(This article is written in the wake of the strenuous education system (matriculation) in the state of Tamil Nadu.)
Few days back, the board results of the tenth standard students have been announced and they must prepare to enter the “most grueling/life turning” two years of their life- such is the importance of the higher secondary years in our education system.
When the tenth results were announced, I happened to be in Namakkal- the so called educational belt of Tamil Nadu. On that particular day, the town witnessed a procession of cars that resulted in road blocks- anxious parents eager to enroll their children into these schools so that their future is secured. In their opinion, its just good marks, good marks and good marks alone.
But do marks alone form the basis of education?
The purpose of the education system at the school level is to enrich the student with the basic knowledge in all sciences and to provide him an all round development that will establish a good launching pad for his further pursuits.
The current scenario of the +1 and +2 school years is bleak in our state. Students are subjected to two years of rigorous hard work where they are confined only to the covers of the books. Schools have changed from being “centers of learning” to “mark producing factories”. Students are merely treated as machines that are designed for the task of obtaining high marks.
In order to achieve this feat, many schools skip the +1 portions (which form the basis for education in colleges) and make the students study the +2 portions for two years. Students are made to write revision tests daily and mug the same again and again till they are able to reproduce (or vomit) in the board exams. Such is the impact of these schools; parents are willing to shell out large stacks of cash to get their wards admitted.
These schools also admit only the students who attain high percentages in the 10th board examinations. For instance, this year at a certain school in Namakkal, students who got below 470 marks were denied admissions. And for those students who are admitted, they are separated into classes according to their marks (the better ones get better coaching and the lesser ones do not). Thus, they create a stark discrimination among the students which affects their psychology and performance to a great extent.
There has been a culmination of factors that has resulted in this situation. Education has become a very profitable business- with seats selling like hot cakes. The schools guarantee for good marks and hence the admissions keep on coming.
Poor quality of government schools is another major reason for this huge dominance of private players. Government schools in our state are devoid of infrastructure and hence experiences a lack in student strength.
And in this business oriented approach, education has become a race-where students have to edge each others out to make the cut and in the process, records are toppled every year. Sometimes, even a 96% score would not be sufficient for the creamy layer of colleges.
But, is this real success? Are we not losing something in the bigger picture?
The schools have shifted their focus of prime importance from “attainment of knowledge by the student” to “obtaining of marks”; the end result is that these schools churn out half baked students who have not gained complete knowledge and also lack in overall development.
This is an area of huge concern that the state government needs to address quickly. The quality of government schools must be improve. The government schools should be equipped with furnished classrooms, laboratories with latest equipments, playgrounds, indoor stadiums, library and an arts center. Professional teachers must be given decent salary packages and the environment should be conducive for students. Free meals should be provided to the economically backward students.
if this scenario is to change, the government needs to become the big Daddy of education (as in the cases of UK, US) where people of all economic strata get a fair shot at the board exams.
The curriculum must be revamped with importance meted out to physical fitness, various arts, sports and the overall shaping of the student.
True, marks are important. But are marks alone the criteria for a successful student?
It is time our schools started producing successful students who can shape the future of the nation and make India a superpower in the coming years.