“Indians have been successful despite their education, not because of it”

I vehemently hate our education system. Yes, vehemently is a big word but so

is my hate towards this messy and useless system. I have been at the mercy of

this system for a good 4 years of my life and in the end I have a lot to say about

it so buckle up kids, it’s gonna be a rocky ride.

First, some historical context for you-

Way back in 1835 when the English Education Act was passed by the lovely

East India Company the industrial revolution was in full swing and the English

needed “yes men” at that time, they needed clerks, they needed people who

were good at sitting on their desks and memorising things. They need people

with strong STEM abilities. They needed people, in short, to obey and keep

their mouths shut and thus our education system was born.

A system that prioritizes awards and marks over it does creativity and

innovation. A system that hardly ever updates, hardly ever changes. A system

that is stagnant, a system that demoralises children more than it motivates

them. When we praise our people in achievements in their fields we must

remember that Indians have been successful despite their education and not

because of it. India produces the highest number of engineers every year yet

we stand at the 60 th in the global innovation index.

Why is that? Why is it that our children are unable to innovate? To invent?

Why is that not even one secondary school here made it to the 100 Qs


The answer to these questions lie in our inability to answer the first word itself.


I’ll give you a small task. Call up any of your friends and ask them why they are

studying what they are studying. I can promise you the odds of getting a

satisfactory answer are close to zero.

Sure. People have different reasons to enrol in one course than any other but

the basic crux of the subject itself is hardly ever questioned or probed much by

anyone. We do not know what or why we are studying what we are studying.

We do not understand how our text book knowledge will translate into real life


I didn’t understand how studying differentiation was going to affect my life a

year ago and to this day I have not once in my life seen some real life practical

reason for it.

And I am not the only one feeling this way. We do not know why we are

studying what we are studying and that creates a fundamental divide in our

minds towards studying and actually understanding what it is that we are


Our education system however, does not concern itself with these trivial

questions. Here, it does not want you to answer the “why” it only wants you to

mug up and vomit on a test paper. It does not test your interest or your

understanding of the subject matter only your ability to retain it.

As if this wasn’t bad enough our education system is also hypocritical in the

sense that it boasts itself of being “holistic” while at the same time prejudices

and disrespects subjects while favouring others.

You know what I am talking about. Yes, there is a clear cut hierarchy in our

education system and it runs like this-


2. Commerce

3. Humanities

4. Art

This ranking is not subjective it is very, very real and it translates into

very real consequences as well. The cut offs are widely different for

getting into admitted into any of these streams, the tests are conducted

with different levels of sincerity, the subjects are taught with a different

mindsets (STEM is taught like your life depends on it while art is seen as

a hobby at its best)

Our system deeply discriminates and creates negative associations

with some streams than it does with other. These sentiments are then

caught up by our teachers that communicate it to our parents that

communicate that to us . In the end we are left thinking that some

things are worth studying while others are not. When I talk about

“suicide” in the title I do not only refer to the literal sense of the word

but rather the metaphorical suicide of interest and wonder and curiosity

and everything good and important that can and should be derived from


When I was in 12 th grade I came across a quote that I saw in practice

again and again during the course of the year the quote was “Never let

school come in the way of your education”

Education for me at least, means something worth understanding.

Whether it be a prose or an equation; education means understanding

my world and the people living in it a little bit better.

It means to analyse the problems around us and to think solutions for

those problems. Education for me means history and civics and

mathematics and science and commerce all taught in unity, together,

complimenting each other as they so often do in real life and not in

isolation like they are taught in our schools.

Education for me cannot be numerated or quantified or tested the way

it currently is. It means something beautiful, it means the spark in your

eyes when you read a fact that interests you so much that you cant help

but stay up all night researching deeper and deeper into it. It is when

people talk about math like it’s the most logical and beautiful and valid

thing in this world. It means my economics teacher in school never once

glancing the text book because she knew by heart the truths that she

was teaching, it means my English teacher doing different accents while

she read out plays to communicate the meaning a little bit better to us.

Education is something really, really beautiful and important and I will

never not be mad at our system for withholding education in its truest

sense from most of us.

Education, I think fundamentally for me means the freedom to make

mistakes. Whether it be art or science whatever wonderful has been

achieved by mankind has been achieved by a continued struggle that

invariably has included heart breaks and mistakes. Currently the way this

system operates mistakes are not allowed.

You studied the entire year but couldn’t do well in the boards due to

some XYZ reason? Oh boo hoo we don’t care. Here, take your meagre

96% and go sit in some Uni preparation tuitions where they’ll teach you

how to solve maximum MCQ’s in 15 minutes.

Mistakes are not allowed, they are not encouraged. Kids feel like if they

do something wrong then that’s it. Done. Do or die. No learning here


Our kids deserve to have a safe environment where they can fail. We

need to work on our acceptance of how and what, we perceive failure


Our education system should be designed in a way that lets kids fail, a

place where failure is not only accepted but looked at in a positive light.

A place to improve, to change and not to degrade and demean.

When asked how many times he faced failure while inventing the light

bulb, Edison replied “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways it

won’t work”

Here’s to education and to failure. Cheers.

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