Jnana Bhaskar Rao

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Why is primary education such a big deal?And should education mean the same for all?Should there even be standards for what one can learn?

Growing up in a country plagued by poverty i don't understand the great stress on education. Most people in my country are involved in agriculture. And they would rather send their children to the fields then to a primary school and i can't argue with it. Because i can't see how primary education will help them rise from poverty.Surely what comprises education for the these poor should be different from what it is for me in the urban middle-class. So what should they be taught in primary education? Letters, languages or how to improve productivity and avoid uncertainty in farming?

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    Oct 28 2013: All education, primary or otherwise, should be directed at the students needs, current and future and how those needs will direct the economics of their community. instead, time and time again we see governments focusing their educational curriculums on serving the needs of business and industry over those of the students and their communities.

    Of course reading, writing, comprehension and math skills are central to one's learning, but that is only the beginning of that learning not the end result. Check out another Ted related topic http://www.ted.com/conversations/20624/educating_students_about_how_t.html?c=765816
  • Oct 28 2013: Essentially what you are saying is that if they're already poor why not leave them there. Education opens your mind and your life to opportunities that you would not have had without it. Being in the middle class you might not appreciate the value of education, but I grew up in a situation that, were it not for education being free where I grew up, I would still be there, lost, ignored and hungry. Or maybe just dead.
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      Oct 28 2013: but what if the system of delivering education lacks any depth or insight.what if the students are made to just memeorize stuff without any application. do we still persist with such an education? is it still better for them?

      for two years i worked in an NGO that gave the benefits of English education to children in orphanages. now most other teachers there were college-going youths like me. they really lacked initiative and creativity in getting through to the kids in terms of the actual course. instead they just bonded with the kids. while that sounds good the whole objective of the exercise seemed defeated to me as the kids didn't really get any better with their English. What I am saying is despite the best of intentions and motivated people doing their bit it led to little or no good for those children at the end of the day. So it started me thinking that maybe primary education in its present form is not the path to upliftment.
      • Oct 28 2013: I see what your saying. It's one thing to know a subject but it's a whole other ball game to teach it. I'm sure there are people less knowledgeable in a certain subject but are way more effective at teaching the subject or any subject for that matter. Maybe they should focus a lot more on application.
      • Oct 28 2013: But then your question should not be about whether primary education has value, but whether there's better ways to educate. Whether there's ways to teach and reach and also give useful skills to children from an early age even if they're in a very poor situation. That's an entirely different ball-game, isn't it? I don;t think that my elementary education was of the utmost quality all-the-time, but a few teachers were authentic heroes who would make me understand that I could make it, but I had to earn it, for example.

        So I agree, good intentions is not enough. But, I guess, it would be much worse if nobody even tried, wouldn't it? Now go fix those problems.
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    Oct 27 2013: Think for a moment, Primary Education: which make the children to understand their surrounding. What is the going on and what will effect on their life. In Simple word Primary education give the ability to choose right and wrong by their own idea.
    Let's consider if one person is illiterate, this person will depends on other person and will get fact according to other. Fact can be modified by other person for selfish. In this condition person can't contribute in country/world/humanity according to his creativity, what he have so, primary education is big deal.
    As I explained every person has different ability and creativity, So education should be according to the their ability. Standard of primary education should be in such a way, person can take their best decision for his life and his country/world.
    As Indian, There is huge poverty and different standard of education. A farmer struggle to earn his life since morning to evening. How he can afford the expenditure of education of their child. If you see Indian Govt. Primary Education program, there is no standard of that education in compare to urban primary education.
    According to me, In India Educated person should be take effort to fill the gap. For example you can easily see in your town or home, A family (Educated Family: most of the member of the family work as officer or in MNC) which have lot of money and their child getting education in public school. in the same family there are one or two child worker to serve them as well as their child.
    At last, we have to take initial step to educate other person as well as our child not 100% but approximate 1% effort to educate other child specially who serve you as your servant by giving them unused cloths and books of their child. In this way we can get better result, in compare to give all responsibility to government to educate rural child. Language of primary education should be in mother tongue. All the rest child can do when he come to know his abilities.
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      Oct 28 2013: The point I would like to make is the primary education being imparted is just not serving the purpose. It is seen by by both the teachers and students in many places as a chore or duty to be done with. Hence I am not sure if it is really helping the children to develop discretionary ability as you say. So would it not be better to emphasize on something else more closer to their lives rather than waste their time in a classroom where they are disinterested totally?
      • Oct 28 2013: at least give them a chance cause if they don't make it In school there just gonna get that type as job any how, right?
  • Oct 22 2013: I think the education should be individual to the student's talent, drive, and desires. It is a way out of poverty, possibly for the whole family. For all we know that farmers child could be another Ramanujan or could get into IIT.
  • Oct 22 2013: Without a few bare essentials, reading and writing, basic mathematics, perhaps a foreign language, if you're born a farmer, you stay a farmer.
    Its not about turning all the farmers into doctors and lawyers overnight. Its about allowing the brighter ones the ability to stop being farmers.

    Eventually, as the economy begins modernizing, you end up with less and less people needed for manual labor. That's when the education really comes in--they'll be out of a job and with no prospect of finding a new one once a machine starts doing their manual job better.
    This isn't a bad thing, if handled correctly. It increases quality of life if the transition goes well.

    There is also the impact on the country at large. Without widespread education, you're going to have a shortage in things like doctors, engineers and other academic professions.
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      Oct 28 2013: Well basic mathematics is definitely essential. but even with primary education most farmers tend to stay farmers. granted there will be one in a thousand extra-ordinary success story but what would be even better is a system where you get one in ten such stories. I'd like to think we could be teaching them logical reasoning, experimenting technique through practical examples (to eliminate the need for language learning)or some such thing which they can immediately use rather than grammar. I am not saying education is unnecessary. Its indispensable. but in its present form its highly inefficient.
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    Oct 22 2013: the rich is the key ,i think it's better to learn the rich there how to don't forget the poor in primary ,the problem is big and stronger than our will wish doing....maybe one day the next generations will have the opportunity for a serious education,i hope...Thank you
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    Oct 21 2013: I often recommend Banarjee and Duflo's book Poor Economics. One section addresses the benefits of each additional year of schooling for the population about which you are asking. Most of parents who are surveyed do not hope for their children to be farmers or small business people, even if the parents are in those occupations. Education can improve productivity, but it also can become a pathway to a career different from that of their parents.

    This does not mean education should be the same for all, but the value of primary education, including instruction in reading and writing has been demonstrated in research.
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      Oct 28 2013: great book suggestion. i am definitely gonna read it. thanks.