Sunday, March 18, 2012

Education & India: Part 1 of 2

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.

I’m a student and I have problems with the education that is supposedly ‘imparted’ to me. That’s where this post begins from and that’s also where the part 2 of this post will end.

There’s a reason I chose ‘Education “&” India’ instead of what should have been ‘Education “in” India’. It being the same reason that we can’t and don’t produce enough talent, educated talent. There is no education in India. It’s a myth. And whatever is, is the word education & its association with India. Thus, the title.

I remember my kindergarten and primary school days. Everyday, I used to be more than eager to attend school. Not because of my friends, teachers or to study. (Or may be it was one of them, I was too little then to remember anything about it now.) One of the reasons being, like most others of my age, who were in other schools from mine, I didn’t have the worry of appearing in exams and performing poorly, at an age when I barely even understood what ‘competition’ meant.

Having come a good 8-10 years since that point, having come through secondary school, junior college and studying in an engineering college today, most the facts, myths and so-called-beliefs about education in India, are busted to me, and these are undeniable (of course, a few exceptions).
  1. Education is a business. A business, like none other. And a bountiful one, for that matter.
  2. The quality of education, depends on the fees of the school or college you are in, nothing else.
  3. There’s nothing really to ‘learn’ or ‘understand’. You rote, mug up, puke it out in your exam papers, get the marks, go to a good college/university, repeat the previous steps, get a job.
  4. You don’t have a heart. You don’t have a life. You have just competition to face. And that too, a fierce one.
  5. You may lose your admission to someone less deserving, but from a backward class. So, if you’re a student from the general category, you have to hate those who are not.
These are the things that are understood, told to, perceived, and accepted by everyone who is a student in any part of India right now (Please don’t shower me with exceptions right now, please?). The point is, everything that I’ve said above, is just the gist of the things I have understood in the last few years.

We make robots, not students or humans, in packs of thousands and thousands. Those who compete for every mark they can get, in every exam they ever give. We can’t think out of the box because our education cripples us to think in one line. Every time we think outside those boundaries, we are losing out on our marks, our parents are on our backs to score, and then we’re back on track to the end of the manufacturing line, till the end, again.

And then we’re proud in saying that NASA, Intel, Microsoft, Google, doctors in USA, etc. are Indians. Ivy League colleges have Indian deans. Heads of MNCs are Indians. Did they study in India? And did they ever say that solely their study in India made them their life in USA? Or any country of the world, for that matter? Why do educated (and/0r) wealthy Indians send their children abroad for studies?

Simple.

We all, each one of us who is alive in this country, knows that the education system of the country is something we are not and can’t be proud of. And if we are, we are just fooling ourselves, truly.

And, no matter how much we talk about changing it, it’s not changing. Just not.

They say, Bollywood does what anything else can’t. For the latest, polio was eradicated completely after Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Do Boond Zindagi Ke’ campaign (applauds), and there are numerous other examples which each one of us knows about. In fact, the reason India changes, is when Bollywood calls it to. And even after having our eyes soar of crying while watching ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and laughing till our stomach hurts, while watching ’3 Idiots’, we didn’t particularly learn anything from either.

Or may be we did, but did we apply it to our lives? We are happy and when we’re out of the theatres, that’s it? There goes our desire to study and make our children study (for those who are, or will be parents) in a better and more sensible environment?! Just like that?

Well, for anyone else it may. For me, it doesn’t. For Not Just The Talks., it doesn’t. I’m tired, really tired of not doing anything. And I am going to. From now, and I will keep doing, for everything that I say on this blog that I will.
In this 2 part blogpost, I’m going to cover a few things that are my real concern with the education system in India. In part 1, I will talk about the over-all situation of education in India (a lot of which I already did) and then about the school-specific problems and reforms I think are the need-of-the-hour. In part 2, it will be a broad go from colleges (junior, graduate and PG) to reservation.

Also, I had designed what ‘My Dream School’ should/would be like, describing it with every minute detail, 2 years ago. I will put that up on my personal blog, after these 2 posts.

And so, to part 1...

The first thing that we need to bust, for every entrepreneur, coaching class owners and teachers and politician who enters the education sector with a view to exploit, earn, and be seen noble. Well, it is not a diamond-mine, you retards. We’re humans, children. Innocent, delicate, culpable, and we’re impressionable.

But, at the same time, we are not stupid, mindless or unaware to not see what you do! Enough said.

It hurts to see such things happen, mostly in colleges, and I’ll talk about it in detail in my next post.

Then comes my other major concern, the quality and techniques of education. They say, those who fail at everything else, teach in India. Seems pretty true with the quality of teachers I have seen in my post-school life (even in coaching classes). Techniques, well, rote learning never had me backing it. I always was the guy who understood every concept and wrote them down in his words. Still am. And will always be. But, I think over such theoretical studies (which is primitive and the portion is worn out, not in-sync with the current scenario of the world), practical knowledge, applications, logic, and promoting these, should be emphasized.

We live in a digital world. I know that digitization hasn’t penetrated so deep in the Indian cities yet (let alone villages), but, using technology and internet to our benefits, is the only way forward. Not being slaves to them, but, making them our media to communicate and ease our lives, yes. I would want to say do away with paper stationary completely and go digital! But, that’d be utopian and nonsensical. Reducing it, by a major, would do the trick to begin with.

Next up, the competition we are faced with. The forceful studying. Why should I study physics when I know I don’t want to be a physicist or even an engineer? What if I know I want to go medical? Or musician, actor, director, author, archeologist, sportsperson? Who deserves to make that choice if not me? Of what I do with my life? And that’s what we need. The ability to choose our lives, through what we are good at, over what we can force ourselves to be good at.

Coming to the last part of this post. Schools.

Kindergarten. The most expensive and weird business I have observed. Utterly unnecessary expenditures. People coughing up sums of money to get their kids into some XYZ K.G. where he/she’s just gonna play?! Interviews of a 4-year kid for giving him/her admission? I think that’s the lowest our society can (and more so I hope, should) fall to.

Well, I think where I studied, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya, has left pretty good an impression on me about the no-exams-till-sixth-grade thing. Let your children enjoy life till they are 10 or 11, parents! Let them play, laugh, dance, sing, and be happy. Why burden them with studies till then? Why bombard them with the pressure to score?

Although, at the same time, teaching them their very well basics and building their blocks, for the future.

Marks for everything co- and extra-curricular. You have the right to get recognition for something exceptional that you do in the fields which are not related to academics in any way. But, they’re still very important. You have that right. And that should be given to us. That develops a student, in all the aspects of his personality, and not just as a popping parrot who would answer your questions, in the words of the text-books.

That’s pretty much it for now… Part 2 is gonna be much more hard-hitting and intense, I promise.

Till then, adios!

Update (02-04-2012): The part 2 of this post is up here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's not just India. It's the world. KONY 2012.

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.

As Indians, we know how it is like to live in a diverse country. And thus, it's easier for us to multiply those daily culturally different experiences by 7 so that we can somewhat figure out what the situation of the 7 billion people alive in the world we live in, and their diversity, is. Or, may be we can't imagine.

Africa. The first thing that comes to our minds (all of our minds) when the name of this continent strikes, is that it is a third-world continent. Not a country, a continent. We have come to generalize Africa as a third world continent, as almost all of its countries are such.

Having said that, the second thing that pops into my mind (not sure about anyone else) is the way the people live over there. Since the advent of imperialism, the African people have suffered to the hands of their European, American, Australian and Asian colonizers. And wars (inter-country and intra-country both), have always been existent in the whole continent for power, control and most of all, resources.

Coal, mineral oil, silver, gold, diamond. Every single time, the same old story. No difference. Some random army guy with a lust for power and money, turns a rebel. Kills people without a reason, kidnaps kids from villages and tribes. Turns guys into his soldier and girls into sex workers. Millions are killed, everytime a civilian war has begun in the continent. Every (literally) bloody single time.

Movies like Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda, The Last King Of Scotland, among others, have shown us what the situation of the people there is, truly. And, those blood-smeared faces and bodies, those sad-but-hopeful eyes, those acts of cruelty, everything, is something I can't forget.

One thing that has been common, in all these movies is that they depicted a phase of revolution, instability that was. Not existent in the current world scenario. But, it always frightens me, what if it was real, even today? And well, we know for sure, it is. Just that we want to close our eyes to it.
Now comes the sad part. The world doesn't even know, most of the times. We see a 2-minute coverage of such situations in our daily prime-time news, every once in a while, we get sad, we speak foul about the people doing it, and then we're back to doing what we were doing. That's it! That's all we have done all along.

Not anymore. Not anymore for at least me or the other bloggers posting for NJTT.

KONY 2012
KONY 2012
Enough is enough, and this carnage has to stop.
 

I saw this video a few days ago, and then sent a personal message to 50 of my Facebook friends (the most influential of the lot), to share it, as much as they could. And truly, I'm saddened by the lack of response. I posted it myself on multiple groups, pages, etc. And there has none or barely any activity. Right now, I hope that changes.

So, what is KONY 2012? What the freaking hell is this all about?
Joseph Kony is a thug, simply said. Grown into power in one such struggles (as described earlier), he is a military dictator who has done many a wrong-doings that he deserves to be punished for. He holds the 1st spot (much above Saddam Hussain, bin Laden and others) in the world's top criminals list (since the first edition of the list), let out by International Criminal Court, for his crimes in Uganda and has never been caught, till date. Till date.

That's the important part. And that's what you must watch the video for. To find out how to get through this 'till date' part. It is a long video (30 minutes). But trust me, it'll be a well spent 30 minutes of your life.

'Not Just The Talks.' began as a platform to speak and bring about change within India, and for the people of this country. But, we at NJTT feel that if any such movement needs our support, we won't shy for it. It's for the humanity, for our brothers and sisters, the world over. And thus, today, I myself, Pratik and Raj, support this cause fully and will do as the video demands, when it demands. Kony has to be brought to justice, and we hope he will be, too.

Make sure you watch the video, I repeat, for the nth time probably.
As the little girl says before Michael Jackson's 'Heal The World' song, 'I think about the generations, and they say they want to make it a better place for our children and our children's children. So that they they they know it's a better world for them and I think they can make it a better place.'

So can we.

Let's make this world a better place.

Peace.

(Before posting this, I have read a few articles that talk against this whole movement like this and this. But, I also have read, and would want you to read this before raising any fingers against this movement. We support it, we absolutely don't endorse it.)

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