An eye opening account of our schooling system today

At the end of every board examination, while there is a lot of chest beating about the results, has anyone taken a microscope to the entire situation? What are we celebrating? What are we producing? Regurgitation machines or intellectual thought leaders who can think and rationalise?



It is once again the season of board examinations. Parents running at the last moment to secure the best notes, nutritional tips or any other tip that may further their chances of scoring another 0.5% in their exams. Boards across the nation will dole out 90 %+ to their candidates. Media – Social, electronic and print will overflow with congratulatory messages and interviews with faces of studious looking students being flaunted from billboards, bus ads and other avenues. Teachers will pat themselves on the back for their “outstanding results”. Schools and coaching classes will go ballistic advertising their “toppers”.

Yet all is not well behind the glamorous and glitzy world of achievers so heartily splashed in front of us. There are some uncomfortable questions that will make us squirm in our seats but they still need to be answered. Firstly, what we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg, what of the vast majority who do not make it to this elite club? What about those children, who, for reasons beyond their control, are left struggling on the margins with mediocre or poor results — or even end up failing?

Of all the gloating and self congratulating teachers, how many of them identified and spent time with students struggling with learning disabilities? How many teachers are even capable of recognising a student with a learning disability?

More importantly, how many of these citadels of high achievement would even admit any disadvantaged student?


Anyways getting back to the stellar 90%s and higher results, what do they actually reflect? There is no denying that students have worked really hard to achieve this magical figure. But to me this number is an indicator of the efficiency of regurgitation possessed by the student. Today, the students need to be rewarded not because they have efficiently regurgitated the textbook in the exam but the fact that they have survived a joyless education system.

The fact, however, remains that the system is hugely “content driven”. What’s missing is that drive in teachers to teach the students to make connections between the lessons from one discipline with those of another. Between, say, math and music? Where is the drive to teach students to think creatively yet critically, to work in teams, to assume leadership, to research and reference, to communicate effectively?

Aren’t these the skills required in the real world and emphasised upon in management colleges?  Have the teachers excited the students to the point of waking up and coming to school just to learn something new in their favourite subject? Teachers who cannot stop congratulating themselves for the ‘pioneering’ results are maybe forgetting that ubiquitous steroid of the education market – the tuitions, without which even that 90 %, flawed as it might be, would have been difficult to obtain.

The next blow is administered to the way the examinations are conducted. Who are the examiners? Aren’t they also selected from the pool of schoolteachers, who I dare say do not form a very distinguished catchment area?

Why would I say so? Firstly, teaching is not exactly a career option that candidates are falling over each other to get into. The motivation level to enter class, to begin with is very low. Further compounding the problem is that teacher training can be best described as serendipitous in our country. It is so largely ignored that a few gems of teachers are produced is a miracle in itself. Today, schools have their eyes fixed on the balance sheet so generally spends on teacher training are considered a waste of precious resources.


It is a massive lacuna in our education system that we are yet to create an institute of the stature of an IIM or IIT for teacher training. And ironically, the schoolteacher who is a product of the current system helps entrants prepare for the IITs and IIMs and other professions. What about the rampant cases of cheating in the exam centers? So how valid are these results?

A sad summation of the current situation is that the schools in India are less about “education” and more about “certification”. Name one enlightened society where a child virtually “boxed in” as early as grade IX and forced into either “Commerce”, “Science” or god forbid “Humanities”?

Our schools need to stop dead in their tracks, think completely off the beaten path in opening up the minds of the students to the world around us. Instill a sense of curiosity, sensitivity to both the animate and the inanimate world, a health sense of inquiry and only then will it be termed as education which will prepare our students to be “weapons polished and keen” who will help build a new world order.



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