Mathematics education in India

The whole idea of Science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking and  mathematics lies at its roots. It would be hard to find a better tool to  demonstrate  and understand the working of the scientific intellect other than mathematics. India with its strong mathematical tradition , maybe expected to produce excellence in learning mathematics. But such expectations are extravagant looking at the situation where India is grappling with problems of providing quality education , poverty and other ineluctable social problems. Yet, despite adversity,  India has managed to produce quite a few excellent mathematicians in recent times.

The landscape of mathematical education in India is still not as per anticipation and calls for  more broad vision on spreading awareness about  bright scope in learning mathematics and encompass more students in the subject. We want every child to learn and appraise the beauty of mathematics. But achieving such a goal at a large scale is itself a huge challenge to educators in the country. Before we try to analyse and point out ways to promote mathematics as a more aspired subject , we must understand why  is it indispensable to study  mathematics. Why should we study mathematics?

Mathematics is not just playing with numbers its a skill to make sense of things around us. Its an intellectual endeavor and a mode of thinking about   different patterns , sequences , observations of  various objects and  phenomenon occurring around us. Its not as abstract as it seems to be , its just an abstract representation of real life events. Today we are in a computer dominated   world with world – wide communication and a global economy , and in such a world we need people who are prepared to  absorb new ideas , perceive patterns and solve unconventional problems. Mathematics is the key to opportunities for  these jobs. Mathematical Sciences have moved from being a requirement only for scientist and researchers to an essential ingredient in the education of every  Indian.

Students must recognize the varied role played by mathematics in society from accounting and finance to scientific research. Their experiences in school learning of mathematics must make them believe that mathematics has value , and will inspire them to take up the subject in details in their undergraduate and graduate level. The students must develop the informed  skepticism , sharp insight and a habit of mind that clarify complex situations. Students must be able to use their mathematical knowledge to solve real life problems.  The ability of individuals to cope with the mathematical demands of everyday life–as employees, as parents, and as citizens–depends on the attitudes toward mathematics conveyed by school experiences.

As per most Indian scholars , the central challenge of Indian mathematical education is dealing with quantity , quality and equality. The education sector at the state level is faced by problems of shortage of resources. The number of single classroom schools is as high as 38% in even large and well developed states like Andhra Pradesh. Such extreme shortage of resources presents a tremendous quality constraint. Even worse is the lack of qualified and committed teachers for better  mathematical education . Content knowledge in mathematics is crucial for mathematics education and can not be compromised. However dreadful statistics reveal that nearly 43%  of Indian teachers in elementary education are under qualified or do not possess a college degree, let alone in mathematics, generating a greater hurdle in providing  quality education in mathematics. Mathematics being a compulsory subject at the primary and secondary level of  schooling , every child deserves quality mathematical education so that they desire to take up mathematics as a subject of interest in future undergraduate  study.  Talking about Undergraduate study in mathematics  in India , there are about 400 Universities and around 18000 colleges offering undergraduate courses in mathematics with a work force of about 30,000 mathematics professors . But the main issue of concern is the lack of well qualified and motivated faculty thanks to the growing trend of bright and meritorious students opting mostly for jobs in highly paid corporate sector instead of  a teaching profession which in many instances is low paid. Although reputed institutions manage to provide students with quality learning environment for mathematical study and research , the newly established and less funded institutes and colleges fail in this aspect due to the shortage of resources and a better qualified work force.

There exists a very deep disconnect between degree and knowledge which generates a extremely vast challenge to the education system ‘s aim to provide holistic education. In spite of  great deal of efforts by the National Board of Higher Mathematics to strengthen tertiary mathematics , most faculty members are unaware of the good use of  IT , programming and other latest mathematical software .

Students seldom aspire for a Bachelor or Masters degree in Mathematics and the prime reason for such an opinion is the uncertainty and little knowledge about the career opportunities in the field of mathematics. The situation in general is that , mostly those students take up a pure  mathematical science course as a last resort, who fail to get enrolled in some kind of professional courses which often ensure  high paid jobs . But in reality we expect the situation to be opposite , those students with a bright academic record and passionate about studying mathematics in details must choose it as a career. If sought upon with deep interest and passion , mathematics can indeed provide you with satisfying career options. Besides an academic profession , a well trained mathematician is always in demand in hardcore research establishments like  Indian Space Research Organisation ( ISRO) , Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), National Aeronautics Limited (NAL). Today mathematician studying cryptology which is sophisticated mathematics dealing with systems ensuring safety of our credit card transactions is highly sought after in institutions dealing with security issues like the  Society for Electronic Transactions and Security  (SETS). Even multinational software and IT companies appoint trained and skilled mathematicians in their research branches with a handsome pay package. Thus it can be clearly witnessed that mathematics has ample career scope outside the academic world.

Now to summarize the whole scenario we can say that the challenge of providing quality mathematical education and inspiring future generations to opt for the subject as a satisfying career option  is immense . But recent reforms and developments in study of mathematical sciences provide a positive hope in transforming India into a mathematical research giant and broaden our horizons in the field of mathematics.

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