HARSHITAA NUNKOO

The world has been spinning differently ever since the outbreak of technology, and yet most education systems around the world, including ours, are still adapted for the 1900s. The world for which this education system was adapted no longer exists. It’s gone. Hence, not only does the syllabus need to be reviewed, but it needs to be reprogrammed to adapt to this new era. But clearly, that’s not what’s happening.

“It’s easier to land a man on Mars than to change the school system!”– Elon Musk

During the past 10 years, the level of education has been on an extraordinary decline in Mauritius and the most shocking failure dates to 2019 where only 30% of students managed to score at least 5 credits for the Cambridge O Level exams.

Not just that, but despite the multiple resources, technologies, and facilities at our disposal, the level of education in our country isn’t elevating at all! Instead, the performance of students is becoming progressively disturbing with more failures each year.

So, what’s exactly the issue?

In our country, the education system is extremely academic, bulky, stressful, exhausting and unproductive. For instance, if school had been really that effective, how else would you explain the growing trend of “after school tuition”?

Where’s the loophole?

To begin with, our education infrastructure itself is intensely dysfunctional, boring, and outdated. I mean, science is so much more that what our textbooks and the syllabus limit us to. There are so many things to explore, to discover, to experience, to experiment with, rather than just recording the time taken for the oscillation of a simple pendulum and performing acid-base titrations! Besides, how does any of that even test our knowledge?

And yet, that’s literally all we do in science classes! We learn science like literature!!

Where is the excitement, the fun, the enthusiasm, the knowledge, the creativity, or the thrill? There isn’t any! That’s the issue! And teachers still wonder why students are so uninterested.

Worse, the little of time and equipment spent in scientific principles that existed in my parents’ time have disappeared. I have not seen the Moir’s fringes we study in physics, not looked under a microscope in a biology class and not observed the spontaneous reaction of sodium in water….

The truth is that the students are not even learning anything at all! They aren’t doing anything that will trigger their interest, that will make them genuinely want to learn, or that will make them more curious and want to discover more.

In simpler words, the Mauritian school system is only developing and improving our parrot-learning skills, copying skills, and cheating skills. Because at the end of the day, our exams are nothing more than a memory test.

Today’s students are smarter, more creative, more ingenious. Therefore, the way to seduce them into loving education is by appealing to the things they are fervent about.  Schools need to stop teaching given the assumption that 30 kids are all equal. Rather, schools need to start teaching students as individuals, having unique skills, abilities, interests, and capacity. Therefore, to be able to exploit the maximum potential of students, education needs to be tailored for each student, and they should not be expected to supposedly meet an abstract “standard” of education.

At present, our education infrastructure is quite similar to a tuna manufacturing factory, except that all fishes are not necessarily tuna, and yet, they are about to be processed in exactly the same way as the tuna fishes.

I mean, just imagine trying to squeeze a shark into a tuna box! It doesn’t make any sense!

In a country where human resources are the wheels of the economy, losing more than half of the potential of the youth to the education system is silly and absurd!

Now, let’s take a look at another education system.

For instance, in the United States, the education system doesn’t revolve completely around academics. Students are not expected to fit in a standard box. Instead, they are given a platform to experiment, to explore, to develop their passion and to refine their skills.

Arts and sports are promoted, creativity is encouraged, imagination is appreciated, innovation is welcomed, new ideas and new thoughts are given the chance to develop. How else do you think Facebook was invented? Creativity was just given a chance.

And people still wonder why America is that powerful. Well, the education system speaks for it!

But in our country, it’s quite the opposite, with “Blinkeducation” (education with the use of blinkers) being the norm. Students are restricted into specific pathways and repetitive tasks just like horses are equipped with blinkers to race straight ahead and not to waste time to imagine anything else – literally like robots. New ideas and thoughts are dismissed as “waste of time” or “not in the syllabus”. And if you dare question the system, you’re blacklisted! Clearly, it is the survival of the formatted instead of the fittest.

But now, things are changing. The revolution of modern technologies has brought quite an upheaval in the job market. People are being replaced by machines which have the capacity to execute the same task quicker, better and with lesser scope for errors. Hence, the world clearly does not need people to function like lesser productive robots anymore! And the only solution is education. But the traditional one is the wrong approach.

We will instead need to fall back on things that are uniquely human, like art, teamwork, leadership, empathy, innovation, imagination, understanding, creativity, and ingenuity. Education needs to emphasize on our human talents and abilities. But unfortunately, schools kill just that!

Our academic system is lagging behind and desperately needs to be reconstructed. If not, our generation and the following ones would be technically doomed to joblessness!