I remember my teenage years – it was spent cramming up textbooks and spending sleepless nights. I sacrificed play, entertainment, social outings – virtually everything to score some extra marks in exams. Today a decade after I finished my schooling, nothing has changed. Kids, teenagers – everyone who is in the proper formal education system is either being pulled or pushed to study more and more – just to score some additional marks.

The situation is worse for students in 10th, 11th & 12th classes. They just keep shuffling between either the demands of their school or the pressure from their coaching institutes. Added to that is the peer pressure, coercing from parents & the fear of failure.

And where does all that lead to? Most end up joining an engineering college and a few end up joining medical colleges. And after all this, 90% end up being unemployable. The reasons for unemployability are many but let’s take a moment to think – does it require us to go through the grind of 16 years in academia to do what we are doing today? Do most of us require the knowledge of refraction or the understanding of organic bonds or the knowledge of tricks to solve the corner cases of differential calculus – in doing our regular jobs?

With technology transforming the world in myriad ways, the need to reproduce information with memory is not relevant anymore. All factual information is available with a single touch or even voice based search. The pace of change in today’s industries and technology is increasing with every passing day. When we come out of the formal education system 20 years after we had entered it – the whole world just changed in those two decades and most of what we would have studied is not relevant anymore. So as an employer what then is really important to me in the candidate is their ability to learn, unlearn and learn again. In current scheme of things for most of the jobs, a candidate just needs the following basic skills – intelligence, digital literacy and soft skills (but we call the soft skills as core skills as these are core to every human irrespective of the job/function). And do we really require 16 years of education system to pick these set of skills? Hence what I am proposing is that – what really matters is the skills and not a formal education.

The question therefore I ask is that – Is sacrificing childhood and stressing out teenage years’ worth the effort? Can’t these formative years be used to pick different life skills and direct (functional/technical) skills worth the kid’s interest and perhaps we could have had a much more employable person and without a 16 year formal education grind.

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