October 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
India’s education system needs to wake up and say hi to the 21st century. While the rest of the world surges ahead, India clutches on to its safety blanket of “tradition”. Well, here’s an idea, instead of bringing about radical (almost desperate) changes such as the CCE, why not see what the students have to say?
I speak from personal experience and this is not a frustrated rant. My CCE days are over, but I can still remember how hard it was. In my opinion, and to be honest, in the opinion of everyone I know, CCE has done very little if anything, in reducing the burden on a child. Let’s be honest, just because there is a more lax grading system, it does not mean that students are free from the expectation to do well. I honestly don’t see how the pressure of getting a perfect 10 cgpa in grade 10, is in any way better than that of getting above 90% marks. Looking at it objectively, it seems to me that CCE has added the pressures of extra curricular activities while doing little to alleviate that of academics. Of course I’ll admit that to students who are not all that academically oriented this may be an advantage, but to what degree? and more importantly, to what end? So the students pass 10th grade, and then what? They aren’t offered the same bonus in higher grades or in colleges and universities (in India).
There is an abundance of interviews on the internet, that quote students saying that they feel like they are being watched all the time. They are not able to be free and let their guard down for fear of being marked negatively. And I agree. I went through the exact same thing. And then there was the endless paper cutting and copy pasting articles off of Wikipedia for school projects. So is this supposed to be CCE teaching us the lost skill of cutting and sticking? Tell me this, if you are incorporating so many, many new features and activities, while not reducing the academic syllabus, what exactly are you trying to achieve? Frankly, it seems to me that CCE was a well meaning attempt at modernizing the education system, but due to the serious dearth of foresight and planning on the part of the education council, it has been a huge disappointment. Don’t be fooled by what you hear of in the news, if you want the real picture, talk to the students and teachers. 95% of them will tell you the exact same thing I did. What I don’t get is how the education council can be so blind? Aren’t they supposed to be the smart insightful ones?
Moving on to Senior Secondary education in India, what infuriates me the most, is the meek accepting attitude that Indians have adopted to it’s flaws. It is no secret that grade 11 and 12 (particularly for students in the science stream) is a nightmare. (And to all you geniuses out there, who think grade 11-12 is a breeze, forgive me, but i speak on behalf of regular students.) Consider this, right up until grade 10, CBSE students learn two to three new concepts every year. And then grade 11 and 12 comes upon them, where they find themselves dealing with 10 new concepts every month. What I ask, is the logic behind this? Do students cross some magic line from grade 10 to grade 11, that makes them suddenly,500 times more smart? Or is the year made 5 times its usual length for 11th and 12th graders? This is widely known and sadly, accepted. I know Indian students have been branded “smart” and have a worldwide reputation for doing well and making things happen. But what percent of them? With India’s huge population, even if 50,000 children go on to become successful, it is an almost insignificant fraction of the whole. What about the rest of the kids? Do they not matter? Even if we choose to ignore the vast disparities is success rates, can we ignore the the ordeal that the students face? Especially those students who have their decisions dictated to them. Every family needs a doctor or an engineer or a banker. Painters, writers, singers… disgrace upon the family. India has one of the highest student suicide rates in the world. Anyone with a shred of sense can correlate this to the stress the majority of the students face. No living creature in God’s earth likes to be trapped. So when these students feel like their very lives are trapping them in, is suicide really an unthinkable option to them? Is it really okay for so many children to take their lives, out of frustration, as long as there are a few others who make it big?
And then there’s the question that everybody asks but nobody answers, is Indian education efficient? To the best of my knowledge, rote learning is the accepted norm in Indian schools. Unless a student has the good fortune of being taught by a teacher (rare occurrence, might I add) who believes in imparting actual knowledge of the subject rather than “how to get more marks”. Universities and colleges in India are no better. The practical edge to knowledge is almost non existent. A student will be able to tell you everything about a topic without having the slightest clue as to what it is. Is this knowledge? Is this what education is? Some people (narcissists or nationalists, call them what you will) will indignantly defend their beloved country that can do no wrong, and say that Indians are the ones who do the actual grit work of all major companies. And they are absolutely right. But here’s my question, why are they doing all the grit work? Why aren’t they on top? If they really are that smart, that qualified, why are there so few Indians who make a name? Why do most of the contracts go to China and Japan, not to India? Why is India so far behind in everything? I think there is one answer to all of this. The root cause is education.
The very admission process system of Indian Universities will get across my point. Here’s something a lot of people might not know. For all the noise that’s being made about “all rounded education” in India, Indian Universities do not look into extra curricular activities. The only criteria (science universities in particular) look ONLY at your grades. So it doesn’t matter that you were the president of your school’s debate team and started a volunteering community for poor children. Colleges just don’t care. Which is why, these universities produce know-it-all graduates, not smart or knowledgeable graduates (not generalizing, but speaking for the majority).
I am aware that there really is no other path for Indian teachers and professors to take, because the Indian curriculum and system is such that it pushes them into a corner. I know absolutely well that the teachers are just trying to do the best for the students. I do not blame them, but the system. Agreed, every system has it’s flaws. But shouldn’t we at least try to fix these flaws? If not to improve the quality of education, then to save the thousands of lives that are lost to suicide? What do we want students to get out of their education- marks or an actual education?
I won’t say nobody has done anything about this. There is an ever increasing number of movies decrying the Indian education system (who didn’t love “3 Idiots” ? :’) ) and more and more people are joining the cause to bring about a change. News channels, newspapers, protests have all volleying for this cause. Maybe if there wasn’t so much corruption a lot of the education reforms might have had some real impact… but what you gonna do, it is what it is. I just hope for the sake of the future of India and also for that of it’s youth, things will change for the better and change soon.