THE BLOG

Rote Learning Is Harming The Future Employability Of Our Kids

18/08/2016 11:48 AM IST | Updated 21/08/2016 12:54 AM IST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Felix Hug

Given that we're exposed to new technologies every day, we all -- students, parents, CEOs, governments -- get lulled into the belief that we are marching onwards into the future and leaving the past behind. The reality is that there are some cultural and traditional values that form the core of who we are, sometimes without us even realizing them. While some of these are desirable and give us strength, others hold us back. For instance, first generation students from smaller towns, armed with a passion to succeed, receive wholehearted support from their family and benefactors. Unfortunately, the right intent alone doesn't always lead to success and very often these children are hindered by the lack of effective tools to help take them to the next level.

Children who cannot conform to the typical style of rote learning prevailing in our schools are set up for failure...

India is focused on becoming a digitally enabled nation in terms of infrastructure, business and literacy, but for that we need the right kind of workforce. The challenge begins right from school age, when children often do not receive guidance to approach their education in the right way and are forced to follow ineffective methods of learning. Another point to consider is that one style of learning cannot suit everyone. Every individual is different and therefore also has a different potential. Unfortunately, our present primary education system does not embrace these differences and children who cannot conform to the typical style of rote learning prevailing in our schools are set up for failure at the very beginning. This is where technology can play a helping role.

Globally, being digitally equipped to compete in an evolving environment is a prerequisite; there is a need for students entering the workforce to be well-versed with their chosen domain of knowledge, with an in-depth understanding of the basics. But, are we making sure this happens in India? Perhaps not. We need to revisit our education system which is based on a typical, known and practiced route predicated on rote learning. It's an approach that can actually obstruct the basic understanding of concepts.

While memory-building exercises aid learning and increase brain potential, studies show that rote learning can reverse this good and dull the potential of the human brain. According to the National Employability Report (Engineers) 2016, a worryingly low employability percentage of 3.67% has been observed for the role of software engineers in IT products, due to a lack of a strong understanding of computer programming and algorithms in candidates. This is more prevalent in tier 3, 4 and 5 cities, where examination results hold the key to future success and students do not have access to the foundation device -- a personal computer -- to help them learn, practice, and most importantly, comprehend concepts in order to develop skills. A different debate still hovers in the background on how much have we actually achieved by applying the urban education system in tier 1 and 2 cities.

A worryingly low employability percentage of 3.67% has been observed for software engineers in IT products, due to a lack of strong conceptual understanding...

India needs to explore newer ways of development, and the foremost way is to build a powerful knowledge-driven economy that relies on its youth and student population emerging from Tier 3, to 5 cities. According to the PC User Trends of Emerging India survey, the youth and students of the country pack the maximum potential to spearhead technology adoption in the country, through PC usage.

To develop analytical and cognitive skills, it has to be ensured that students in all parts of the country have access to an education which is holistic, and enables practical application in their professions whilst adding value to their individual lives. It may sound like a utopian dream at this juncture, but I strongly believe that the country's youth has the potential to adapt to this paradigm shift, if it happens. Why paradigm? Because only 10% of Indian households are PC adopters and users!

This brings me to my original point that the formative years for a student are crucial to build a truly skilled workforce. Skill development begins at home and is carried forward at school, making the responsibilities of the parent and the teacher converge. It is up to these stakeholders to recognize how young minds respond to various learning method, and steer away from rote-learning, and towards interactive methods of education. For example, the audio-visual mechanism of learning enables a far better retention of concepts than pure rote memorization. If facilitated by education administrators and regulators, a collaborative environment for students to evolve and grow as they learn is not a distant dream.

Is there scope for a more holistic approach towards education and building a truly digital nation for our future generation?

For years now, our culture defines success as measured through performance in examinations and we can all agree to the saying that old habits die hard. For parents who in their own formative years "learnt" by rote, the proverb holds particularly true. It is a phenomenon that is ingrained in most parents and teachers who want the best for their children, not just in India but globally. However, as awareness on the need for a relook at our education system grows, more and more educators are seeing that there is potential in every child and it can only be activated through the right ways of learning, engagement and collective awareness-building. We need to ask ourselves, are we doing enough or is there scope for a more holistic approach towards education and building a truly digital nation for our future generation? Are we ready for a cultural overhaul?

Where the children sleep

More On This Topic