Restricting choices

CONFINED OPTIONS: Students will have to wait and watch for the decision that could impact their future. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

CONFINED OPTIONS: Students will have to wait and watch for the decision that could impact their future. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Today, all the fun of the festive season is far behind us. We find ourselves on the brink of the work season. Exams are round the corner. Teachers are stressing out. Parents are hyperventilating and we students are desperately trying to get down to the books.

‘Future' is now the catchword and “what do you want to do in college?” or “what are your plans?” are considered polite conversation.

With so many, many colleges around us offering a plentitude of courses, choosing your heart's calling is quite a task for us youngsters. Gone are the days when you could close your eyes, see yourself as an engineer and leave for college.

Today, you are faced with mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, electronics and communication engineering, biomedical engineering…

Streamlining admissions

But the choice is even tougher if you are looking to cross paths, stop being known as a “Science student” but instead, try becoming an “Arts person”. This is exactly what might not be possible very soon. Dr. G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor of Madras University, is looking to make some changes which may go a long way in impacting the lives of the students. If things go right for him, science students will always remain so and your college options will shrink rapidly. The reason? Apparently, there isn't as much demand for science courses anymore as other courses are seen as making students more employable.

Though nothing is yet on paper, even the slightest whisper is creating waves in the student community. How do students feel about this proposed plan? Is it good news? Or is this a doomsday prediction? Should it be lauded or avoided like the plague? How will this affect them? The mess just got messier.

Reactions were many, ranging from controlled awareness to full blown exasperation. Varsha Ramesh of VanaVani Matriculation Higher Secondary School, was simply flabbergasted. To her, such a decision meant ill effects throughout the social ladder.

Words and emotions hurled across with students quick to take sides on the issue. Even the Constitution was called upon as witness! As Shruti Kamath of St. John's, Besant Nagar, is not far behind. “Choices are meant to be given. Once they have been laid out for us, it is up to us to decide. No one can force us to do anything”

Calling in late

What may seem like a straight-forward decision on the part of the government isn't so for the students. While such a decision may be seen as simply one to promote science colleges, to the student community, it affects education, dreams, and even relationships.

As Andrew Philip of St. Bede's Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School elaborates, “Mistakes happen. Accidents happen. But you need a chance to rectify them. You may have taken science in secondary school and then realised you were wrong. But for a combination of time, effort and the value you attach to friends and peer pressure, you will not want to step back, lose a year and correct the mistake right then. For all those students, college is their carte blanche. It's not fair to take it away from them.”

A common phrase used in relation to the science stream is “broaden opportunities”. Used either dripping with sarcasm (as demonstrated by Prakrit Kamra of Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School) or genuinely, there is a large proportion of the student community who merely take science out of parental pressures to make their future rosy.

While Kamra is openly against the entire idea (“Hat's off to the policy” oozing sarcasm), not everyone is as opposed to it. Iha Diwan, class XII in APL Global School, has a very different take on this issue. “When arts and commerce students are not able to take science seats, then why should it be allowed vice versa?” she enthuses.

Sanjana James supports her stance. “This policy might encourage more efficient career counselling and individual development. In the long run, it might actually help our nation as a whole because everyone will be doing what he/she is good at!”

Not many takers

But a bird's eye view of the student community shows that Iha and Sanjana seem to be the black sheep of the crowd. As Ajay Ramesh of Chettinad Vidyashram, accurately sums up, “Creativity cannot be restricted to an age or a stream and the realisation of your calling can come anytime. You need the time and space to make the right decision.”

All in all, the proposed policy does not seem to have many proponents amongst the senior school students. Maybe they don't see the positives or maybe there aren't any. Only time will tell.

Yashasviniis a Std XI student of APL Global School.

“What about people who cannot afford the capitation fee for the medical/engineering colleges?”

Varsha Ramesh, XI,

VanaVani Matric. H.S.S“I took science only on the assumption I could switch to arts later”

Prarthana Shankar,

AMM Matriculation Higher

Secondary School “We live in a free country. I have the freedom of choice. No one can make the choice for me.”

Himabindu Poroori,

XI, Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 12:57:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/Restricting-choices/article16482467.ece