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Shocking Flaws in Our Education System

Sunday, February 11, 2018 12:31 AM

Hello,

 

In this post I am penning down few fundamental flaws of Indian higher education system in an easy-to-digest manner for the minds. Here, I have attempted to make a case as to why, by the year 2030, none of the Indian higher education institutions will be in the list of top-20 or 50 or even in the top-200 best universities in the world. 

 

Fundamental Flaw No-1: Factory Model of Education

 

     Sir Ken Robinson, in his brilliant TED Talk, eloquently described the bias of education system towards producing industry centric outcomes. In his words, “whole system was invented around the world; there were no public systems of education before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism”. He is right. We do classify our students in batches, label them with unique IDs, and finally quality assurance tags them with CGPA for future reference of quality. Educational process which handles a student’s learning is strikingly similar to what is done in a typical factory’s assembly line. Defective parts are generally chucked out with marginal attempts to recover their value in the final product, i.e. there is no recycling after the educational journey is over. This leads to some nasty consequences as well where figures show rise in the percentage of students who drop-out or sometimes even commit suicide because they can’t cope up with the mind-bending realities of our educational system [1].

 

       In the past, if you had a degree then you could easily get a job, now degrees are everywhere. Economic realities of educational system are giving rise to academic inflation. Therefore, the real value of a degree has fallen down substantially over the last few decades to the point that corporates have started to overlook qualifications due to the industry-academia gap. Finally, the output from current factory model of education is, quite literally, a big zero due to lack of employability. This is also seen as a major concern across India and globe. [2].

 

Fundamental Flaw No-2: Lack of Understanding of Human Creativity and Learning

 

     We know that humans as intellectual beings develop themselves organically. They learn from their mistakes and become better overtime with experience. Mistakes are necessary to learn and progress further, but education system on the other side, de-incentivizes mistakes with even impose strict remedial measures to curve the root cause of “trying to learn” by students. Educational system, by virtue of being split into varied levels of education, produces a nasty consequence where it expects certain level of pre-existing academic ability from a student. Anyone not having the required academic ability suffers tremendously and is further pushed down the pipe labeled as a ‘poor’ or ‘below average’ student. This sticks with that student for rest of his life causing severe destruction of self-esteem, internal drive and respect, i.e. ideal for a conformist society.

 

     Furthermore, there is very little attention given to human creativity. Imagine a student is able to reach an answer to a question he/she was asked, the evaluative judgment for awarding marks is mostly based on the given final outcome, i.e. the accuracy of the answer, ignoring the evaluation of the creative process by which student achieved the final answer. We clearly lack a better tool to judge ‘how’ that student resolved the internal ambiguities of his mind and creatively reached the conclusive answer. There is no measure employed or devised to be used at this massive scale for measuring an individual’s creativity. In fact, on the contrary a creative individual can be perceived as a non-conformist or again labeled as a ‘poor’ student.  

 

Fundamental Flaw No-3: Knowledge Delivery and Meritocratic Measurements of Academic Ability 

 

     To understand this, think of education system as a delivery vehicle for disseminating scientific knowledge. If you compare it to any religion, you’re going to have to conclude that religions outperform our education system in terms of effectiveness and intended learning outcomes.  Religions do something quite similar in a much more effective way than the education system. The utilize most senses of mind/body to deliver the message using auditory, visual, and verbal means brilliantly to engage and disseminate knowledge from scriptures. Furthermore, they structurally map their teachings to celestial events imparting daily discipline and employ concept of communicative repetition for reinforcing the prescribed teachings to their followers. Almost seems too good to be true, but religions employ better and varied knowledge delivery mechanisms than our current education system. 

 

       For lack of a better way to find out whether or not a human has learned the knowledge, we have put the evaluation systems to strictly measure the elusive academic ability. Beneath lies the idea of meritocratic academic achievement, which states that only those human should rise in societal hierarchy and called ‘successful’ who possess the most amount of academic ability. The Reality, however, is much different as there aren’t many top businessmen, politicians, or successful wealthy humans who became who they are today just ‘because’ of their academic ability. Honestly, If you look around, you’re more likely to find someone successful ‘because’ they did not take formal education literally than those who had stick to it, and in the end, couldn’t achieve success as they once wished for.

 

Fundamental Flaw No-4: Lack of standard metric to gauge ROI from formal education

 

       Purpose of the higher education system is to equip us with required knowledge, skills, and competencies and help us progress into the future that we can’t grasp today. People invest massively in the education system while at the same time no one has a clue how the world will look-like in coming 5 years, obviously everyone is supposed be educated for it. Preparing for future isn’t necessarily a bad strategy. But the key question is whether you are better off without the long-term investment in formally educating yourself?  The answer to this question lies in analyzing Return-On-Investment using a standard method. As of now, this standard method of measuring ROI does not exist.

      

     Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll find this post useful and I will post more about our education system in the future.  In case if you wish to add any additional point to the post, then please leave a comment below.

 

 

Healthcare Horrors in India – Pt.1 of 3

Sunday, February 4, 2018 2:55 AM
Hello everyone!

In few upcoming posts, I will be making a case against the current state of public and private healthcare system in India which, I believe, desperately needs a technological fix.  Let us first understand what is wrong with it before we attempt to fix it in this part-1 of the blog post.

Critical to our survival is having good health and preventive measures by eating healthy and yes, by exercising regularly. Previous generation took this notion not so seriously; hence you see alarming number of patients in hospital admittance charts for the age groups between 45-60 years of age. Life expectancy has surely risen due to advances in medical technology and adopting new advancements in real-world medical applications by healthcare institutions and practicing doctors. However, this is just one side of the story.

To understand the other side of the story, let’s do a little role-play in which you are the patient. Your life’s going on as it should and one day you find out that there is a new health concern and which may affect your ability to complete some routine work. You first ignore it for some time, hoping that it would go away on its own, but it doesn’t and a realization pours in that you need help. Medically speaking, if the medical severity of this health concern is beyond your own ability to treat it, you are bound to look for a healthcare provider nearby your residence or office. This exact moment might be the gateway to hell.

Similarly, there are many patients who end up in a hospital to experience what healthcare has to offer through those advancements in medical technologies. For the most part, things go well, as long as they do not have a complicated or chronic health concern. Maybe one day you get fever or have sore throat, those nifty little paracetamol tablets take good care of this issue. But advances in healthcare are supposed to handle much more than that. And why not, healthcare system deals with life and death scenarios affecting almost everyone.

Ideally, we expect any healthcare institution to deliver the following fundamental promises:
1.    Diagnosing correctly, accurate prescriptions, and targeted treatment of diseases.
2.    Offer preventive measures for the future and preventing any further visits.
3.    Staying affordable enough for an average person in the long term.

For a healthcare institution to fulfill these expectations, it must have the following:
1.    Experienced doctors and well trained staff and ability to offer super-specialties
2.    Up-to-date infrastructure, clinical/laboratory equipment, and pharmaceutical drugs of good quality available in ample quantity.
3.    Employ best practices in day-to-day operations and provide a comfortable environment to the patients and their attendees.

Would you say we are expecting too much from them? I don’t think so; this is probably just the bare minimum, isn’t it?

As of now, there is no credible source of information that helps a potential patient find a suitable healthcare provider. Therefore, majority of the potential patients rely on their own judgement or family members’ knowhow, if they know where to go or maybe just Google it like most of the world does nowadays. You come to know that there is ‘this’ hospital or ‘that’ doctor you from others’ talks and then you decide to go there. When you reach the hospital and look around a flood of thoughts go through your head about what kind of place you’re in, how’s the hygiene around here, etc. You look at various nurses or staff roaming around minding their own business, sometimes chatting and smiling at each other. You recall your focus and look for where to go and whom to approach. Then you find a desk where a very busy looking person is sitting caught up in the paperwork or looking at the computer screen.

An average person trusts a healthcare institution blindly for the most part either because they lack basic medical knowledge or they are unable to comprehend medical facts to form concrete basis for an informed decision. None of these are faults of that average person. Internet technology has somewhat addressed the first challenge by making information available along with few quirks. The second one remains a challenge and gives rise to many unfair practices by healthcare institutions where they ask or expect a patient to understand the potential consequences of opting for treatment or not. If you opt-in, then you agree to become the ‘test subject’ for the hospital. An alternate is to opt-out, then you reach nowhere and the health concern stays with you until you figure out where to go next. To avoid the hassle, most people opt-in, and thereafter in case of any risk, the legal liability of any negative consequence from a treatment is always made to rest on the patient. I strongly feel that should obviously fall on the healthcare institutions instead.
 
I hope you’ll find this post useful and I will post rest of the parts in continuation to this post in the future.  In case if you wish to add any additional point to the post, then please leave a comment below.

What is Blockchain Technology

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 11:55 PM
Hello,

In this post I will explain, in layman's terms, this new hype about blockchain technology and the promises it brings to the world of information technology. Before I begin to tell what it is and how useful it might be in future, let me just be upfront and say blockchain is NOT a new advancement in any hardware technology or improvement in existing programming languages etc.

Blockchain simply is a way to program a software application. It can be thought of as a new conceptual model on how software applications should work with the data they process, how and where this data is stored, etc.  What about Bitcoin? You keep hearing these cryptic names over the internet alongside the Blockchain technology! Well, Bitcoin in a nutshell is a distributed software application designed to act as a payment network for its users. Bitcoin works using the blockchain technology underneath.

In a blockchain based software application, imagine that once some piece of information is created it can never be destroyed. This information can be a payment transaction, or an online vote by a citizen to a politician, or criminal history of someone etc. You might say why can’t we do that without the blockchain technology?

This is a key question. The answer, as of now, is that you can’t. Software applications designed based on blockchain architecture work independently of human control. Once these applications are live on the internet, they coordinate with each other, share and store data at multiple locations simultaneously to enable high availability of the data. Any one person or application can’t temper with the historical data due to strong foundational design of blockchain technology. Sounds interesting and a bit dangerous too, no? 

I hope you’ll find this post useful and I will post more about blockchain technology in continuation to this post in future.  In case if you wish to add any additional point to the post, then please leave a comment below.

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