Beat the System!


By Aparmita Das

Assignments and Deadlines! These two words have become quite popular among the students and teachers of colleges and universities recently. Well…I will get back to it later but now let me turn your focus to a very simple word, System, which is a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network. We all know that, don’t we? Therefore, the biggest fault of our Education System is that we believe it to be a “system” and this makes our schools, colleges and universities nothing but institutions of control which manufactures human machines that are thoroughly schooled but not educated.

For NOW I’ll ask you to forget what I just mentioned in the first paragraph (Education is not a “system” *air-quoted*) and let’s commit to the terms Education System. Speaking of Commit, I just got reminded of one of my teachers’ most favorite phrase “commit and vomit” that he often threw at the students every time they were unable to answer simple “out of syllabus” conceptual questions. One should be amused by the way a student cynically manipulates the “system” by simply memorizing facts and figures long enough to pass a test. And we proudly call a student intelligent as long as he/she is able to remember and repeat things. This is exactly what commit and vomit means. You memorize something just to vomit it out in the answer sheet and forget about it later. But this does not hold true for every student because some actually are good in the subjects that are taught in school; reason being their interest in the subject or the way they are taught by the teachers. In majority of cases however, the former prevails. Since we are still sticking to the term “system”, don’t you think that our education system is slowly deteriorating into the examination system? It has become a formality, a part of routine, a mere earning of Degrees and whether you learn anything or not does not really concern anybody. Then why is it that our country has a large number of highly qualified unemployed individuals? The answer lies in the difference between Qualification and Education.

The most used “C” word of 2020 is……yes, you guessed it right. It’s Corona virus. This single strand of RNA has brought the whole world to a halt. You must be wondering as to why I dragged a virus in a so-called article about education, but it seemed necessary. This is just to let everybody know that ACADEMIC and PANDEMIC do not go hand in hand. Now let us go back to the very first two words of this write-up: Assignments and Deadlines! Many have already raised the issues related to the unavailability of network connection in rural areas (kindly refer to the articles which have provided proper facts and figures) and also how the mental health of the students are being affected by it. Now, because of cyclone Amphan, forget about internet connectivity, many have even lost their homes in different parts of the country. But hey, students cannot miss the deadlines when it comes to submission of assignments because this will determine their future (please sense the sarcasm here).  It is true that the teachers and the administration do care about the students but sadly, their first priority is completion of the syllabus because exams are just round the corner.

Now this makes me wonder about the purpose of formally going to educational institutions. Is it really to learn and acquire knowledge or just to pass exams? Thanks to this pandemic, I have come to the realization that “education” has always been about completion of syllabus, holding of examination and grading of students. That’s it!

Education in today’s generation is pretty expensive. But no, I will not babble about the fees here but what struck my attention is the announcement of distribution of application forms for admission into schools and colleges (Standard XI and undergrad courses) even during this pandemic! This is a ritual of many prestigious institutes and after certain pressure groups and individuals spoke against it, the price of the forms was reduced (that’s what I learned). But this did not solve the problem. Students are still forced to buy application forms from many institutes because apparently the institutes will run out of forms if the students do not collect them way before the declaration of results. Whether one clears the exam or not, it does not matter, as long as one is ready with the application forms from at least two to three institutes (this goes for the students who are not very sure if they’d be admitted to the course in that institute).

Well, how about the schools and colleges giving away application forms (with the minimum cut off marks for admission written on it) for free or a minimum sum of Rs 5 and after the declaration of results, the student can submit the form to the respective school or college and if the institute finds that the student is eligible for admission, then they can “sell” the admission form. Education should not be commercialized.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, “Indian education framework needs to change completely”. Yes, it surely does. It is not too late yet. The sole purpose of education has been long lost. It was never about getting a 9-5 job and earning huge sums of money. It is about being a useful citizen of the world and making a difference in whatever way possible. Education is a life-long learning process. Let us not make it a system. Also, to every individual out there, do not let any system pigeon-hole you to a particular category. Explore all your talents and break free.

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