I am pained by the high cut offs...

 At the recently held convocation of IIT Bombay the Prime Minsiter said that "his heart is pained" by the high cut-offs for college admissions. "We are placing limits on opportunities for our youth," he said. I agree one hundred per cent!

Yet there is another statistics I wish our honourable PM also looked. I am referring to the abysmally low figure needed to pass an examination, and particularly the class XII Boards. It is just thirty three percent! You will be surprised to know that in some Government schools the curriculum is not completed because as I was candidly told by a school principal: all they need is 33% we cover 40% of the curriculum. I was to say the least speechless. So you need over 90% to accede to a good and affordable university education but all you need is 33% to pass your secondary school examination.

The equation is skewed and incomprehensible. The only 'logical' explanation seems to be that is that University education is not for the poor. Le me elucidate. A first generation learner is often the child of poor illiterate or semi literate parents. She or he has no option but to study in a state run school. The state run school often offers second class education and with the no fail policy till class VII the child goes from class to class till class VIII! Then many of them muddle through and can manage a secondary school certificate with 33%. Not an impossible task as she/he is a master at learning by rote and has access to a plethora of badly written guide books that do the job. Now armed with the precious certificate the student does not have many options is she or he wants to go for further studies. The 90%+ institutions are closed to her. The private institutions are out of their reach. Study aboard is an impossibility. The student may get admission in an evening course or a correspondence or distance course but these are of little value.

33% does not even give you the possibility to apply for a job as most of them ask a minimum of 50%. Your parents who do not comprehend the meaning and importance of marks are baffled at the fact that the education they gave you at great sacrifice and with great hope is not opening the doors they hoped for. What is so frustating is that that majority of these kids CAN do well if given the chance. For the past 12 years a few hours at pwhy has enabled many of these kids to get marks in the 70s and even 80s. But even those are not enough to get a good college education.

So Mr Prime Minister you should only be pained at the cut off marks for admission in higher education institutions but shocked at the abysmally low pass marks your system adheres to. I know that everyone in the country cannot aspire to higher education but the very Right to Education that you have given to all the children of India should at least help them break the cycle of poverty in which they were born. And talking of shocking figures why is it that this very RTE stops at the age of 14 when a child is nowhere finishing his school even if he or she is bright and talented. So 14 is another figure that should pain you. Your system does not even grant her/him the right to complete school. Moreover with the poor quality of education offered this fourteen year  old has few doors open to her/him.

Your speech sounds very rosy and hopeful when you state: Our government has opened new IITs, new IIMs and new institutions for teaching and research in the sciences. We have increased investment in school education. We have increased scholarships for the disadvantaged sections of our society. We have set up new institutions in different parts of the country so that our children can get the best education available closer home. The ground reality is something else! The new IIMs and IITs are again for the the chosen few.

As stated earlier, higher education is not for everyone. But at the same time opportunities should be given to one and all. At present the school education we are giving is worthless. It cannot give any job opportunity. In some countries skill are imparted at an early stage and students can opt for a school leaving format that introduces the candidate to the work environment whilst still in school. The Bac en Alternance offered in France has the student working for part of the week and studying in school for the remaining days. So a student interested in catering would be working in a kitchen for 3 days and studying for the remaining 3. Once he or she has passed the final examination the student can apply for a apprenticeship in the chosen field and work her/his way up. A wide range of options are open to her/him. Skills like plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, beautician, stitching and tailoring etc should be introduced early so that at the end of school the student is ready for employment. Unless some such option is created education in India will remain useless and futile.

So there many statistics that should disturb anyone who holds the interest of children at heart, specially the PM.