Right from the beginning of school, it is fed into us, the importance of performing well in our X boards. Our performance in these exams and the stream we choose as a consequence pretty much define what we do with the rest of our lives. Once we’ve chosen our subjects, if you happen to have Science like I did, the focus is on the boards in XII and juggling that with the intensive syllabus of the various coaching institutes to make us crack the IIT or the AIMS exams. We conveniently forget the fact that most students cannot clearly decide the course of the rest of their lives on the basis of whatever little they know about Physics, Chemistry or Biology learnt in school. Oh and peer and parental pressure on the student is immense during the crucial decision making years.
Every year we see the cutoffs for even 3 year degree courses soaring higher, and the competition for a seat in the engineering/medical colleges get fiercer. What results is unhealthy stress for both the parents and children, increased disappointment amongst those who aren’t at the top rung of the ladder.
What we need is to separate the elementary from the advanced, the basic from the electives. I’d speak for a lot of my friends when I say that I do not recall a single “naming reaction” from Organic Chemistry or any of major laws of Optics which I had supposedly learnt by heart while preparing for the exam that qualified me to be pursuing my degree in Computer Science. On the contrary when I look at the school system abroad, say in the USA, the students have a wide array of standard and honour subjects to choose from in early grades which help in specialization later in their careers. When I graduate along with a hundred thousand others of my like in 2009, I will just be another fresh engineer with no special skills to boast off and therefore I need to work extra hard to get noticed by adding things to my skill set.
No wonder students in India are known to be hardworking and extremely dedicated. But we need to be working smart instead of hard to get ahead and that’s where the difference needs to be made. I’d say education is something that we not only learn, but we imbibe and apply it in life and therefore we need to focus on the practical aspect of what we’re taught in our formative years.