Our kids don’t deserve this admissions circus

Our kids don’t deserve this admissions circus

By Chandni Ahlawat... | 16 July, 2016
Queue outside the DU admissions office.

Let me start with a confession. I graduated from college in 1993: from Miranda House, Delhi University. But when I see the cutoffs today, I realise that 20 years back, I would have got admission in none of the “top” colleges of today. It’s a thought that strikes many of my friends and acquaintances as well, year after year.

So I ran a small survey among my friends (incidentally all from small town, middle-class service families) to find out whether our 12th marks mattered, whether the college we went to affected where we landed up , and whether we were satisfied with our work lives today. All five of my friends did not back then have the percentages required today to get admission in our alma mater. All five today are doing very fulfilling work, are satisfied with their remuneration, and by and large, besides small niggles that accompany personal and professional lives, have “settled” according to conventional Indian standards of our generation.

What is striking is that our 12th marks were averagely good, we may not have got a 96% but we went to a decent college and that helped to open up further opportunities. Of course all of us went ahead and did higher studies before we started our professional lives but undergraduate college was the
first step.

I ran a small survey among my friends to find out whether our 12th marks mattered, whether the college we went to affected where we landed up, and whether we were satisfied with our work lives today. All five of my friends did not back then have the percentages required today to get admission in our alma mater. All five today are doing very fulfilling work.

This is alas no longer possible. Somewhere along the way our government and we as a country  convinced ourselves that our kids need to be educated for a better future but did not factor in that this would spurt on millions of students (and parents) with aspirations looking for good education. We also fostered a system focused on marks, so that with whatever means a cent percent has always to be attempted. The example of this is the recent Bihar topper scam for which I do not by the way blame the students but our utterly crappy system. We have created a desperate situation where there are more students than higher education institutes and far too less quality ones.

Every year reams of words are written about our skewed education system, our government schools where 4th-grade kids cannot read even 2nd-grade level, the cheating, the outdated curriculum, our underpaid teachers. But besides platitudes — like the ones in the papers today where the new HRD Minister has assured everyone that “education is a national mission to take the country ahead” — frankly I don’t see any action. So, the respected new HRD Minister: attend all seminars, meet people with all ideologies but do something. It’s a heartfelt plea from a parent. Please focus on quality of curriculum, quality of educators, number of schools and colleges and take the focus away from marks putting the focus back firmly on learning. Because frankly if my kids score a 90%, are good at extracurricular activities, play sport and are well-rounded individuals, I do not have the courage to flay them and say with all honesty that you are a bad student.

It may take decades to correct the problems but strategic interventions even now will start making the difference and I am confident taxpaying citizens of this country will back me up. Spend our money on what matters — our children and our youth. We are waiting.

There are 9 Comments

Very well put. The future generations face a scary scenario where they focus on marks and find that in the long run irrelevant. Also when we focus on the correct answer we teach them to scared of alternatives that are the key stone of innovation.

Very well timed and well written article! As a middle aged man when I reflect at my life and observe my classmates as to how their lives took shape - exam scores, name of the institutes, even degrees don't matter in the long run. It is their maturity to handle themselves, insightfulness and above all social skills that set some apart. No kid is a percentile, no graduate is a college stamp! You appropriately point out that it needs overhauling of the education system, radical change in the societal thought process that will see our future generation much more than just their test scores.

Top marks are not everything. Education should be all round decelopment - sports, culture, extra curricular. Unfortunately, with the obsession over marks in our coutry, the development is stilted. I know people who had average marks in school but are doing brilliantly well today. "You cannot judge a fish by it's ability to climb" and you cannot judge every student by their marks.

My daughter got 92% this year in her 12th and forget getting eco or bcom hons in any of the 70 du colleges . She has joined amity now . How painfull it is to see ur child go through all this and i have no answers for her when she sadly tells her younger sister that see getting marks make bo sense , even my 70% wala friend is also in amity with me . But every year this debate is picked up but it end as soon as july ends . We really need to think about our children and need to build pressure on the new education minister to give us some sollution on this . Make it that big that it becomes a party of the party's agenda for elections

Right on. Too much focus on just cramming and regurgitating the answers solely for the purpose of scoring higher marks leads to one dimensional person who starts associating his/her self-worth with their marks. We need to teach kids to study for the purpose of learning and be innovative and develop entrepreneur skills and derive their self-confidence from being good human beings.

Wow! the cut-offs are higher each year I hear. The article resonates what I often think when I hear such stories. Imagine what the kids go through and the tremendous amount of pressure that is put on them. I have been living in Canada for the past 18 yrs and cannot help compare the two education systems as my daughter goes through high school. The difference is huge! I myseld did a Master's degree in India before I came here and another one here in Canada. I did not expect the huge difference between the two system's of education. I hope one day, kids will be allowed to be kids and have fun in their teenage years rather be cramming for the boards. Good article Chandini! you were always good!

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