A few days ago, I wrote about why education reform in itself is not important and why we need existing ideas of education scrapped and new and useful ones to be developed on the Homeschooling India blog.
I was looking for ways to bring home the point that education is rapidly losing relevance. Look what I found!
This is the Google Trend for education from 2004 to 2013 in India. Please remember that India is a YOUNG country with about half the population being under 24 years of age (no, we aren't speaking of the dinosaurs in Parliament and Assemblies). More than that, During this period, internet reach in India has grown phenomenally. From the internet being affordable only to more educated, affluent and successful people, we have reached a time of an internet capable computer becoming a routine utility while mobile phone is almost an appendage of college kids. And searches for education are sinking. And it isn't like this is about India, worldwide trends are sinking too, though the interest in education in India is sinking more dramatically in recent years (I'm just going by how the lines look). Now here is a graph with the trend for "jobs" compared with trends for "education".
And what are these people seeking about education and jobs?
Top related interests are govt jobs, jobs in india, government jobs, jobs in delhi, mba jobs, mba, ssc jobs, online jobs, bank jobs and jobs in bangalore. Interest is peaking in bank jobs, government jobs, ssc jobs and so on. Omitting the "MBA jobs", these are pretty much the same things our parents were searching for - government jobs symbolize long term guaranteed employment. SSC jobs are the same old story of "not educated enough". MBAs running out of jobs was near guaranteed in a slow economy, since their qualification is to manage others - something others do on their own when money is short.
Clearly, we have not been able to add new possibilities in education or jobs in over a couple of decades, only people cannot live without jobs! It is almost as if we, as a country have no idea what we want to do with education. On the other hand, we do still have a shortage of doctors, architects, engineers, internet security professionals and almost any other kind of job that actually involves skills of doing something real. Somewhere along the line, education has started inventing qualifications that are not useful, while not doing enough to expand those that are heavily needed.
While interest in education is going down, interest in jobs is rising. I am not interested in the why of it so much. There will be many reasons from policy to politics and "unforeseen global economic conditions" and most of them will be somewhat correct. The point is that in a country with a young population that is not adding many jobs, there is dropping interest in education.
To me this is screaming an alarm that people searching for jobs are increasingly not seeing education as very relevant. The cliche of better education and "picking up qualifications to improve job prospects" etc has run its course.
It is high time we reinvented education itself to become more relevant to needs in life. Teach for ability, not labels, subjects and exhibitionism of memorization of cliches.