Why Are Indian Students in Pursuit of a Western Education?

22 Nov


Being one of the growing number of CBSE students opting to go abroad for higher studies, I have been questioned on the same often. Questions like ‘Why abroad?’, ‘What is so different there?’, and ‘Is it not a wasteful expense?’ are staple in such conversations. The answer, however, is not something everyone can easily understand. To successfully comprehend it, we must delve a little deeper.

CBSE and its teaching method are, in my view, not compatible with the practicality of the modern world. It seems to prioritise working hard rather than working smart. From mugging up theorems of Physics to memorizing Philosophy – the CBSE style of education seems self-contradictory. For one, it seems to me that memorizing Philosophy is against the very essence of the subject.

As a CBSE student, I have seen people getting A+ in projects after ripping content off Wikipedia, while some of us toiled away to add our own personal touch. To me, it suggested a lack of regard for originality.

The CBSE has tried to experiment with different education methods. One such attempt is the introduction of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) method. CCE is inspired by the American way of education. But the challenge to implementing this program is – the average American public school has a student-teacher ratio of around 1:20, as opposed to the average CBSE school’s 1:120 (keeping in mind that each teacher teaches at least 3 batches). This makes it almost impossible for a teacher to personally know and correct each student.

This skewered student-teacher ratio encourages the business of tuitions. Tuitions are not really discouraged by schools. Statements like, “Ask your tutor”, or “I don’t have time to teach that again. Join a tuition”, are not uncommon. This popularity of tuitions in the Indian education scene shows that people are focused more on marks than learning. And standardized marking schemes do not cater to the different backgrounds and regions that students come from. So, the focus on marks takes away from the development of a complete personality.

All said, completely disregarding CBSE education would be wrong. Its simple and straightforward approach to various subjects and rigorous style of examinations, helps students to train for the pressures of higher education. For me, the question is – how effective is CBSE education in the practical world?

I think, this is the reason that students are increasingly attracted to western education. Top universities, which have huge endowments, and invest heavily in research and student welfare, can guarantee a level of educational and personal development, which is rare in their Indian counterparts.

In the recent years, India has also seen the rise of certain well-reputed institutions, like Ashoka and Symbiosis. The distinct characteristics of these institutions are not just their quality and method of education, or the new subject combinations, but also teaching staff which is diverse in terms of age and academic background.

This pleasant change has attracted many students yearning for practical knowledge, who want to be taught by teachers from the Ivy League or Oxbridge, while staying in India.

Students realise that a diverse set of people, and an independent environment provided by their university, can help shape them for life. And there is a perception that a western education enables students to pursue their passions, and increase their knowledge. It also fosters personal growth through encouraging social and cultural connections in a new country. This feeling underlines the attraction most students feel for a foreign university. And it still seems that most Indian colleges cannot answer these expectations as long as they focus on marks rather than knowledge.

By Aniketh Khutia

The author is a student of DPS, Ruby Park, Kolkata. The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own.

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