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
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education system, our government schools where 4th-grade kids cannot read even 2nd-grade level, the cheating, the outdated curriculum, our underpaid teachers.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.