I had blogged recently about the absurd situation faced by students aspiring to get admission in colleges in Delhi. There is more. A racket has just been exposed. It got you admission to your preferred college @ 500 000 Rs! The modus operandi: providing the candidate with a fake caste certificate. The aspirants were even students with high marks not satisfied with the college they got through merit wanting more! The racket had been going on for some years.
The cover story of a leading weekly aptly entitled 95% and nowhere to go, brushes a grim picture of the marks saga and the state of our education. Do read it if you have time. There are some startling facts. For instance the article says: Marks have been inflated, even as testing standards have been simplified. If you are 17 and can find an error with a sentence such as, "We were late and it is getting dark" or "Now we both was running", or write a hypothetical dialogue when clues and even an example is given, you will probably do well in a Class XII CBSE English exam. A teacher goes on to reveal; It is possible to score 100 per cent even in English with the current lenient marking scheme: My school has had an exceptional result this year, with more than 29 per cent getting over 90 per cent in English. This, from students who cannot string three sentences of English together. A board paper does not test any real learning. It only tests your capability of answering a paper according to a prescribed answer sheet. Phew! That says a lot does it not? The marking system is absurd. A child's entire future depends on how you perform on a given day in a given examination. Children cannot cope with the stress and we all are too painfully aware of the suicides that happen each year.
Children are taught how to score, not how to learn, think, analyse, reason etc. The culprit is the shift from the essay type question to the objective one! A student needs only to learn by rote. No one expects him to be creative, enquiring etc. Our education system has gone astray and needs to be set right urgently.
The rot started some years back. I remember how a young girl who wanted to be a doctor all her life and was an excellent student missed her boat by a few marks. She then had to become an engineer and is today a very unhappy though successful one. This is not an isolated case. There must be many like her. But is education not a means to realise your dreams? Not in our land. Here it is marks that defines who you will be and what you will become.
Now let us get back to the caste certificate racket as it compels us to ask some disturbing questions. It is obvious that these are purchased with the blessings of the student's parents as no one class XII student could have access to such amounts of cash. Our first reaction would be to recoil in horror. How can parents accept to abet cheating? What lesson are they giving their children? and so on. But let us look at the matter in another way. Are they not simply helping their children fulfill their dreams. Not as simple as it seems, too many shades of grey.
In all this imbroglio our thoughts must once again go back to the children from underprivileged homes. If students with 90% are going to fill reserved seats by unfair means then where will the real beneficiaries go? Reservation, whether one approves of it or not, is meant to help the underprivileged get access to better options. It is true that even this had been hijacked by the so called creamy layer. And now it is being hijacked by the privileged ones.
Getting a caste certificate is no easy task. I remember how we tried to get one for a little Valmiki girl in the hope of getting her registered for some girl child programme. In spite of our best efforts we were unable to do so. The paper work required was beyond imagination and logic, and we got lost in the maze and missed the deadline. The said programme was only available to children less than 6 months old. So you see the scenario: the deserving cannot get a certificate whilst the rich can by paying. This is the real India story. Sad is it not.
India is replete of good intentions gone astray. I always hold that if even 50% of our social programmes had worked we would be a different nation altogether. My mind goes to the (ill)famed ICDS launched in 1975 that would have ensured that all Indians below the age of 35 would have been vaccinated and provided early nutrition. That was not the case as even today a child dies of malnutrition every 8 minutes! What ICDS has done is make people rich and provide jobs to political cronies. This is just one programme, there are hundreds that have gone the same way and it is still happening.
It is time we did something. We owe it to the millions of children who have been forgotten by all.