It is always an aim for a teacher, educationist or a policy maker to advocate an education policy that is more vibrant, student friendly and practically viable. As we are witnessing paradigm shift from the conventional learning process to modern learning process, there is always debate whether to keep balance between the two or stick to single process. It is pertinent to mention that the existing education system in our part of world is still relevant as we have to impart education to the raw talent based in rural areas. However, there is need to make genuine improvements in education system in order to keep pace with the rest of the world. The aims and ambitions of education have changed over the years. The overarching aim of education in past was simply to education and impart knowledge to the students, and also to fulfill the dream of achieving hundred per cent literacy rate. Now scenario has changed in recent times as more focus is gaining momentum towards the development of productive human resource by imparting both education and skill. Therefore, there is need of rethinking in some areas of education policy and to aim for vibrant and innovative education system that is holistic in nature. It is a herculean task (but possible) to produce highly skilled young brigade from our schools, colleges and universities who are our future opportunity providers (not opportunity seekers).
The case of dynamic and innovative education system rests on the fact that we have multiple talents in schools with wide range of mental faculties. For example, some of the students have theoretical mindset, while as others have conceptual. It is important to work out on that education system that takes care of both of these mental aspects. The students having conceptual mind-set cannot compete well in the strictly rote memory and theory based examination system. I have come across students in my class who were highly talented with exceptional knowledge, but they performed poorly in the traditional examination pattern, thus showing that conventional examination system may not be suitable for all (though necessary evil). As I have taught as lower and higher levels, and also conducted some action research, I have an experience to share some of the ideas that can be used for growth of our education system.
We still judge the ability of candidate in the examination through his/her theoretical knowledge (rote memory based knowledge) without caring about real problem solving potential. Immediate steps are needed to harness the real potential of our talented youth through creation of innovative centers (IC). These innovative centers will act as small laboratories where we can resolve our pressing issues through technological intervention. There are various ways by which students can be made innovative. They can be trained in such a way so that they take calculated risks. For example, teacher can tell them to try lot of ways to solve a problem without any fear. By changing the attitude of students in this way, one can inculcate the feature of independence and confidence among the students so that they use their natural talents. Some students may be asked to solve simple day-to-day life problems and give some immediate solution. This approach will enable teachers to increase natural capabilities of budding talent. The aim should be to transform school conditions into natural environment, where inherent abilities of students are groomed. If we consider that every student have been created with specific talent, and try to polish their innate abilities, there are ample chances that we may end up with productive and independent human resource. However, it is important to polish and judiciously use the abilities of youngsters so that they excel in their dreams. The recent step of Directorate of Education to establish 'Mobile Laboratory' is one of the steps that will inculcate practical knowledge among students of far off areas. Such steps need to be appreciated and acknowledged, nevertheless, more efforts should be taken to make education more innovative.
Science education needs revamp
Thomas Wendt and his co-workers (2007) argued that decreasing trend in life science does not seem to be the problem of society, but rather related to the way, science is taught in school. So, before we ponder why youngsters are not taking up Science as a career, we should right our basics. This can be initiated at school level where we have to establish infrastructure facilities in such a way so that talented youths are attracted towards Science. Alternate way is to train our teachers in such a way that they will stress on experimentation rather than rote memory based education. In addition examination system needs overhauling because we follow traditional system to examine the natural talent. Somehow we have to follow John Dewey's method (a method in which student is given liberty in dealing with real-life tasks and challenges, also known as progressive education) of teaching at least in science subjects where youth will have liberty to think and act freely.
Integrate teaching with research
Research and innovation are central in any walk of life or knowledge for development, progress and enrichment. Progress of any country or society is directly or indirectly related to various research and innovative indicators. It is important for us to understand that unproductive human resource is of no use in the present competitive hi-tech world. Time has come to integrate teaching with research in our higher education system. Past experience in west has shown that complementing theoretical knowledge with practical knowledge has succeeded in achieving the set goals. There is need for adopting research based or inquiry based learning at undergraduate and graduate level so that inquisitive talent of youth is polished. Several scholars have suggested numerous ways in which research can be integrated into teaching and learning environment. However, it is important to understand that traditional scheme of learning must not be ignored, but efforts should be made to compliment it with the so called "teaching-research nexus".
In sum, innovative approach is needed to review our education system as per modern standards.
Let us hope that our state achieve great strides in education sector in years to come.
(The views expressed are author's own and do not necessarily reflect views of the Institution or the organization with which he is associated)
Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is SERB-DST Fast Track Fellow, Department of Zoology, CUK, Sonwar Campus