Education has been a problem in our country and lack of it has been blamed for all sorts of reasons for hundreds of years. Even Rabindranath Tagore wrote lengthy articles about how Indian education system needs to change. Funny thing is that from the colonial times, much hasn't. We have established IITs, IIMs, law schools and other institutions of excellence; students now routinely score 90% marks. But even they find it difficult to get into the colleges of their choice.
Most of us put the blame of poor quality of education on teachers. India needs more and better teachers. Until teachers effectively impart knowledge to students in their class, much of the initiatives undertaken will not fully achieve their target of improving education inequity in India. Part of the problem is absenteeism. According to a World Bank and Harvard University study, 1 out of 4 teachers in India are absent on any given day. There's also the issue of teacher effectiveness. It is high time to encourage a breed of superstar teachers. The internet has created this possibility. The performance of a teacher now need not be restricted to a small classroom. Now the performance of a teacher can be opened up for the world to see. The better teacher will be more popular, and acquire more students. That's the way of the future.
Having said that, increasing teacher effectiveness is only part of the problem; what needs to be the area of focus is the basics of our overall educational system. These include - teacher preparation, professional development of the existing seven million teachers and other functionaries, student assessment reform, improvements in curricular material and approaches and cultural changes that empower schools and teacher.
India can achieve its constitutional and societal goals only if our educational system is dramatically reformed to meet the mammoth task before us. And for this, we need committed and highly competent people and institutions. Developing such competence should be our number one priority.