time ‘spent’ on education

This is part #5 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series; pointers to the previous posts are given at the bottom of this post.

Let us do a little bit of a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation.

Let us assume that the average longevity of a human being in India is 65, which is actually a shortivity, given the unhealthy food practices of the majority of our population – what with the happy and generous rationing of ‘polished white’ rice (read: sugar problems), ‘refined’ oils (read: more cholestrol without vitamins/minerals), HighYieldVariety wheat (read: pesticides, fungicides, weedicides) and ‘white’ sugar (read: pure poison) all over India, thanks to the illustrious public distribution system, a legacy of the British rape of India. 

But, my diatribe is actually about education, so back to the topic… 

Of the 24 hours available per day, we do the following:

  • Circa 9 hours on sleep
  • Circa 3 hours on ablutions, eating, cooking-cleaning (strictly reserved for females), entertainment, sports (strictly reserved for males & exclusively spent on training our fingers on various keyboards, remote controls, steering wheels, Sony PSPs, cellphones)
  • Circa 2 hours on commute to wherever the hell, and back 

This compute leaves on an average, about 10 hours per day, to everyone of us, to lead our lives, derive some meaning etc. But we choose to spend close to 8-10 hours (in our adult lives) on the beasts called ‘work.’ – presumably to make ‘both ends meet’ or to ‘make a living’ or one of such thingies. Most of us even pretend to enjoy the ‘work’ that we would otherwise endlessly gripe about with our close friends and hapless spouses… 

So, actually most of us don’t live at all. May be, except on weekends, which if we live in Bangalore, happily spend hanging around Brigade road or on Commercial Street or in a neon lit mall or in a multiplex – if at all we call these things life.

Aha, but then, I must NOT forget the stranger who keeps tabs on & ogles at us right in our dying rooms –  TV! 

Give us our daily dread. Amen. 

If this is a typical pattern with most of us, then, I would say that, it is high time we became manure and fed the microbes.  Thankfully some of us are not ready for it, yet – but then… 

What about the children then? They don’t have these ‘work’ or ‘profession’ or whatever, at least. THEY should be enjoying THEIR lives, yeah?? 

Now comes the compute for the children who go to school:

No of days in an year:                                                     365     

Less: Saturdays/Sundays                                              104     

Less 2.5 months of various holidays

@20 days per month                                                        50       

Days in school                                                                    211 (approximate, of course) 


Age band (in years) of Children / adolescents / adults

Years spent

Hours per day spent in school

Days in school per year

No of hours ‘spent’ in school

2.5 – 5





6 to 15





16 & 17





18 – 20






 I have assumed that children begin schooling at two-and-a-half years of age and keep ‘studying till their twentieth year at least. In many cases in reality, many young adults keep ‘studying’ till they are 25 or so…

Total no of hours ‘spent’ in school


Total no of calendar years on ‘education’ in school/college – till 20 years of age, say



This 3.10 years means days & nights full of study and study… and it should not be mistaken with a normal year.


Years spent

Hours per day spent in homework / tuitions

Days in these activities per year

No of hours ‘spent’ in these ‘out of school’ activites

Now add the ‘homework’





Add: ‘tuitions’







Grand’ total hours on ‘education’ via homework/tuitions      


Grand’ total years on ‘education’ via homework/tuitions      




Great grand no of years spent, with a bunch of certificates to prove it, at the end of this ‘education’…      


This, in real terms will workout to, about…      



The children (at least, most of them) spend a significant part of their impressionable years in things that provide them with an illusion of being ‘educated.’

In the first twenty years of their lives, they spend more than 40% of their time in actitivties that are suppose to be providing them with ‘education’ and ‘life skills’…

Why do we do this? If we pause (don’t you ask for a remote ccntrol…) to think for a moment, it would be obvious that children also lead exciting lives (!) like the rest of us. They too don’t live their lives, poor things. But we should understand that we are training them for becoming like what we wanted to become in our youth, a couple of decades down their line. 

After all these years of grueling ‘education’ one would think that all these ‘products’ of the education mills would be able at least to do things like, hold your breath:

  • identify the stars/planets in the night sky or
  • locate the edible plants in their own backyards or
  • apply whatever things that they ‘learnt’ in their ‘studies’ in real life or
  • … even cook a decent meal…
  • be happy and peaceful??

No, Nyet, Nada, Ayyo, illey saar! 

And yeah! A few years back, I went to a ‘con’sultancy firm’s office in Whitefield (a suburb of Bangalore, housing gargantuan and soulless buildings and (mostly of course) IT companies) to visit an old classmate of mine – and a few of his friends; eventually, we started talking about the elite school we went to etc etc. And, one of the guys was truly a believer in the idea that the guys who went to our school were SUPREME and of course God’s own gift to mankind and all that… And the fundamentals (‘fundas’) that they have etc, and of course they are brainy. To be honest, this guy was ‘academically’ good during those wasted days of my youth, certainly better than mine – essentially an acadummy

I was endlessly peeved and I asked him Do you remember Eigen values and Eigen vectors that we studied and how useful they are to our practical  lives. He was flummoxed for a second, and said Of course, I don’t, but not all things were useful to study, I got good grades in my math courses but where do we even use Eigen vectors, huh? Again I asked him Do you ever help in the kitchen by ‘rolling’ chappathis/rotis or even pack food, harnessing the lunch_packets with elastic rubber bands. He said No and asked What the f**k is the connection? 

I didn’t say what the connection was, and controlled my temper. 

The thing is that ‘brand’ recall is a great camouflage that helps a lot in covering up; in a world that is brand/stereotype oriented, we get only cardboard cutouts. A sad state indeed. 

It is another matter that this chap is working in the ‘States’ with a 5 figure dollar salary (as per his father) and visits his Bangalore based parents 4 times an year, on office ‘account’ or ‘expense.’ 

If this is the state of education and our ‘educated’ elite, who are seen to be successful and the vanguard, then why even bother to ‘educate’ our children? 

I suspect that the reason is, actually we want our children to be like us, oh what a noble & paramount objective to shoot for, my eyes are filled with tears now… and at best we may wish for – them leading cushier lives than us, but doing as less ‘work’ as possible and doing things that we wanted to do, once upon a time. Ta da

I have a reasonable (read: ‘brand’) academic background, plodded thru some 16 bloody years of ‘education’ and sometimes I feel whatever the heaven, that I have to show for it!

But then, education systems are not all that bleak… There are ways and ways and positive things…

(continued in the next installment #6)

All parts of the series, uptil the current one are here: FAQs on ‘education’

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