Over the past century, the human race has witnessed mind-blowing technological advancement. The thirst for knowledge has created an insatiable urge to invent, innovate and experiment. Humanity’s quest in recent times is for the creation of a robot with a mind.
Sadly, though, this fascination is creeping into all walks of life. To take the example of education, from the mills of our institutions, are we really nurturing the “thinking mind” or merely creating more “bricks in the wall”?
What is expected of an Indian student today? Top companies expect him/her to be educated from a reputed university, preferably the top university. In order to study in a prestigious university one is required to pass a set of exams or ‘aptitude tests’ like ‘AIEEE, IIT-JEE and CLAT — that too with flying colours.
Is it fair to assess whether a student deserves entry into a top university based on his/her aptitude test score? Random sampling passes off as Quality Control for products from a factory but students are not mere products. It is harsh that the system judges them uniformly when each one’s circumstances are vastly different. It is practical to have a yardstick for measuring learning, but is our yardstick the right one?
Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees the right to equality and by that it guarantees a level-playing field for all. The state shall not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
This fundamental right seems to have been violated here. Let us assume that a good and consistent student is ill on the day of a crucial exam, or one set of exams that counts. A disadvantage that annuls all that he has achieved throughout his academic career. It will count for nothing unless he performs in his board or entrance exam. This system seems unfair to this less fortunate boy.
Another aspect which needs reviewing is the idea of exam itself. A person who knows how to express himself best on paper need not be the best student. It is possible that students who understand may not know how to express themselves simply because one’s ability to express need not be equal to one’s ability to comprehend. What if Karl Marx was not good at expressing his ideas on paper? Would that mean that he was not smart?
The third point is what actually happens — whether we receive ‘education’ or a prescription. The ‘education’ we receive today begins with educational boards compiling a syllabus according to which books are printed and the questions asked in an exam are strictly in accordance with ‘prescribed’ syllabus and questions are drawn from a question bank. Education does not merely mean learning new facts or theories. The information along with the insight gained comprises education.
Today, teachers are so worn out by ‘covering the syllabus’ that we are provided with information but without insight.
We need to ponder over the question whether our educational system ends up as a robot-producing machine. Moreover, is it right to measure success and achievement by one yardstick alone? Should we not have a variety of tools to evaluate our students? After all, our legislation and policies take into consideration the diversity present in our country. This should be extended to the education system, the diversity of talents should be acknowledged.
(The writer is a second-year law student at Sastra University, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.)