[Editorial Analysis] Encouraging young minds

Mains Paper: 2 | Education

Prelims level: Education ecosystem

Mains level:  Exploring scientific ideas is difficult in India’s education ecosystem.

Context

• The Indian education system hardly played any role in moulding the child prodigy and this was also rather the case with Manjul Bhargava (Fields medal 2014).

• Subhash Khot, who won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize in 2014, had more of an Indian education — a bachelor’s degree in computer science at IIT Bombay.

• The question, therefore, is, why has our education system not produced any Fields medallists, especially when there is no dearth of talent?

• The answer lies in the opportunities and training that these talents receive — or fail to receive rather the lack of these.

• India devoted to training students of mathematics and identifying and nurturing talent is the Mathematics Training and Talent Search, which was started 25 years ago,

• In 1993. There are also programmes that train students to compete in the Mathematics Olympiad.

• Mr. Khot is a two-time International Olympiad silver medallist.

Comparison between India and France

• France, a country with a population close to 6.5 crore, has about 3,000-4,000 scientists.

• It also boasts of 12 Fields medallists.

• This is comparable to the U.S., which has much more in terms of resources, according to Sinnou David, a mathematician and professor at Sorbonne University, France.

• He puts it down to the existence of schools like the École normale supérieure, in Paris, where a number of Fields medallists were trained.

• Of course, one cannot simply create such schools out of thin air.

• They must be nested in a balanced network of universities, teacher education systems, and most importantly, a solid base in school education.

Way forward

• This argument claiming that such honours are not what India needs now.

• It while top prizes are not themselves a solution to all problems that beset education in India,

• They remain a characteristic of a healthy educational ecosystem.

• Only such an ecosystem can create enough space for young minds to explore abstract mathematical and scientific ideas freely and in turn challenge the boundaries of existing knowledge.

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