By Sudipto Das:
Formal education and the methods of providing it have always been a matter of huge discussion in India. But we have never really been able to overcome the hurdle it poses and the vices it possesses.Â I have a view which involves three areas and the changes, I believe, can be implemented to have a better formal education system in place.
The first area I want to focus on is, marking a child’s performance and then critiquing it, which in a number of cases has proven to be counterproductive. When a primary school student is made to confront an odd situation of public shaming or declaration of his/her result through a report card in front of a whole class and his/her parents are told about the child’s shortcomings, how much pressure it would be for the child is beyond our understanding. I still remember my teacher’s scathing remarks on my report card which made me fearful of mathematics forever. Instead of making me better at problem solving it made me avoid mathematics throughout my life.
What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t have the grading or marking system till we are in secondary school. Giving out assignments and checking them is important; but not marking or categorizing students at an age when they are still trying to discover themselves. Let’s not teach our children to race and come first, let’s try and make them run together to achieve a common goal.
The second thing I would like to have changed is not recognizing the need for appreciating the accomplishments of children in extra-curricular activities. In the race to produce scholars, we have always neglected the value of extra-curricular activities and never made them a part of the curriculum. My teachers were of the opinion that my participation in debate and drama was adversely affecting my studies. While that was true, my point is, shouldn’t I have been given marks for my involvement in an activity which was helping me build my opinions and perspectives in life? Are those skills secondary and deserve to be placed in some isolated corner of the report card?
The third aspect which needs greater attention from academicians, educationists and law-makers is to make different curricula more consonant with certain basic principles. CBSE and ICSE are the two central boards in our country and then every state has its own board which takes the count to a staggering 38. State run boards are inconsistent, each time there is a change in regime, education seems to be the first victim of the political upheaval. For instance, it is believed that the UP Board is stringent in giving marks to students which makes it difficult for them to clear the most coveted colleges of the country. If implemented, in my opinion, these three recommendations will solve the crisis our education system faces, outdated and stagnant as it stands, as of now.