I’m Not In IIT, So What?

exam.jpgCome April, every year, lakhs of students appear for competitive examinations to secure admission in the college of their dreams. Over three lakh students appear for the 4600 seats in the seven prestigious IITs. This means, the probability of one getting into an IIT would be around one in a 100 students. 4600 make it to the IITs, after years of rigorous studies and toil, and yet some of them are forced to take whatever branch they get despite not having any inclination towards it. “So what?!”, they say, “I’ll be rich four years down the lane with a six figure salary,” or (this they fail to notice) “I could be another suicide case, whose memory fades away with time, as more people fill in my place.”  The rest of the 2,95,400 students who could not qualify either get into some other engineering college, where they spend the next four years of their lives, wishing they could have made it and feel even more depressed about the fact that they could not, or they decide to drop a year and decide to double their efforts, thus losing a precious year of their lives in pursuit of this whim. What is going on here? Has anybody woken up and taken notice that something is drastically wrong with the education system of our country?

Since our childhood, we are taught that marks and only marks determine our future. We are made to study hard, which includes completing a never-ending pile of homework, and cramming up notes so as to vomit them out in the exam. Academics are considered everything. Sports are equivalent to playing, while involvement in any cultural activity is all right as long as it does not interfere with our studies.

The parents are partly to blame. They compete amongst themselves in the “my son/ daughter scored higher” game. The parent whose ward has the highest marks is undoubtedly the winner; no one can say or do anything to tarnish his pride, while the parents of those with lesser marks are embarrassed by the teacher at the ‘highly informative and interactive’ parent – teacher meetings.

It is drilled into us that we are to work towards becoming doctors or engineers when we grow up. It is not our fault then, that we believe there is no world outside that of the engineering or medical field. Those, who still dare to voice their opinions, are looked down upon with contempt and pity. It is not our fault I say, nor entirely the fault of the parents, it is the fault of our society as a whole, with its pre-conceived notions and beliefs, that suppresses natural talent before it can fully bloom. Kids who want to grow up to become singers, or painters, or writers are thought to lack ‘that spark’ and are treated as though they are suffering from some mental ailment. They eventually end up, in some or the other engineering/ medical college, where they spend their talents in doodling at the edges of their notes, or singing for a college event, or writing for the college magazine.

There are some, who struggle, despite the odds, and succeed in making a name for themselves in their respective fields. It is then, and only then that the same society that earlier shunned its talent, comes forward to take credit for its accomplishment. India is proud of her Kalpana Chawlas, and her Narayan Karthikeyans, but only once they made their foray into the international arena and were noticed by the rest of the world. India thrives on influence. Even a little bit of recognition makes us swell up with pride. We have to get out of this attitude if we are to truly progress. It is not only engineers, doctors, or IAS officers, but also singers, performers, writers, painters, dancers, sportsmen/women and the like who contribute to the development of the country.

Our education system clearly needs a revamp if this is to be promoted. Focus should be on the overall development of the pupil, and not just on academics. Academics should constitute a necessary but not the whole part of an education. In the US and other countries, admission to universities is based not only on the academic performance, but also on the performance in various co-curricular activities and in sports. This is done based on the fact that students who have exposure to these different fields perform better in life and mature into sound citizens of tomorrow.

Are we not proud of the many soldiers of our country, who protect our borders and keep us safe from attacks? Or of our bankers, who ensure that we get our money properly? Or of the reporters, who keep us updated with the latest news and happenings around the world? Every person is contributing, silently to the progress of the country, every person has his worth, and so does every dream, that lives inside the dreamer before either vanishing into the oblivion or turning into a fire that ignites other people’s lives.

We have to realise that we are the country that gave birth to the Nalanda, the Takshashila University, Ujjain, & Vikramshila, universities, where talent and skill was given a free rein and thereby flourished art, architecture, painting, logic, mathematics, philosophy, literature, religion, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), law, theology, astronomy, metaphysics, and ethics. Our country needs no external successes to be proud of; we are capable of bringing about a revolution and changing the face of the world.

Nazia Nad

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emagic/56206868/]