After Happiness, Money Can Buy Education Too

Bihar toppersIndian education isn’t run on merit, and probably many would agree with me. Our education system has long lost the essence of knowledge and now, for most parts, it survives solely on the merit of power and of course, money. We are living in an era where swapping ideals for success is as easy changing clothes. Yes, anything can be bought, as long as you have the passion and the finances at your disposal.

Of late, many of us were appalled by the recent exposure of the apparent Bihar toppers who were interviewed by India Today. The families of those interviewed, blamed the media for making them nervous. Obviously, its only ‘out of nervousness’ that one forgets the most reactive element in the periodic table, its all nervousness. While Arts topper Ruby Rai pronounced political science as ‘prodigal science’ and said the subject dealt with cooking, science topper Saurav Srestha could not define proton and electron.

After this insight, the 13 top performers in the Class XII state board exams, were asked by the Bihar School Examination Board to re-appear for their examinations- to either falsify or testify the alleged claims. As per the results, the state board has cancelled the results of Saurav Srestha and Rahul Raj, both from the science stream and students of Vaishali’s Vishnu Roy College. There are allegations that the college’s director has political links and runs a racket to produce good results in state board exams.

All this ruckus define the degradation our education system is facing. Well, is it degrading if there is money involved? So what if all this compromises on the intellectual bank of our country, as long as the banks are getting fuelled with money, all is okay in our country.

However, all this also reveals another hazardous facet of our society. The kind of importance that we delegate to marks is beyond disgusting. It leads to certain obsession among kids to score well, which leads them to getting involved in paper-leaking, marks-buying sort of activity. The desperation is so much that they want good results by hook or crook. In our distorted society, education is not perceived as something that opens gateways to continuous learning and exploration. Instead it is viewed from a narrow instrumental framework as a ticket to a job. Such obsession is toxic for society and the education system as a whole.

Electronic technology, proxies, chits and every possible cheating means are deployed to get high marks. Our education system has neither the ability nor the intention to prevent such malpractices. Such severe lack of vigilance makes the entire system vulnerable which is being regulated by people possessing more power and better connections.

Over the last decade there has been an exponential rise in the number of students securing extremely high marks across various boards. This facade of rising marks masks the poor quality and the unfair nature of our education system.

There has to be constant and regulated vigilance so as to move beyond this issue. Once we move beyond this, then only we can hope to unearth the many layers of power play that goes into the making of our toppers. The many layers include the existence of in-our-face rackets run by the school authorities and the checkers of the esteemed and viable examination, the corrupt officials who readily sacrifice the  intellectual vault in a bid to increase their own.

Whom should we save, the education system, the children getting enticed by the allure of marks or the society that strengthens the motto ‘more marks, more success’? With so much to save while acting upon our diminishable ideals, one can do nothing but hope. Hope for a better future, and more importantly, for better individuals.

Yugansha Malhotra

The Viewspaper