Friday, April 23, 2021

Academic issues

Every year after the declaration of Board results, we often hear a lot of noise about the falling educational standards. The entire discourse ultimately precipitates in denouncing the government institutions with the buck finally stopping at the teachers in such institutions. Unmindful of the fact that he is a minor actor, the teachers are blamed for everything in the flop show. Subsequently like the proverbial sacrificial goat, these teachers find themselves defenseless and voiceless. There are many tragic elements in the sad story and elaborating each element needs a separate discussion. Analyzing the problem objectively and in an unbiased manner, however, one would find that the government educational institutions and the teachers therein are not performing as poorly as it is made out to be. One cannot deny the existence of delinquent teachers in such institutions but the fact remains that there is a good number of efficient, honest and dedicated teachers despite no encouragement whatsoever. There is no mechanism in place to monitor the classroom performance of a teacher both at the school and college levels. All the awards in the system are for those who never engage a class and instead remain busy in managing the non-academic sideshows having a lot of news value. Our education system needs a series of course corrections if it is to come out of the morass. We should not be led astray by the cent percent board results shown by some private institutions. Board results must not be taken as the sole indicator of the health of our educational system. Our examination system is quite archaic wherein rote memory of the examinees is tested more than the levels of comprehension. This is why most of the high score achievers prove failure in the entrance and other competitive examinations. The most serious problem with the system is that it breeds social alienation amongst the educated youth at all levels. Alienation among them has emerged as a major challenge for educationists, psychologists and sociologists world over. Alienation means “a feeling of having no connection” or “a feeling of disconnectedness “or “estrangement” of an individual from the society he comes from. The creeping in of such a feeling amongst the younger generation creates a host of problems having far reaching sociological consequences as it saps the very foundations of society. All institutions in a vibrant society need to reinforce the moorings of its members in its socio-cultural and socio-economic ethos. Any institution, howsoever sacred or well established which unhinges the individual and alienates him from his existential moorings, needs to be reformed, root and branch, to the extent that all members of the society, instead of getting alienated from it, identify themselves with its socio-cultural and socio-economic edifice and ethos. In our state agriculture, horticulture, tourism and handicrafts have all along been the major economic activities and they shall continue to be so for a long period of time. The first two sectors, agriculture and horticulture, are the main sectors on which about more than 70% percent of our population from rural and semi urban areas thrives. It does not, therefore, need much of intelligence to understand that our academic calendar needs to be tailored so that our college and school going youth remain associated with such activities directly or indirectly besides pursuing their studies. The only way to ensure this is that the academic calendar should be such that our youth remain available to their parents when they need them most for such activities. It is sad that today our youth know more about Bollywood/Hollywood, cricket and fashion than anything connected with their socio-economic or socio-cultural milieu. Evaluating our educational system against this backdrop, one is led to the only conclusion that the system, both in content and its calendar, is quite divorced from the socio-cultural and socio-economic bases of our society. The need of the hour, therefore, is a radical rethinking on both these fronts. Whereas a change in the content could be entrusted to a well meaning group of experts having a real feel of the mismatch between our curriculum and our socio-economic and socio-cultural realities, the change in calendar can be effected without much of a fuss.