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.


Ramakrishna Podila said...

1) How often do Indian kids read the science columns in 'good' national news papers? The importance and emphasis given to Science education is really low...even in the sense of funds. Many students are not even aware how many research centers are in India. I blame it both on the students as well as teachers!

Many students just do not bother to understand what they study neither do they want to learn. All that they want is a (goddamn) job!!!! People prefer to be sheep in the flock.

College administrators should select well qualified teachers. Beyond 12th std. only PhDs should teach. M.Tech or MS isn't enuf(Thats how rest of the world does!!!)

2) Quota system: I still do not understand the intentions of Dr. B. Ambedkar. I think he seriously made a BIG mistake. It takes a lot of time to change that. At least stop having reservations for those who have finished their masters and PhDs. It should not be reservation all the way!!!

3) For your information, all IITs have arts and humanities departments as an extra curriculum.They have even entrepreneurship cells. Students simply take it as a burden. You can even learn music in IITs as a course!!! Yes, full time arts education is looked forward to!

4) I agree; But marks is the only way you reflect your knowledge. It is not simply sufficient to have knowledge but u shld also be recognized as knowledgeable. Good thing is many companies have an extra test to filter ppl out. But again you should have enuf grades to get the call!!

One should bear in mind the importance as well as the limitation of the grades. Good grades need not necessarily reflect good knowledge.

I feel board exams should be there. But the syllabi and teaching methods need to improve.

Rom!o said...

~~I think your take on caste was a blotch, Dolly. You taken example of just 3 students around and assumed this as truth for the entire world around you. What examples should I give you to counter that? India's Best President the 'Missile Man', from minority section, Muthyala Raju Revu went to NIT on reservation and who is he now? I mean it's the same situation for many students, Dolly, be he/she a brahmin, reddy, kamma, kapu or madiga. Dont paint the caste color to it and degrade them, that's not fair. Confusion is the basic trait of every human being.

And the prospect of reservations should stand in my opinion. If I(a well educated person) myself am victimized on caste discrimination lines, I can imagine the worst situation in the villages. They have been discriminated 5000 years ago and even now! cmon, give them a break. To understand the real agony u hav to walk in the shoes of a lower caste man which is never gonna happen in ur life coz u aint 1. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar not only chaired the committee that framed the bulkiest Constitution inthe world for a diversified society of India but also did the right thing by introducing reservations. Every well educated knows the the importance of it thats the reason why no damn politician dares to touch the issue of reservations, not even JP. Mayb he will make it more conditional which is the obv choice yet not strong enof if we take the number of seats not being filled in the colls each year.
I agree with you, reservations must be abolished...only when the 5000 year old caste mindset is vaporized from the minds of all Indians. And when is that gonna happen?...I can only say perfection is a myth. A black man can become a president but to create an Indian society without a mind that discriminates, it is to us to imagine. And people can never comment and judge the decision as long as they dont walk in the shoes of a lower caste man.

~~It dont matter if u r from JNTU, OU, Vasavi or Vardhaman. Whats the point when a textile engineer works along side with a CS engineer(dats true, my frnds are examples). As long as we are not innovative and creative and look for a job which gives us nothng but a life with material security, it doesn't matter where we go, we all come under the blanket of mediocres. If you are an elite at mind and talent no matter where u come from u will shine in the real world. At least that’s what life(not much just 24yrs) has taught me lookin at the lives of several other people. I’l give u examples of such promising elites whom u n me know: Sameera, Sunder, GODA, U and ME(:P).

~~And yeah scrapping examinations is a good idea but not a novel one as I see it. Now the competition will b towards better grades; the pressures, tuitions and everything will spring back only taking a new avtar. You know the mindset of our people, don’t you? As long as the syllabi is not changed and the student not given wider choices the situation will be the same; same damn conventional parent mindset and same damn foolish students. I want the syllabus to be standardized on the lines of NCERT till 12th class. All corporate shit shud the abolished after 10th. If u luk at 11th, 12th syllabus u will know the diversity it gives the students to opt for either arts, social sciences or core sciences. Our intermediate is the worst.

As always a good post Dolly :) but a little provocative to me regarding caste ;) And your post wud have definitely brot a smile on my face if u had mentioned the real mind behind the mouth of Kapil Sibal. Prof Yash Pal and his committee's 15 year toil on the report. BTW he is a teacher ;)

Ramakrishna Podila said...

Well, for these many years of reservations how many made the right use of it? Number is still countable.

What do we mean by reserving by caste? Ambedkar simply copied the British constitution for 90%. He meant reservations for those who were backward (Financially!!!) But then financial backward and socially out cast were the same. Now no one is socially out cast nor or they looked down!! I think that was the main aim behind introducing reservations. Then why still hv them?

Rom!o said...

"Now no one is socially out cast nor or they looked down!" -- dats such a disdain. If you were right then we wudnt have had the incidents of Khairlanji, Orissa violence in recent times to name a few.

Hmm, mayb I shud hav put up a disclaimer saying that "u n me wudnt hav discriminated but that doesnt mean the world hasnt". And u r almost rite it has decreased but not quite enof.

And I also said later in the same paragraph that "Mayb..will make it more conditional" that includes the condition of financially backward people, I shud hav been more clear, my bad.

Hmm u were sayin the number was countable! True. Imagine if the present amount of reservation was absent. Even that "countable" number wudnt hav existed. Then there wudnt hav been that little amount of empowerment they owned till now.

Cmon Ram! "90% copied from Brits". That's harsh dude. True, ours is a copy cat Constitution not just from Brit but also frm US, Japan, SA, Irish, Weimar(Germany), Soviet, Canada, Aussie, French. Its a ransack and best features from all those, not taken directly but amended such that it suits our milieu.

thats not the end of it, there are other novel features which werent copied like election commision, upsc, finance commision, CAG etc. And our bulky book just wasnt enof to accommodate us so we hav few more like planning comm, national dev council, tribunals, the panchayati raj system etc etc...

Pardon for the little lecture above Ram. I just couldn't digest it when you remarked the toil of the drafting committee in such simple terms.

Anyways its good to have an argument with u mate :) No offense taken eh! Cheers ;)

dolphin said...

well, this is turning in to a very interesting discussion.

1. i doubt if children today have access to science magazines. all they care about these days is cartoon network. i believe they are not guided properly and they should personally take interest in building these activities. but at a tender age, i doubt how many would be ideal even in thoughts

2. its a catch22 situation with grades and job qualification!

3. yeah, i know about the entrepreneurship cell and I'm really impressed at the initiation of such organizations. more needs to be done in promoting entrepreneurship among Indian students as its potential is huge.


thanks for your observations priyakanth. i only made these observations at a micro level. may be i should have clarified that. anyway, that doesn't change my stand. our country is a democracy and we should gauge the effect of reservations by comparing the number of students who gained by reservations to the total number of students who were given quota seats.

we all should understand that two wrongs don't make a right. we should not extend reservations for oppressed just due to the discrimination against them 5000 years ago. how often can you notice discrimination against them these days?

you've stated at least two persons benefitted from reservations. wonderful, i applaud their effort. on the other hand, how many meritorious lost their chance due these two? i believe there must be at least ten. also, they've made big but it doesn't decimate the fact that the meritorious students who lost a chance because of them aren't talented. I'm questioning the existence of reservations in current form that is on the basis of social status rather than economic status. and, I'm not painting the caste color to this! this is a reality in our country and none can deny that caste system is responsible for reservations in the present form.

i stated my college name only to make the readers comfortable about the regional effect of reservations. no offense!

you've mentioned about the beauty of following the ncert syllabi up to 12th compared to the intermediate. even i agree to it, students lose their original identity in competing for admissions.

however, i acknowledge that I benefitted by able to mingle with them and understand their point of view during my education. may be this is the only silver lining i observed to the issue of reservations.

you mentioned 'the countable number of people benefited due to reservations'. again, i strongly believe that better merit students would have helped the situation.


credit to all the comments made by priyakanth and ram and to Prof Yashpal and 15 others for the report!

we know that reservations cannot be done with entirely in India. However, I feel that a student can benefit from reservations only once in life. by this i mean to say that, X may benefit admission in a college after 12th and not ever after. now X is not deprived of a chance and should work hard and make a place for himself. however, X should not come back after four years for a request to admit in to Masters degree on the basis of quota.

Ramakrishna Podila said...

It is fine. But the problem is that, you can not afford to have reservations everywhere. That is the biggest mistake of the bulky book! You can not simply choose a cardiologist a govt. hospital based on reservations right! Same thing goes with profs at IIT. I had a professor at IIT-Roorkee and he was so damn dumb and so many students have been suffering because of that single thing. I do not understnad/digest reservsation until the death bed!!

How correct is it to have 3 seats out of the 10 reserved for integrated PhD at IISc? I am not against reservation system but it should exist on a completely different platform. Where does merit go if we still continue do so?

Yes, we never have an independent thoughts.The thought process that went through was not channelized properly while the constitution was drafted. We did not have good enough statistics and enough socio-economic projections of the nation!! The stats as per 1941 and projections of 1951 were flawed big time.

The definitions of SC ST etc., while putting together the required numbers were vague!!!
Better strategies should have been adopted. Five year plans is the dumbest thing according to me. We need much more aggressive economy.

dolphin said...

I'm sure Dr.Ambedkar must have studied different approaches for the system of reservations. I believe it is not right to question the approach followed decades back when today's politicians take unfair advantage of the vision and hijack the main idea.

a lot remains to be answered even after sixty years of In'depedence'!