I recently heard of an elite school in Mumbai charging an annual fee of Rs 500,000 for its playschool. I was shocked enough to not want to know its fees for kindergarten, primary and beyond. Nearby you may find a state-run school providing almost-free education (and mid-day meals) for the children of the servants working for families whose children attend the elite school. Such is the spectrum of school education in India.
We generally and rightly assume that government schools hardly match the most average private schools (known as “public” schools) in academic standards and overall learning experience. But does the school education system as a whole intellectually equip children for today’s challenges?
Colleges and universities might be similarly interrogated, especially those teaching humanities, social sciences and other liberal arts. The recent controversy over the University of Delhi’s four-year under-graduate programme (FYUP) misses the point altogether. Is the curriculum of either the 3-or 4-year courses rigorous enough? My experience working with graduate and post-graduate students from Indian universities has left me with sufficient doubts about the quality of academic preparation in our institutions.
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