial Arts: Defense Level 3.
4. LEVEL 4 (AGE 8)
4.1. Language—State: Writing, Composition.
4.2. Language—National: Reading, Comprehension.
4.3. Mathematics: Multiplication, Time.
4.4. General Knowledge: How things around us work.
4.5. History & Culture: Indian history & culture, Expected manners.
4.6. Art & Craft: Dance.
4.7. Martial Arts: Defense Level 4.
5. LEVEL 5 (AGE 9)
5.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
5.2. Language—National: Comprehension, Writing.
5.3. Language—International: Alphabet, Reading.
5.4. Mathematics: Division, Measurements.
5.5. General Knowledge: How things around us work.
5.6. History & Culture: International history & culture, Expected manners.
5.7. Life Skills: Swimming, Cooking.
5.8. Martial Arts: Defense Level 5.
6. LEVEL 6 (AGE 10)
6.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
6.2. Language—National: Writing, Composition.
6.3. Language—International: Reading, Comprehension.
6.4. Mathematics: Fractions, Ratios & Proportions.
6.5. General Knowledge: How things around us work.
6.6. History & Culture: International history & culture, Expected manners.
6.7. Life Skills: Survival Training.
6.8. Martial Arts: Defense Level 6.
7. LEVEL 7 (AGE 11)
7.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
7.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
7.3. Language—International: Comprehension, Writing.
7.4. Mathematics: Geometry.
7.5. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, & State-level.
7.6. Civics & Citizenry: Ethics, Morality, Rights & Duties of Citizens at Local-level & State-level.
7.7. Life Skills: Agriculture.
7.8. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
8. LEVEL 8 (AGE 12)
8.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
8.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
8.3. Language—International: Writing, Composition.
8.4. Mathematics: Analytical Reasoning.
8.5. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, & State-level.
8.6. Civics & Citizenry: Ethics, Morality, Rights & Duties of Citizens at National-level & International-level.
8.7. Life Skills: Animal Husbandry.
8.8. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
9. LEVEL 9 (AGE 13)
9.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
9.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
9.3. Language—International: Literature & Communication.
9.4. Finance: Money, Saving & Investing.
9.5. Accounting: Costing.
9.6. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, State-level, & National-level.
9.7. Civics & Citizenry: Constitution & Law.
9.8. Life Skills: Home Tailoring, Home Carpentry.
9.9. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
10. LEVEL 10 (AGE 14)
10.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
10.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
10.3. Language—International: Literature & Communication.
10.4. Finance: Entrepreneurship.
10.5. Accounting: Books of Accounts.
10.6. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, State-level, & National-level.
10.7. Civics & Citizenry: Constitution & Law.
10.8. Life Skills: Home Construction.
10.9. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
11. LEVEL 11 (AGE 15)
11.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
11.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
11.3. Language—International: Literature & Communication.
11.4. Economics: Microeconomics.
11.5. Politics: History of Panchayat-level & State-level politics .
11.6. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, State-level, National-level & International-level.
11.7. Civics & Citizenry: Marriage & Parenting.
11.8. Life Skills: Home Plumbing, Home Electricals.
11.9. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
12. LEVEL 12 (AGE 16)
12.1. Language—State: Literature & Communication.
12.2. Language—National: Literature & Communication.
12.3. Language—International: Literature & Communication.
12.4. Economics: Macroeconomics.
12.5. Politics: History of National-level & International-level politics.
12.6. Current Affairs: Happenings at Street-level, Town-level, District-level, State-level, National-level & International-level.
12.7. Civics & Citizenry: Marriage & Parenting.
12.8. Life Skills: Home Ayurveda.
12.9. Martial Arts: Yoga & Healing.
13. Cadet Training (Age 17)
Compulsory military training, followed by registration of best performers in the Indian Territorial Army. Volunteers for a military career may be selected here.
Underperformers may be detained for training for another year.
14. University Onboarding*
Connecting programme for preferred Graduate degree.
15. Graduate Level*
50% Classroom Theory & 50% Field Training.
16. Post-Graduate Level*
25% Classroom Theory & 75% Field Training.
17. Doctoral Level*
100% Field Research.
18. Post-Doctoral Level*
100% Theoretical/ Field Research.
* Private funding with or without government sponsorships.
Education Boards & Funding
The current plethora of education boards may be merged into just 4:
1. Indian School Education Board—to design & deliver school education in 2 grades: (a) Standard curriculum for average Indian students (b) Advanced curriculum for better-than-average Indian students. While the grades (i.e., content mix) are different, the quality (i.e., zero defects) is the same. Free & compulsory education with 100% funding by central government.
2. Special School Education Board—to design & deliver school education in 2 grades: (a) for children with special needs (b) for juvenile convicts. Free & compulsory education with 100% funding by central government.
3. Board of University Education Standards—to guide & audit the delivery of higher education from University Onboarding to Post-Doctoral Level. Privately funded education with central government sponsorship of: (a) 50% for territorial army registrants (b) 100% for military recruits. University education is a privilege, not a right. Only the first 2 children per family are eligible for any government funding. Convicted persons are ineligible for any sponsorship whatsoever.
4. Board of Human Resource Research & Development—to research, support & enhance the national wealth generation process by tracking the post-education careers (entrepreneurship or employment) of individual citizens. Under this Board, there should be 2 agencies: (a) Entrepreneurship Development Centres (b) Employment Management Centres. (See details below)
Note: All these Boards should annually audit the schools/ universities under their jurisdiction for standards maintenance. If deviations are found, the head of the institution should be warned once & kept under probation for 1 year. If no improvement after 1 year: (a) the school principal should be terminated (with the cause duly documented); (b) the private university should be derecognised. The educational performance of many students & the careers of many teachers far outweigh the career of 1 bad institutional head.
Infrastructure & Scheduling
School education should be free of cost to students & 100% funded by the central government, so infrastructure is to be also commensurately of the best standards & quality.
Each school should have a qualified “student counsellor” who is readily accessible to students.
Each level of class should have a dedicated “class teacher” who will cover all subjects of that level. This teacher is predominantly responsible for all the students under their care. This strengthens the bonding between guru & shishyas.
For health reasons, students should sit on the classroom floor (on a cotton mat carried by themselves) with individualised short desks per student. In labs, students should stand & perform activities.
Theory classes & labs should be alternated, so students don’t remain seated for more than 1 hour.
Students should not learn for more than 6 hours per day at school. Daily sessions should start at 7 AM & end at 1 PM with one short recess in the middle. All students should compulsorily have free lunch at school to negate economic inequalities. After lunch, students should clean the entire school & participate in (age-appropriate) school maintenance activities under their respective class teachers’ supervision until 3 PM. This activity builds discipline & character.
All academic years should be aligned to India’s biannual Rabi & Kharif crop cultivation for enabling rural students to support their parents in agricultural activities. Starting (non-remunerative) work early in life inculcates discipline & character in students. The Western concept of “child labour” does not apply.
Uniforms & Textbooks
Again, to negate economic inequalities, all students should be uniformed. This uniform clothing should be made of natural fibres suited to the local climate. The tailoring of these uniforms should also suit India’s culture & climate. So, across India, boys should wear comfortable kurta-pajamas; girls should wear salwar-kameez. An additional jacket may be worn during cold winters. No shoes, but comfortable sandals with straps (which should be left outside the classroom neatly in a rack).
These uniforms, sitting mat, & backpacks (to carry textbooks) should be provided free of cost by the school.
Textbooks & other learning material should be provided by the school free of cost. Textbooks should be correctly designed using instructional designers, not just subject matter experts. The pages should be printed in multi-colour with illustrative images for easy learning.
Typically, nursery-level students depend much more on their teacher than higher-level students. So, it is well-known that handling nursery students is much more challenging than teaching higher levels. The higher the level of the class, the lesser is the dependency of the student on the teacher, & so lesser the effort of the teacher. So, a Level-1 class teacher should be paid much more than her counterpart in a higher class. The salary difference between adjacent levels should be 10% (i.e., Level 1 teacher earns nearly 3 times more than her Level 12 counterpart, commensurate with her teaching effort).
As a logical consequence, promotion of teachers should be towards the lower levels of the classes to increase the challenge of teaching.
This way, the most skilled teachers will handle the least skilled students to lay the strongest educational foundation for citizens.
Recruiting & Promoting Teachers
An aspiring superpower-nation should invest significantly in her citizens’ early education. So, a teacher-student ratio of 12 should be strictly maintained. For this, highly qualified & skilled educators (specialising in teaching, not mere subject-matter expertise) must be recruited through a rigorous National Teachers Recruitment Exam with 12 separate tests for the 12 level of classes.
This is a test of teaching skill for specific level of learners, not just subject knowledge. Teachers should be well-versed in handling all subjects of their chosen level of class. As the future of India will be in the hands of those who succeed in this exam, the passing criteria should be based purely on merit.
Practising teachers who wish to get promoted (to a lower-level class) should take this centralised entrance exam for the target class level. However, passing this exam is not required for privately funded university professors.
For admitting students at Level 1, a scientifically designed Standardised Student Admission Test needs to be administered to all Indian children at the age of 5. This IQ test should identify: (a) Above-average children (b) Average children (c) Children with special needs. Based on the result, children may be admitted to the appropriate school to ensure they are neither overburdened nor under-challenged.
While it is the duty of individual families to bring their children for testing, the local education officials are also responsible for ensuring no child is left behind. For this, the officials may be notified from a national registry of citizenship about children reaching education age in their area of jurisdiction. This duty is similar to vaccination camps conducted by health officials.
Evaluating Student Performance
While individual class teachers may conduct formative tests as they deem fit for their students, there should not be any summative annual exams for the sake of promoting a child to the next level. Given the low teacher-student ratio, it is the duty of each teacher to ensure all their pupils learn properly (like a Gurukul).
Class teachers should maintain separate files for individual students & track their progress to notify the parents regularly. At the end of each academic year, the class teacher should submit a performance appraisal report (in a standardised format) to the school & the parents about each student’s learning status.
Evaluating Teacher Performance
The average of all performances of the students in a class (as evidenced by the class teacher’s reports) is the teacher’s performance. Additional points should be given to teachers who nurture talent & prodigies.
Underperforming teachers should be warned by the principal once and kept under probation for 1 academic year. If there is no improvement after 1 year, the teacher should be terminated (with the cause duly documented). The educational performance of many students outweigh the career of 1 bad teacher.
After completing Level 12 & successfully finishing the mandatory military training, many students may choose to take up entrepreneurship. Others may proceed to university studies & opt for employment. So, as mentioned earlier, the 2 agencies under the Board of HR R&D should enable citizens’ post-education careers as follows:
1. Entrepreneurship Development Centres—to track & support entrepreneurs, startups, self-employed professionals, small-business owners, et al, in availing bank loans, angel investments, & business guidance. Tax collection agencies may set up counters in these centres to enable these entrepreneurs file tax returns conveniently.
2. Employment Management Centres—to track & support salaried employees in finding jobs, legal advice, & career guidance. Income tax could also be received in these centres.
Through these 2 agencies (spread nationwide in each district & present online), the unemployment status of Indians can be tracked in real time. This way, the national economy is also formalised.
Note of Caution
State & Central governments should not distract & burden teachers with other government duties such as election support, census surveying, health camps, etc. Teachers should be left alone to teach & be held fully accountable for that specialised & critical nation-building duty only.
Let’s end this 150-year-old Pinkerton syndrome in education. Let’s restore India to her former glory.