Four years ago, I wrote the “Incremental fallacy”. Many believe steady growth is a good idea. It is not. It may be true in case of physical growth or in case of recovery from a medical condition. In a country struggling for jobs or basic infrastructure incremental growth is the path of the lazy and the corrupt. In most cases ModiSarkar has managed to escape that trap but one domain where it is still almost zero in accomplishment is school education. Earlier Smriti Irani and now Prakash Javdekar have been miserable failures on this front. They were dabbling more with higher education when the curse is on kids in schools. Kids have truly been turned into beasts of burden. And this has been so for long. A few days back this was on Timesnow:
Some MHA inquiry reveals Teesta Setalvad’s stupid writings in a school book (funded by corrupt Congress) reek of communal agenda. What the media or MHA guys don’t openly dare to say – her writings are filled with hatred for Hindus. And this requires an inquiry for months? Even so, no action has been taken against her nor have the books written by her dumped in the garbage. They continue to be used by teachers and students in some states. Commies have filled our books with false history, and lies. The argument that what was done in 60 years cannot be dismantled in 3 years is another fallacy. Establish bogus history clearly and many distortions have also been exposed over the last three decades. So it is not as if things will be done suddenly. The fear of ModiSarkar is that it will be labelled “Saffronisation”. Such fear is uncalled for. The Opposition and media can whine but our children need not be fed anymore with filth of Aryan invasion or glorification of murderous Mughal invaders. Recently, I came across another case of textbook or exercise book for kids that is absolutely disgusting:
The GOI is busy trying to improve universities and IIMs and creating more IITs and institutes of higher learning. All that is fine. There is something that the GOI and HRD ministry and in the education department are seriously ignoring:
Geniuses, innovators and also criminals are not created in higher
institutions – the roots are in schools and they are created in our schools. Commie filth is also created in our schools
and not in JNU or some university through bogus books.
In the Congress-UPA decade many books in schools were teaching glorious Pappu or the Pak-stooge Barkha as good examples. The Gandhi family was being glorified and the glorification of Islamic invaders grew. Children are being asked what should a boy do on converting to Islam. They are being taught Indian folklore now in the form of Jesus-salesmen stories. Bollywood too feeds such criminal distortion of our history and some folks are holding a seminar on it:
There are other major issues that should seriously concern ModiSarkar. PM Modi every year sermonises on facing exams without pressure and with a smile. Talk to parents – most will tell you school-life has become a miserable burden for both parents and students by ever-increasing demands. Indian education has yet to learn the new-age methods of the learning and testing systems:
Not everything needs to be taught. Some subjects or topics
should only be read in schools with pleasure. Secondly, not everything
that is taught needs to be tested – neither in schools nor at the board level.
That’s how you remove pressure from exams. What sense does it make to ask KG students to do homework? They should just be enjoying in the classroom – playing and learning. What sense does it make to put pressure on kids to cram and memorise history, geography or civics? I don’t think these subjects even need to be tested. Teach but don’t test. Even if the school finds great joy in testing, why not just test these subjects with multiple-choice questions and OMRs (Optical mark readers)? All major international tests largely use OMRs. In such a case, even a student who has read the chapters casually would usually pick a right choice. And mind you, even if one doesn’t know the answer – making an intelligent guess is also a skill. After all, famous educationist Laurence J Peter did say that “An expert is a person who makes three consecutive guesses right”. Instead of being assembly-line manufacturing units, our school system should aim to produce great thinkers:
In the pressure that these subjects create on students our system damages them in the very core subjects that require the most knowledge and skills. In addition to burdensome tests, there are dozens of Olympiads and external tests which schools force students to take and also make money from. And students not doing well in such tests are further made to feel inferior. All students are not talented to be “Academic scorers”. Many have other skills which will build their life. But basic to these skills are three major subjects – English, Maths and Science (EMS).
Some folks are anti-English. I don’t agree and I don’t think this is an issue anymore. It has long been a second language for India and definitely gives a greater advantage in higher education and globally. The challenge is to bring those lagging behind to higher quality. Not dump English. Here are some facts:
# India has not participated in Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS). The countries leading in these tests are Singapore, Japan, Taipei and Korea. Even USA or European nations don’t rank very high.
# In the Program for International Student Assessments (PISA) on the same lines as TIMSS India ranked second-last among 73 countries. Indian students ranked 200 points behind the global topper. Does that worry our GOI and teachers of the three important subjects?
# Even the SAT tests are mainly in English, Maths and Science. It is the gateway to seeking entry to US colleges and universities. Many Indian students appear for this test. SAT scores are also accepted in some higher institutions like IIM or IIT. The pattern of SAT tests are also multiple-choices scored by OMRs.
In addition to all the above, our politicians then wonder why Muslims don’t enter mainstream life or fail to get good jobs. What exactly do Madrassas teach? Any idea? They teach Quran and everything Muslim but Madrassas hardly produce students well-skilled in EMS. In one case a Mullah is reportedly creating a mini Islamic state in Bengal. Is this education? Instead of that, our states continue funding them and try to enforce the holiday system of Madrassas. Who gives a damn whether a Madrassa is closed on Friday or closed on all days. What should concern govts is what they are teaching and what they are testing. If they are not meeting the same standards in key subjects of EMS as demanded from others, then they can close all week. Doesn’t make any difference. So what happens when our students struggle with EMS and are pressurised with History or Civics? Here’s what happens:
Because the schools don’t cater to building the foundations in EMS there is a very vast industry of coaching classes. Parents have to dole out extra-ordinary sums for coaching so that kids are able to not only pass but also score highly in entrance exams to higher education. Kota doesn’t have any university but it is among the richest centres of coaching business. And these coaching centres are as much a den of black money as any other business. In case of higher classes where students have to choose their streams – Commerce can test Accountancy, Statistics, Economics and Arts can test History, Economics etc. as majors. But EMS in the primary stages must receive the highest focus.
How did some our IIMs, IITs or Medical Institutions become world class? Not merely because of their buildings or teachers. These institutes receive the BEST of students who have become very good learners and performers. Most of the students of such institutes are highly skilled in EMS, not in history and civics. Most of them get in because of their merits (I discount those that get in through reservations or some shady quotas). In many IITs former students who finished the course or have finished PhD course also double up as lecturers. In contrast govt spends on permanent “Jamaais” like Kanhaiyas in institutes like JNU that produce nothing or mediocrity.
As an Educationist, I have met over 3000 schools and Principals, interacted with thousands of teachers, students and parents. ALL OF THEM are constantly under pressure. A class-6 CBSE student has an exam period of 11-12 days twice a year. What in hell do they test? Of course, the student is given holidays in between to prepare for the test. How much do you have to prepare for a class-6 test? It has now become criminal torture. Even today, after so much public debate, our kids still carry heavy bags to school. This is definitely a practice that can be ended with dramatic change.
The govt has little or no focus on school education which is the foundation for the future of a country. Most of the focus is on creating more schools and more enrolments - These are basics but very poor measures of good education. ModiSarkar is not the cause of the rot, but it has the mandate and the power to create a dramatic change and relieve pressure from exams that Modi himself wants. I know for sure our school education can be dramatically changed for a better future for students and the country in a very short time. Yes, Education is a State matter but GOI does have control over CBSE, with schools across India and abroad, and the change can start from there. States will naturally follow. Focussing merely on higher institutions is a wrong approach of our GOI. There are many education specialists who can also help. Dramatic changes can relieve exam pressures, not incremental ones.