Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Education Reforms

Board exams - To write or not to?
Medicine/Law/Arts - Should IITs have them or not?

The debate is finally on. Does modern India need educational reforms? I strongly believe so. we should get away from the regular systematized educational system which brings great pressure on students and parents. I seriously doubt if this system imparts any real knowledge in students. All the time, teachers focus on building the cramming abilities of students.

It is good to have an open-minded Kapil Sibal at the helm rather than an opportunist who seizes to capitalize the situation by dividing the society on the basis of reservations, Arjun Singh. It should be obvious to those who believe in development that reservations only divide the society forget unifying or up-bringing the deprived. What we all need today is a meritocracy, a society where studious can excel. Are we really marching towards it? We should hold no qualms in denying this.

The Perspective - Reservations

Reservations must have helped some of us to settle in life. But, at what cost? At the cost of fellow merit students? Considering the situation in my engineering at Vasavi college of engineering, there must have been at least three students who weren't eligible to get an admission but thanks to reservations, they found their way. It was in 2004. After the completion of their engineering in 2008, how many of them were ready for life? I believe none of them managed to make a mark in their respective lives. I'm not loathing the fact that I'm not given an quota seat in the admissions but our leaders and people should retrospect the effect of reservations on common man. I whole-heartedly know that our politicians can never get rid of quota system unless the prime minister is Jayaprakash Narayan. But my anguish doesn't die. Coming back to the students who made in to the college through quota system, they couldn't get a life after four years and a year after the graduation, they are still confused about their future. It is a sad story that this had to end it this way for now. They have been empowered, given admissions, taught to face the competition but they faltered in the end. Why is this happening? Is it the quality of teachers? or the quality of students? where does the fault lie?

Opening IITs to Medicine, Law, Arts

It is a welcome proposal by the union minister. I personally know how students develop after making it to IIT. It is the facilities that drive students to study and perform well. I strongly believe that a maintaining a uniform educational structure such as IITs in engineering would definitely help medicine, arts and law students. This will improve the quality of arts and law education in India and would prompt the parents to consider these areas as career options. I personally told few students (must be 18 years) to consider arts and other career options when they were considering to join engineering after EAMCET. Nobody really bothered to consider by observations. We all should acknowledge that

To know the road, ask those coming back - Chinese proverb

In the end, they too joined the flock by entering the world of BTech education. I'm not undermining the value of the degree here but I'm appalled at the decision of the parents to force their children in to engineering. When I talked to them, all they said was engineering is best for my boy, he will get some job in software company and draw good salary. Are we so obsessed with the software industry? We all know how many loathe that job every day (of course it is another matter that they would consider themselves fit only for a manager position or a prime minister). The process not goal which is THE important thing. It must be true that we get what we deserve. Why are arts and literature not considered as career options? How many of us are in research field? Personally, I believe the best work in this world is to teach students. But we often listen comments like 'Is he working as a lecturer? damn him, how mean'. Damn you sucker. Why is a teacher work so mean compared to a software job? Our relatives lose no time in commenting ha, he is earning so less! so sad, look my son is minting dollars in US. Really? It is time for all of us to introspect.

Board Examinations

I have my doubts about scrapping the board examinations. It is to be seen how practical and logical will this move be. However I believe that the current system of cramming should be done away with. In my childhood people asked me if I was first in the class. This registered in my sub-conscious mind that I should stand first in the class in my childhood. It was not until my eighth standard that I realized only knowledge matters not the ranks (however, I never lost in touch with the ranks :P but was sure that ranks don't matter much). Unfortunately, there are people who do not realize the importance of knowledge compared to the grades. People maintain a GPA of over 3.4 or 3.2 but fail to understand that there is a directory that stores temporary files in a computer. The student I'm speaking about is currently doing his Masters in Computer Science. May God help computer science field! Not to forget the fact that he maintained almost 80% in computer science of engineering. Would you rate this child as an illiterate? or an educated illiterate? I'm sure that there are thousands of students who are in this situation.

We should not forget that unless we get our fundamentals right (educating children in a value based system), there will be loads of people asking 'do we actually have directories storing temporary files in a computer?'.

Edited on 6th July, 2009

With references to Yashpal Committee report here, I hope you would be inclined to find the Report on Higher Education linked at Academics India (pdf).

Edited on 21st July, 2009

Watch the Barkha Dutt show on 'One India - One Board' dealing with the proposed educational reforms. Watch leading educationalists and students express their views.