Cost of education and the price of knowledge

The 1.3 billion Indian citizens amongst which more than 40 percent of the population is aged between 5 and 24 years. India has one of the largest youth populations in the world and we should be concerned about them now.

We have all heard the inspirational stories of young Indian entrepreneurs starting from nothing and rising to heights unimaginable for the average Indian. All we have also heard is the lack of resources for these geniuses and how they preserved through all those difficulties. We aim to be like them and push our youth to strive for the same. Since independence we have come far ahead in terms of advancements in infrastructure yet we have not made the much-needed changes in our education system.

Gone are the days when schools were just places of learning. Schools and colleges in India have become lucrative businesses that are drawing investors all across the world. Unlike our grandparents who had to search for a school nearby, our parents and ourselves are overwhelmed trying to find a “good” school from the plethora of options available. With schools competing on a warpath on what they offer, one would expect the quality of education to rise exponentially. Sadly this is not the case today and rather the quality of education has further degraded.

A decade ago when we got a phone call from a school it would mean the child needs attention and phone calls from school were quite rare. The situation has completely changed today with schools actively calling parents and trying to get their children to join the schools. This has become so prevalent that new jobs dedicated to cold calling people and convincing them to join their children in school have become a thing. Educational institutions now have sales teams earning more than teachers. with teachers burdened with more students than they can handle and having to resort to shortcuts and punishment to achieve targets set by the school management.

More than 121 education licenses have been cancelled to date and many institutions have been blacklisted by the government for various reasons like hiking fees, quality of education, mismanagement and many more. However, this hasn’t stopped the existing educational institutions from exploiting citizens. Students are treated as a commodity from which profit can be made and the schools go to any lengths to achieve their targets. the rising cases of student suicide and the news of students being physically abused in schools make it clear about the value of students in the eyes of educational institutions.

While the government has set rules and regulates the amount of fee a school can demand the loopholes were soon found and exploited in form of additional non-related fees. The fees range from computer fees, library fees, participation(cultural, social) fee to something trivial as misconduct fees. With schools demanding students buy uniforms, textbooks, stationery from the school itself at an inflated price the money spent on education has risen considerably.

The inflexibility and profit mindedness of schools came to light in a major part of the country when most educational institutions refused to reduce the annual fee and eliminate miscellaneous fees during the pandemic. The already burdened parents who had to procure phones, tablets and computers for online education now had to pay the full fee even though the schools did not have to pay more and paid less in rents, utilities during the pandemic for their services.

So, this brings us to the most important question of the topic. “Is the education worth the price?” And the answer is a NO. The education system in India has broken down and is only producing graduates who can barely make it in the world and are plagued by fear and burdened by the expectations of their parents. With the need for the young population to replace existing workers, the education system must be reformed without any further delay.

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