Thursday, June 25, 2009

Need for a Change!!!

I was going through the news headlines today where I got this interesting headline about the Union HRD ministry thinking of some innovative ways to bring a reform in the present day education system of our country. Whether its simply a crap or a real innovation, only time can tell; but this news provoked me to think something about our education system of which we are a part of and which we always keep condemning.
Now, where from this system actually came and when? Was it right from the times of our grandfathers or their fathers or is it an evolution of a much better (or worse) system that existed sometime in the past? Recalling a short story 'बरे भाई साहब' by Munshi Premchand that I (and probably many of us Indians) read in our coursebook of std 5th or 6th, I think, this examination-ruined education system prevailed in the society from the very beginning. This story was about an elder brother's pity with the exams and his scolding of his younger brother for not giving much attention to studies despite which he himself kept on failing in the exams as opposed to his brother who always stood first in his class. The story dates back to the early 20th century and shows the fear and dread of exams and studies even at that time. So, certainly, a torturous sort of an education system was there from very early a time. But, has the system been the same or has it evolved? If evolved, then either positively or negatively?
I remember stories being told to us about our grandfathers who didn't even bother to see their results of intermediate exams or graduation exams for the number of students passed in those exams was so less that the whole district knew the names of such students. Then came the time when a larger number of students started passing although mostly with second or third devision. I know my father getting something around 70% marks (or even less, certainly, not more) and securing a respectable position in the state matric board examination (he was in 40s in the rank list of whole Bihar state). My brother, 15 years ago, did his matriculaton and got 80% marks but was not even the topper of his school. I, myself got 93% marks in the matric exam 6 yrs ago and was along with 11 other students of only my section to get over 90% marks that too in a school where 9 or 10 such sections existed. One can easily estimate my rank in the school. Only 6 yrs since, people are now getting 96, 97 or even 98% of marks in the same exam conducted by the same board. Yes, the system has certainly evolved too much and with this trend of increasing marks and increasing number of students getting such marks, we can say, it is a positive evolution. But, is it so?
Going back to the time of my grandfathers or even till my father's, the basic aim of education was something different. They got education because they had to acquire knowledge, knowledge about the numbers, knowledge about science, our past, our present or even our future. Then, the time came when the students were told that knowledge is nothing but what is written in the textbooks and we students started slurping and swallowing everything written in books, to a height where we could learn by heart even a mathematical equation or a numerical problem of mechanics. Aquiring knowledge is not even a tertiary aim for present days students. They usually say, "Yaar, knowledge can be gained even later first be able to score good marks in the exam". When was the time this change actually occured and what brought them? We need nothing to answer this question but only a little bit of introspection inside our social build-up. It is a gradual process that got the education system to such a point and it all started with the growth of the race to become superior and for that establishment of examination and marks obtained in them as standards of superiority.
Certainly, we do need a change in our present day education system but is this the only thing we should be changing? Do we have nothing to do with our thinking?
We certainly have. We ceratinly have a need for a change.................a change in our thinking, our views and most of all ourselves.


Anamay said...

Interestingly, now the most basic method of evaluation is being rethought and debated. Taking into account the mad race for marks overshadowing sound learning, this rethinking seems to be justified. But the outcome is still unpredictable.

You pointed out quite correctly that change is not only required in the system but various other factors like our thinking, our attitude etc.

Aashu said...

@Anamay: Indeed the outcome of any change is highly unpredictable but one has to say that its high time, it has to come now.........
Anyways, I would like you to know that this debate over the prevailing education system is not a new one. Gandhiji had always raised the question of this examination-based learning process and in his Tolstoy farm, there was no such system.....

Ankita Pandey said...

Hi Ashu,
Good blog. Share your thoughts.