India and China are like oranges and apples – very different yet we both are constantly compared, at least within India. But apart from population, what we share with China is an education system which puts too much emphasis on test/exam results, giving no importance to the development of a child as a person. And China on 8th July issued a new set of guidelines to change this, where the focus would be less on exams and more consideration paid to physical, cultural and political education.
China too has an exam-oriented education system where, like in India, Chinese students are overloaded with schoolwork and lack sufficient physical exercise, which has given rise to health problems such as obesity and myopia. Even the promotions of teachers and all those involved in education is directly linked to the performance of the students in exams, just like in India.
China realizes that it will soon have to move away from being merely the manufacturing economy to a tech-oriented economy and for that it aims to build more innovation into the educational system.
The new guidelines puts more emphasis on cultivating cognitive ability, promoting the development of thinking and stimulating the sense of innovation.
Sounds great but the Govt does not want to do away with the two exams which is at the root cause of all grief and systemic problems in the sector – gaokao and the zhongkao -- the entrance exams for university and secondary school respectively. So as long as these exams remain, surely nothing else, no change in guideline will matter. This is so similar to our rat race and stress children face for 10th and 12th standard exams. And of course, unlike China, we also have to contend with “quotas” which compounds the problem further. The current mess in the medical education sector is a pointer to the mess we are in.
Well, China is at least showing the foresight to make children employable; in India it is always hindsight.