Kapil Sibal according to the media has created an educational revolution
Television Channels are falling one over another to hold high the educational revolution in the making that is going to change the fate of India forever.
Well. Taking a deep relook at the Indian educational system is good. It is a welcome move.
But to provide quick-fix solutions like eliminating exams, providing percentiles and grades are not going to help.
Currently the educational system is tweaked towards urban students in most boards except in Tamil Nadu where the educational system provides a fair chance to rural students too, because of removal of entrance tests. But then the quality of education of State Board in TamilNadu leaves a lot to be desired.
The changes suggested by Kapil Sibal can push more urbanization of education, as students from government colleges and rural areas would not face any competitive exams and would be made to face Common Entrance Exams suddenly.
And those urban training institutes which churn out students for Common Entrance Exams will flourish, while the average graded rural students, poor urban students and government college students who could not afford the tuition for Common Entrance Tests would languish behind.
Copying American and European model of education blindly without understanding the Indian scenario cannot be the way forward. We may need to replace the archaic system of education, no-doubt. It is not simply aping the western model.
So what can be done..?
First, the need for the examination needs to be understood.
Examinations serve the purpose of testing a particular standard of knowledge uniformly across a given set of people. They give an opportunity for the system to establish this uniformity of knowledge across multiple geographies and communities of students.
Establishing this uniformity of knowledge across geographies and multiple sections of people takes priority over even improving the quality of education. It is because once the uniformity is established through a system, the quality can be improved very easily all across.
As the society becomes more knowledge oriented, this testing is important at school and college levels. Today there is an awareness on School and Collegiate education to all. Hence if this testing is implemented at that level, it gives a huge opportunity to all sections of people to reach that level of knowledge and become part of knowledge society.
Let us say this testing is not done at that level, but let us say it is done at entrance level of higher education or at industry, then there would be institutes (which are already flourishing) which will focus on polishing people for this testing and such institutes will be more in urban areas and for those who can afford. Thus we will be placing competitive knowledge only for those who can afford and those who are in cities.
This is what is happening to IIT’s, AIEEE’s, PMPD’s etc. These entrance tests have almost become the privilege of the affordable class.
For those people residing in rural areas and those who are poor, the competitive knowledge mechanism would be absent and they would be pushed to second grade citizens.
Over a period such a system will devise two classes of citizens. One with high level of knowledge and another with low level of knowledge. We would have laid the foundation for a self-induced division of species inside homosapiens.
Hence the right mechanism is to have the testing of this knowledge through examinations at levels where it is available to all sections of people.
Stress of Knowledge: A neccessary evil
This is going to stress people. But then stress is the way of life in future. We have to find other mechanisms of de-stressing this availing of knowledge and not run away from it.
I suggest that instead of one examination at SSLC or HSC, we should have 4-5 examinations. Probably every quarter or every half-yearly right from ninth standard at board level all across the country.
The final HSC marks should be averaged across the performance of all examinations.
Such examinations need to be only for core subjects like Maths, Science, Social, economics, accountancy etc and associated subjects alone. Languages should be left to individual states.
Such a scheme would reward consistency and prepare students for the real world.
And most important there should be no other competitive entrance examination mechanism for entrance into higher educational institutes. The basic educational qualification alone should be sufficient and the marks obtained there should be used to select people for entrance to higher educational institutes.
Bring Industry into Higher Education
Number of colleges and universities for higher education need to be increased through more investments in this sector from public and private players.
But most important in this aspect is the quality of teaching. We need to move away from professional teachers teaching theory.
We need to bring in experienced industry professionals migrating into universities and teaching subjects at all levels and not require them to do Masters or Doctorates. Current crop of teachers at higher institutes have become mere Video Casette Players and have no idea of what they are teaching in real sense.
Such a move to enable industry professionals to teach will drastically enhance the faculty available for teaching. Probably there can be courses for interested industry professionals to equip themselves with teaching capabilities!
Thanks to Sibal for initiating a debate. But no that is not the way forward!