This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rakesh Pandey. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Devil Inside Our Examination System Is Killing Innovative Thinking

More from Rakesh Pandey

By Rakesh Kumar Pandey:

I personally believe that interaction is the best way to assess students’ aptitude. You may ask any teacher and they would be almost certain of how to group their students under different categories. For example, they would confidently single out an extraordinary student among them, would never blink while picking up the few best among them, would easily mark the ‘above average’ students, and would not think twice before identifying ‘below average’ students and thus will be leaving out the ‘average students’ with some surety. But when you ask a teacher to rank the same set of students on individual basis, they would then depend on the result of an examination. It seems, we need examinations primarily to rank the students. If you need to select a fixed number of persons among a pool of probables and you have no freedom to select them category-wise then one would be left with no choice but to “somehow” get their ranking.

12TH_CBSE_EXAMS_IN_D_13453f

In a country like India, that is struggling to manage numbers within a category, we tend to completely depend on the ranking of students. Be it entrance-tests of admission seekers or selection from a pool of candidates for a job, we are used to dealing with unmanageable number of applications and in each such cases we depend on the result of a test to rank them. This makes the life of selectors not only very easy but, in India, it most importantly also counters all kinds of possible interference and unwanted influence on the selection process. In my college, on several occasions during the admission days, I have been able to withstand the pressures from influential quarters only by hiding myself behind my inability to defy the ranking decided by marks of the students that they get in the CBSE test.

Marks, Ranks and the real Excellence

Do these rankings reflect their actual standing among the applicants? Many of us will make out that there is a scope to fool one’s own ranking if the candidate is able to ‘somehow’ perform well in a test. Thus, it appears that knowledge and understanding takes a back seat and memory becomes the real factor that ultimately decides the rankings. This analysis makes us believe that ranking has nothing to do with the general aptitude and intelligence of a candidate and it merely reflects their ability to memorize things. We tend to get an impression that those who top the ranking charts are good for nothing except rote-learning. It is at this point that I beg to differ with this understanding. It is indeed interesting to realise that while rankings within the same category are often bound to give many surprises but only occasionally it may even throw an odd result challenging their categorisation too.

Despite the fact that our examination system is designed to rank the students on the basis of their ability to memorize, how does the ranks reflect more or less the same categorization that a teacher interacting with them would prepare on the basis of their overall intelligence? The devil lies in the realization that these examinations become so important part of our life that the students gets encouraged to compete among themselves. In Indian conditions, when all of us know that we would be subjected to pass through some written test or the other at several occasions in our life, students tend to prepare themselves to face these tests. Students who have better understanding, thinking power and are full of ideas and innovations indulge themselves in rote-learning only to prove that they are better. It is due to this reason that most often than not, the top rankers happen to be the best among the lot only. So, can we relax? No, never. As we must also realize that in this process, the examinations are forcing these exceptional and brilliant minds to read and re-read several times to memorize things that they may have had understood by heart in only a few of those several attempts.

The Real Devil

The devil actually lies here, in our examination system, exceptional students and innovators are forced to engage themselves in proving that they are better than those who can only memorize without understanding concepts. Their invaluable time that they could have otherwise invested into innovative thinking is thus wasted only to equip them to prove that they are better than those who are potentially proficient rote-learners. It is for this that only in India, the exceptional student look for solutions and not problems. This compels Indian authors to compulsorily provide solutions in their textbooks as students never get evaluated for how well he/she understands a problem but only by their capability to vomit a clear solution on the answer sheets. Their ability to think, visualize and analyze a problem gets completely overshadowed by their urge to look for ready-made available solutions. To the disadvantage of our country, these traits of our exceptional students remain disappointingly unexplored.

It is not for no reasons that teachers are often asked to give their evaluation and assessment of a student who apply for admissions outside India. Ignoring the marks that a student scores, these institutes depend heavily on teacher’s assessment of the student on a few aspects such as their ability to think, innovative, to communicate clearly, work hard, to be able to work in a group and finally by asking the teacher to bracket them into a category out of all students that they had interacted with. Myself a teacher, I have seen many students, who did not have rankings on their side, to have proved their excellence in the long run once they got admission into a career of their choice.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude this discussion with a remark wherein I just wonder what would those students do who are really exceptional and if they are eventually relieved from going through the useless exercise of proving that their rankings indeed reflect their abilities. Then they would utilize their time by involving themselves in innovations and innovative thinking, ending up with fascinating ideas. But this would happen only when an era will come where students would be able to opt for a career of their choice and when opportunities will eventually outnumber the students. But till that time, examinations are only a necessary evil and we can not afford to abandon this as this helps us all in developing a faith in the system that provides a scope to withstand the interference of influence and power. As only in this system, ward of a ‘rickshaw-puller‘ and daughter of a ‘pan-wallah’ can dream to top the UPSC or the coveted IIT-JEE examination.

You must be to comment.
  1. Udit Garg

    Well I totally agree with you, I am also an undergraduate student who got thrown out of college in India while at the same time, a renowned US University in Michigan appreciated my Undergraduate research project and offered me transfer admission in US and that too with scholarship and research funds! The same project Indian educators said to be impossible, even though I am also a student who has been in top 10% of class and has been scoring more than 75% in each semester. It’s like they don’t want to evaluate me on my abilities but for them my attendance, cross-questioning and marks are the judging criteria only, well reasons are surely unknown for it and it’s something I would like to know about!

  2. Anitha Choudhary

    Its high time we understood that our education and examination system is not taking us anywhere… its just a ranking of the memorizing capabilities as mentioned in this article… Teachers can play a key role is bringing about a change in the outlook of the students… The roots of this problem are way deeper to be solved in a day or two…so we need to start with small small steps which can begin inside the classroom between the teacher and the student,…

More from Rakesh Pandey

Similar Posts

By Siddharth Mohan Roy

By Kshitiz Siwakoti

By Ananya Anand

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below