Swami Vivekananda had written this letter to Shrimati Sarala Ghoshal, editor of The Bharati, Darjeeling, on the 24th of April, 1897. It is indeed interesting how, 115 years later, everything written about Indian education in the letter still applies.
For instance, I wonder if India has made any seminal progress in allowing independence of thought. Intrinsic feudal attitudes that might have set in from the numerous invasions on India, are yet to change. The oppressive learning methods of the British colonial age have not yet been reformed yet. In the feudal age, independent thinking might not have mattered much because the royals were expected to think the well being of the people. But in a democracy, where public discourse is paramount, independent thinking is extremely critical. The other concern is the lack of originality. It essentially needs devotion from both teachers and students. Our education system is based more on vocational training. While this is necessary, there is a need of education that inspires intrinsic love and duty towards the profession, and humanity in general, which should not be a matter of merely money, but something for which a teacher takes extra pain and performs in his vocation considering it a mission of his life.
What is desperately needed in India is an education revolution based on the lines shown by Swami Vivekananda, while keeping the religion out. No country has transited from being poor and backward to being rich and developed without an education revolution. Surprisingly, the education standard of the highly expensive schools are also not comforting. There may be many excuses, be it the skills of the teachers or the huge numbers of students. Shockingly, many of these schools have started to outsource the teaching of some subjects in senior classes to the coaching enterprises. This shows how deep rooted the problems are.
While some corporate houses and NGOs are trying to improve the quality of education, there has to be a great thrust in actually making this change come. I wish the top businessmen of India along with the government pool together their resources to scale up the work of these successful models of educational institutions. Can the energy of the whole nation converge for providing the quality education for every child? Education alone has the power to resolve all the major problems India faces today- may it be poverty, or health, or political leadership.