Changing Kerala education system

In response to a feature in The Times of India, “Math, science or Eng, it’s girls all the way,” Mar. 21, 2016.

The feature highlights an absurdity with education in Kerala and in India.

“The national mean in English for boys was 248 and 252 for girls. In Kerala the figures were 245 and 254 respectively. While the national mean in maths, science and social sciences was 250, Kerala boys 252, 272 and 264, which was less compared to 258, 279 and 269 scored by the girls here. In modern Indian language, the national mean was 246 for boys and 254 for girls. In Kerala, boys scored 267 and girls 283.”

The problem is the current scoring system. Except for maths, large part of the score is based on recalling facts. There is no validity in saying the student who scored 252 is more knowledgeable than the one who scored 248, since the margin for error is larger than the difference. This is one reason why letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) is a better choice. By placing the measurements in bands, it is less error prone. For example, a particular C student may be better than a particular B student. But when taken in aggregate, a student who consistently scores B is very likely to be better than one who scores C consistently.

Another defect with the current scoring system is the focus on tutoring to gain high test scores, at the expense of critical thinking abilities. By collecting questions from past tests and memorizing possible answers, it is possible to get high test scores in the current system without subject matter comprehension or understanding. This impacts their job performance after graduation [2, 3].

Along with changing the scoring in schools, entrance examinations also need to be changed to de-emphasize test scoring and prioritize comprehension, understanding and critical thinking. Maybe one way is to integrate internship and job training in the education system. This will eliminate the current dependence on test scores for job placement, at the same time ameliorate the current job skills deficit. Adopting the best practices from the German job training system, while eliminating its deficiencies, would be good starting point.

In addition to changing the grading system, teaching methods also need change. Currently there is too much emphasis on facts and data. With availability of internet, facts and data are easily available. What is needed are skills for analyzing data to reach conclusions and make decisions. In sciences, applying knowledge gained in experiments to further understanding of the real world dynamics is important. But lab facilitates are grossly inadequate in schools, and must be upgraded.

To sum up, essential changes required for education in Kerala and India are:

  1. Replace scoring methodology
  2. Change entrance examination culture
  3. Changes in teaching methods
  4. Better lab and learning facilities
  5. Integrate job training and internship into the education system.

Without these changes, over analyzing scores with the current system provides no insights for improving the skills needed in a modern economy. more>

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Author: Kerala Insider

Topics and issues related to Kerala economic development challenges.