What makes a good education system?

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Their knowledge and experience will shape their thoughts and actions, making their education one of the top indicators of their future success. 

The 11 best school systems in the world ”, an article published online by The Independent on 18th November 2016, ranked countries according to various criteria such as access to education, enrolment in educational institutions beyond the compulsory age, literacy rate, funding, happiness of students, amount of homework, level of stress, fees charged, mandatory tests, etc.

The article states,

“Finland routinely tops the rankings and is famous for having no banding systems: all pupils, regardless of ability, are taught in the same classes. As a result, the gap between the weakest and the strongest pupils is the smallest in the world. Finnish schools also give relatively little homework and have only one mandatory test at age 16.”

The above looks at the factors involved in comparing education systems worldwide. But what are the fundamentals that make a good education system, one which can stand the test of time, place and circumstance? For this, the ancient Vedic Knowledge mentions four criteria: 

1) A culture of respect

When a student pays for his education, the services of a teacher is the commodity. The exchange is a business transaction. Contrast this to when a teacher does not charge for teaching and the dynamics are very different. The teacher is free to choose who to impart knowledge to. The students feel obliged to the teacher for taking on the thankless task of educating them and a culture of respect develops when there are no fees involved. 

2) Fostering creativity 

A formal education system may, at times, seem to download information which students cram and replicate in order to pass exams. It is a burden on the student. Compare this to when students learn out of curiosity, in an environment which nurtures creativity, for instance learning through games/play. The students will naturally develop an inquisitive mind, asking questions that further their interests. 

3) No competition 

The genius mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, failed his Fellow of Arts exam in December 1906 and again a year later. This was because he passed in mathematics, choosing only to attempt questions that appealed to him and leaving the rest unanswered, but performed poorly in other subjects, such as English, Physiology and Sanskrit. The education system was a failure in that it could not recognize his ability in maths.

What is the point in assessing everyone based on the same criteria? Each student has unique abilities. Grades cannot sum up the ability of students. No competition, also means that the student learns at his own pace.

4) A teacher’s dream

Teachers should give knowledge to the best of their ability; nothing should be hidden or contrived. The teacher should hope for the day when his students will be more knowledgeable than him—the day when they will surpass him. 

“The Child is Father of the  Man”, William Wordsworth wrote in one of his poems in 1802. The impressions from a good education system will reflect in the words and works of a student in his later life.

‘My Heart Leaps Up’

   -William Wordsworth

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