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Absent, sir

KRISHNA SWAMY A.
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Should attendance be an end in itself? No, if knowledge is the prime concern

Is being regular to class such a great thing as it is made out to be? There is no definite answer, with two views heard most often.

One is that recording attendance is a wasteful exercise. If the student passes all the evaluation criteria, he or she is eligible to pass the course, whether regular in attending class or not. Period.

The other view is that students are not the best judges of themselves. At least 25 per cent of them pass only because of being compelled to sit in the class. Therefore, for the greater good of society, attendance should be ensured.

The assumption behind the first view is that the student is mature enough to decide whether to attend the class or not. The other view counters it, saying that most students are not mature enough to decide things on their own and do not know the importance of attending classes and therefore, they should be compelled to do something that is good for them. In India, a majority of the policy-makers and the teachers subscribe to the second view.

“The student is not mature,” goes the argument in one case. When will he or she become mature? Will it ever happen? Will education ever make one mature? Is education intended to help one mature? At what stage of education will the assumption that students are not mature change? A puzzling experience recently made me ponder this topic. I was fascinated by a postgraduate course and wanted to join it. I went to the university and gave an application endorsed by the Principal of the college where I wanted to join. I knew that many of the seats in that course were vacant.

But the university did not accept the application as the deadline had expired. The admissions department said that if admission was granted, the candidate would not be able to fulfil the attendance requirements as the classes had already started. I could have applied earlier, but came to know about the course late, so the application became late.

That set me thinking. Are we rooted to the opinion that all courses have vocational value only? Are there no true knowledge-seekers? I just wanted to study the course. The certificate was not the issue, the learning was.

Is it not for the students to wake up and tell the authorities that they pursue a course by choice and in a quest for knowledge, at least at the postgraduate level, and not by the lure of the certificate? It is a shame on the students that their attitude has made the policy-makers think that there is no quest for knowledge anymore in society and that every course is vocational.

KRISHNA SWAMY A.

Co-founder

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