Rebooting Education An Innovative Way Part II

Rebooting Education An Innovative Way Part II

In his book “Differentiate or Die”, world famous Marketer and Management consultant Jack Trout has written; “Your competition can copy your product, copy your strategy, but they can’t copy your level of commitment and passion”.

There are many who are using technology to solve the problems which are plaguing our education system. Some of them are successful; few more may succeed and may create a Billion Dollar Unicorn but how long they will stay in this business will always remain a question. Present culture of VC funding and Angel Investment may force them to cash out and either exit the business or hand over the management control to the investors. They may not be able to match the commitment and passion of Mr. Sandeep Srivastava. He runs an investor free and debt free organization for the last 14 years. He has been earning and putting it back in the organization he has created. That’s why I avoid mentioning it to be his business.

In first part of the interview, we talked about why and how he started his journey as a social entrepreneur. Link of the same is here: Rebooting Education An Innovative Way

In the second part of his interview, we will know about Sandeep’s opinion on Education System and its impact on Job Market and how can we set things right.

Review Board: Is there disconnect between our Education system and the Job Market? Though employment data may be saying something else but the real unemployment in the country is huge. Underemployment is a huge problem in our country….

Sandeep Srivastava: Underemployment is much bigger problem than unemployment……..Why won’t it be??? It goes back to the basics….There is a staircase with steps of success to go up in life….. Pre-school, Primary school, Middle school, Secondary school, Senior Secondary school, Under Grad, Grad….so on and so forth….

And what we are saying or doing….. First five-six steps are damaged, so, remove those steps and directly jump to Graduation or level above or level just below. How can this help? It is bound to make students weak.

Look, we can’t do better if the basic school deficit is not fixed. The school deficit can’t be 100%. There may be some deficit…but not of this magnitude. Today morning itself, I bought some snacks from an up-market store in Kailash Colony and the person at the cash counter asked me for “Ek kum saat sau sathh” (One less than Rupees Seven hundred sixty). This is the level of education, in Delhi, in an up-market place like this. The person was not able to speak numbers properly and that too in Hindi. That’s the situation….

Review Board: If this is the situation in a place like Delhi, then what will be the situation in other parts of the country? I was reading somewhere a few days back that India produces around 6.3 million graduates every year…..what quality of students this system might be producing?

Sandeep Srivastava:
India needs to create 1 million jobs every month. Around 12 million people get added in the supply side of job market every year.

Review Board: It will be really chaotic situation; someday somewhere…..it may burst out on the streets.

Sandeep Srivastava: Hasn’t it been happening already? Have you read the newspapers of yesterday? Trains were stopped by people seeking jobs in Mumbai….Apprentices were on the railway tracks demanding jobs.

……. For me, it boils down to getting the three languages right.

…….The First language of human is art and music. You might have seen children spoiling the walls with their drawings when they first start learning something. Music is the other one………It is proven fact that music plays a big role in developing a child’s brain. 

.......The Second language is a person’s mother tongue. It is also called the natural language. In our country, we have stopped using the mother tongue and have created a conflict; because in our country, language of academics is English, which is NOT the natural language. We have not developed any other language of our own country which can be used to teach Medicine or Engineering. Even if we start now, we can’t teach these courses in any of our languages and it would take centuries to reach there.

…… The Third language is the universal language and it is called language of Mathematics. Two plus two is equal to four, is same anywhere in the world. Only how you write numerals will change, otherwise everything will remain the same. Lot of subjects become easy when you write it mathematically and there are a number of subjects which are Mathematics based. Physics is actually Mathematics. Einstein didn’t do any lab test for his formulas; he only found answers through mathematical formulas and all his greatness are outcome of mathematics only.

These three things need special attention and needs to be corrected. You will be surprised to know that there are only twenty countries in the world where their mother tongue and language of academia is different. In a country like Thailand, even medicine is taught in Thai…..they have made their language so rich. I was shocked when I heard this…..we couldn’t take any of our languages to that level. This is not the problem of developed world. This is the problem of these twenty countries where the mother tongue (first language) has not been taken to the level of the second language i.e. English. And if we are able to do these things in our mother tongue, say Hindi or Bangla or Tamil or Telugu….. It can easily be transferable in the second language, i.e., English.

For all of it to happen, we need to create a country of readers. We never read as a nation…..only 5% of the population i.e. the Brahmins read……otherwise everywhere else there was an oral tradition. Time has come for us to start reading!!

Review Board: Sir, this brings me to my next question. We need money to educate ourselves and we need jobs to earn that money back. It is like the cycle of zero sum game. Especially in our country, when a child is born parents are ready with a list of career options and all of it ends with a job. The Indian education system is creating a country of job seekers. Barring IITs, which are giving a good leverage to entrepreneurship, almost all other educational institutions in India are producing consumers for the job market and this has been continuously creating havoc like a very high unemployment rate, poor mental health of many which no one is ready to talk about and lack of inclusive growth across all economic strata of population. What steps should be taken to make this system capable enough to make our country a country of job creators and what role entrepreneurs can play in it?

Sandeep Srivastava: This is a very interesting question. We are celebrating the fact that we have a very expanding middle class. There are around 350-400 million people in the middle class; though there is huge disparity in this class itself, but we have defined it on a certain basis and reached this number. Now we are happy….This number is big…even bigger than the population of USA…..world is looking at us….beautiful…..But there is a flipside……and I call it “Curse of the middle class”. In this class, people look for and cling to security. We want our EMIs to be paid on time; we want a life where our children will keep paying their EMIs.

The Goal of education has become limited to “financial security”. It has stopped being the source of becoming human and an understanding of life; what else can be done with education. The curse of expanding middle class is that as it is expanding the points of this financial security are narrowing and converging. We are zeroing down to the most secure point where we can live a financially secure life and everyone is chasing those points only. We are bothered about adding something to it but not risking anything out of it to create something new…..one more house, one more flat to earn an extra rental income….that’s all we want.

In past fifteen years, professionals like Doctors, Engineers, CA’s etc., have made more money outside their profession. You will often hear a statement from people that “my hobby for Saturday and Sunday is to search property for investment”.

Review Board: We are busy securing money…..but that is not creating anything.

Sandeep Srivastava: That is the middle class curse…Business is all about coming out of your comfort zone, taking risk……….but middle class is risk averse. And with this expanding middle class, we have become more risk averse as a nation. Even if we want to do business, we look for Angel Investor first. We don’t want to take risk on our own money. The moment you get money from someone, pressure starts building from the day one. Obviously it will happen because when we have taken money from someone, we will be under pressure to pay him back……so rather than the idea behind the business, money becomes the priority. So, this whole expanding middle class becoming risk averse has repercussion on others.

Lower class people are watching this and they realize that if it is the goal of the middle class, then it must be the best solution for aspirations of life. And that’s why; the entire nation is looking for jobs, rather than thinking about creating one.

There is an electrician in my office who is on the retainer basis. He has been coming to me and crying that his son somehow cleared the tenth grade and now he does not want to study and also does not want to work with him. He wants to get a job. That is the situation everywhere. So, this middle class has created a risk averse education system and social environment where the financial security tops everything and that is a huge problem.

Review Board: And how will it change?

Sandeep Srivastava: If we are able to understand it then we will solve it. But, there are elements to it…..steps to it…..and Parenting is the first step. Education should focus on overall growth of the child. We need better education system which promotes innovation, which promotes change, which promotes entrepreneurship. Without giving any benefit, government is putting all the pressure, its responsibilities on entrepreneurs. It should not happen. An entrepreneur, who is barely surviving in order to create something must be supported and not pressurized to share the social responsibility of the government.

Review Board: So we have two takeaways from it: one, we have created a country of risk averse middle and lower class and second, if someone wants to create something….take a risk….then the government is piling on them the pressure of social responsibilities.

Sandeep Srivastava: I would like to put it this way……small entrepreneurs should not be treated as big corporate, at least for the purpose of sharing government’s social responsibilities….for example opening a crèche or giving a nine month’s maternity leave to a pregnant woman. Normally a woman comes back to work after a couple of months of delivery. She also does not want to be left behind in the career by staying out of the work. An entrepreneur also can’t go without a resource for nine months.

Government should first allow the entrepreneurs to reach a level where he can carry the burden of social responsibility. As an entrepreneur, I shall be given the same amount of privileges as big corporate. My degrees, my knowledge has no bearing on my capacity of raising money from the bank. It will only look at the collateral I can provide to the bank. Though people who can and have influence are able to get or manage the credit line. If there is no value of knowledge assets then what’s the point in creating that knowledge asset. By giving it no value at all, the government itself has put a question mark on the education system it has created. If all these things are happening, then how can a country of job creators be created?

Review Board: Sir, I won’t talk ask about policy decisions to improve the education system of India. That’s government’s prerogative and responsibility. But in this prevailing situation, what advice you would like to give to the students who aim to get the best education, which can give them best return of their investment in terms of time and money and keep them productive till end?

Sandeep Srivastava: Beautiful question again……..A child learns when the family learns. There is one approach since eternity where parents tell their children to read……It is “Go and study”.

How will your children go and study when you are either watching TV or talking to someone or doing something which is not related to study. A child imitates their elders. So, to educate a child, elders need to sit and learn and get educated again with them. Even if they are highly qualified, they need to do it again. First time they did so for themselves, second time they will have to do it for their children.

If as a parent they can’t do that then they won’t be able to make the life, purpose of life and goal of life clear to their children. An uneducated parent may face the challenge, but who are educated, must focus on it. As I have already told you that to get the education level of a family right, at least 3-4 generation is required. So, if someone is at the first level of this ladder, a lapse can very well be expected and can be accepted…..but not with the parents who are already well educated.

Once they start sitting with their children, they will understand them well and guide them with all the love and care. During this course, they will be able to get all the best learning’s of life to their children which will be with them till the end.

Review Board: Sir, you have already answered my last question. I want to ask this question again but from the parent’s point of view.

Sandeep Srivastava: We have already discussed that present education system and quality has degenerated to such a level that we need a completely new system. I will again reiterate that onus is on parents to seek better life for their children.

Better life doesn’t mean fighting tooth and nail for already narrowing career options and making it narrower by driving more and more people towards it. Purpose of life should not be to get to a situation were one is depressed or becomes a heart patient by focusing more and more on monetary aspect of life.

So, my request would be not to add anything more into it of that sort. Don’t reduce the human life to the level where only money matters….. Understand the very first fact that we are humans…….We have come to this world to evolve as a better human being…..not as a machine or an animal…..

Leave your comment
 
Amit Mishra
Very informative discussion . It shall really help to think from different perspective of education system .
Narender Kummar Sharma
It’s Hi time we work on our Education system, this era requires new dimensional thought process. To me most important is Values and emotional intelligence. Mukul Great initiative, keep this rolling. Cheers
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