Gauthama (Paathshala) on Failure: Education in India

SELCO Foundation
Sep 12, 2018 · 2 min read

Why do governments pursue policy that works against their self-interest?” says Gauthama quoting Barbara W. Tuch, in an effort to draw a distinction against folly and mistakes.

Can there be suitable outcomes when we start off on the wrong foot? Of what use is micro-managing when the original plan is questionable?

The Context

Gauthama directs us to what he looks to as a telling anecdote, one that displays how far we have come, for better or worse. In the history of formal education, we don’t really see Bellary’s name figure on the list of the chronology.However, it was here that a district collector wrote back to the Raj writing about what he saw was an ideal education system, Indians had developed an economical, efficient education system.

In Bellary, he had witnessed a group of students under a tree without their teacher in sight. The collector was puzzled, what if the students got something wrong? Did they not need to be monitored.

One of students replied saying that even if one of them got an answer wrong, certainly all of them wouldn’t, thereby leading to a sort of participative educational experience.

The Failure

Gauthama takes us through the subsequent years that followed this crowning moment. The impact of colonialism, and the rise of a new value system being brought into place. He marks the pivotal phase as the Great Depression of 1929, a time where if you did not come from a recognised, prestigious institution, you lost the chance to obtain a government job- the only option available by way of vocation at the time.

It is this superficial burden of prestige over actual learning that Gauthama points towards our fundamental failure in education. It’s lack of universality and form over substance dictating the way education functions in the country to this very day.

The Diagnosis

“Any person in the sector is always looking to improve upon aspects of the system, but we never get around to questioning the system itself. We always work within and try to come up with solutions within that framework.”

Gauthama presents us a poignant message, can we tinker with a system that was flawed to begin with. Gauthama feels that a more urgent upheaval is in order.

Impact Failure

The aim of Impact Failure is to provide an in-depth and open discussion about the role of failure in the development space. The goal is also to celebrate learnings that emerge from failures and the impact that can be created through the learnings.

SELCO Foundation

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SELCO Foundation seeks to inspire and implement solutions that alleviate poverty by improving access to sustainable energy to underserved communities.

Impact Failure

The aim of Impact Failure is to provide an in-depth and open discussion about the role of failure in the development space. The goal is also to celebrate learnings that emerge from failures and the impact that can be created through the learnings.

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