Jun 8, 2012

The new IIT JEE: Too much too soon?

Everyone's angry at Kapil Sibal. Every single soul who is a part of the education system in the country of a billion hearts. I am no exception. However, let me very clear here. I am writing this not to criticize him. This is to express my views on the pathetic system of education in India.

At school, the education is given, but, higher education is acquired...

The education system in India is quite young, as compared to it's foreign counterparts. We may talk about how successful the foreign counterparts are, but what we fail to consider is this age. The budget for the education system is a whopping  INR 52 crores. That figure, for a country where hundreds of millions go to bed with a hungry stomach, is no joke. What it does signify is that we have been trying.

The introduction of activity based learning a few years back in the secondary schools of the country was a pretty bold idea, considering that the then present system was older than the country itself. However, that doesn't signify that you try and convert the whole system into that being followed in the USA within a span of five years! The most discussed of these moves the implementation of the new JEE.

There are two main points here: the incorporation of the board marks, and unification of all the engineering entrance exams in the country. By doing so, the different education boards are being treated at par. That is one hazardous assumption. Being from Assam, I can't find the words to describe the huge difference in the evaluation of answer scripts in CBSE and SEBA (Secondary Education Board of Assam.) The difference can be significantly reduced by lowering the weightage of the board marks. If I were a student entering higher secondary, I would not have sleepless nights if that weightage was reduced to somewhere below 20%.

Secondly, having a single exam for all engineering entrances can still be a disaster. Let us suppose I have a bad day. Maybe I have a headache. Maybe that did not let me concentrate properly. That leads me flunk the exam. Does that mean either I forget this line of study or waste another year?

Change is inevitable. But the way that has been chosen to do the same is certainly not the right one. There are certain other factors that need to be altered before this chance can safely take place. Look the teaching technique for example. In India, we still have those same lectures for learning stuff. There are hardly any seminars or other interactive sessions, narrowing the learning part to those boring lectures only. Nothing creative. No innovation.

There is also a lack of foreign faculty in the country, even at the level of the IITs. What is worse is that, there are instances where the professor has completed his degree from the same institution where he works. If this sort of a thing goes on, do you expect the youth to develop?

What Sibal has been trying is to duplicate the education system overseas. His ideas can not be better, but what he fails to realize is that it's not the right time to do the same. Doing it so soon can have negative effects in the form of putting far more pressure on the students that he can ever imagine.

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