Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Principal Ponders...once again !

Probably I support the reform for cancellation of board exams in X only
Because my concern is on the emotional dynamics of students
• Because the purpose of basic education program is lost in the race for higher marks.
• And majorly because of the meaningless examination system that we have in our country.

Demand & Supply
I am not pessimistic to say that the entire system is hopeless. If we have gained the image as ‘a pool of skilled people in IT’, it is only because our system accommodated for it. I appreciate our proactive system that enhanced the image of Indian suitability for employment in US. But the problem also started from that image. Every student and parent wanted that image. The demand for that image has been answered with a supply.

The Great Indian Hype for %
The hype for percentages and the scramble for seats in professional or degree colleges is only because we have few quality institutions and too many aspirants. The institutions too, resort to some selection criteria as they cannot accommodate everybody.
In case of degree colleges higher percentages in intermediate or Grade 12 is the criteria but in case of engineering colleges the race is endless. While preparing for 12th boards they have to prepare for entrance exams too that would follow soon after the boards. BITSAT EAMCET IIIT FIITJEE AI IIIT ......the list has many more!
Thus started the game of backward integration
 Entrance exams
 Higher percentages in qualifying exams
 Followed by institutions that offered coaching for these entrance exams.
It is like a mafia that has been encouraged unknowingly by govt and public alike. Neither the education ministry nor the educated public saw the imminent downfall of education in this plague like disease. People demanded for percentages and the coaching centres supplied!

Dollar Doors and Dollar Dreams
If in Europe, Industrial revolution helped many common people to prosper, in India, IT revolution helped the lower middle class and middle class to prosper through skill based qualifications in IT.
The IT boom blinded people with dollar dreams so much that they have lost their far sight.
Demand and supply syndrome is to be remembered here.

US demanded US supplied and Indians applied!
US universities opened seats for outsiders because it helped their economy. They have set up quality universities with competent faculty but the admission from local American students into universities was not proportionate to their expectations.
So they threw open the universities for foreign students with amendments in their VISA procedures. Foreign students paying huge amounts and studying there is good revenue resource for US.

Vis-a-Vis in India we have few IITs and RECs and fewer engineering colleges that can offer quality education. Too many students and too few seats! The mushrooming engineering colleges may have been a quantity answer but not a quality answer. Growing numbers of young population began to aspire only for engineering courses, preferably in IT as it promised a rosy altar.

Anybody and everybody who can afford it can get a seat in US universities as they (US) want more numbers to join there for their own revenue. Merit is not a great criteria and I wonder if anyone has noticed that they have even relaxed the rule of 5 years of formal graduation course to 4 years as in India we have only 4 yr engineering course. How accommodative!

A student who toils day and night to get into engineering college and a student who has grossly lesser academic record than him...both are on the same flight to US.

“For all you may know, the student who studied the world along with his course is better placed than a student who studied only his course and seen nothing else”.

The parents did not mind pledging their entire life savings for getting their child into coaching for entrance into engineering, followed by engineering and then followed by MS in US. Because the loans can be re-paid once they begin to earn in dollars!

Coincidentally the IT boom in US needed skilled labour in large numbers. Indians largely fitted the bill because of English advantage (thanks to Macaulay) and the ability to sit for long hours and replicate the codes (thanks to long hours spent in schools and colleges and also exams that question rote). So all those Indians who paid for their education in US through hefty loans were able to get jobs in US and earn in dollars.

US firms hired them because hiring local talent is expensive plus there are not that many locals coming into university levels.

They have a demand that could not be supplied locally! Moreover the local supply would charge more than an Indian supply!

The US demanded and the US supplied.
35% corporate tax charged in US made the MNCs run to other countries for setting up their shop. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand etc offered subsidies, infrastructure and cheap labour. Manufacturing costs have gone down and profits have gone up.
As Indians are English speaking labourers and reasonably educated, Business Processing Outfits for those MNCs manufacturing in the far east and selling in Europe or America, we supply the customer service online ! Good, another prospect of quick employment without much ado!
They created the demand and we provided the supply.

No longer the Big Brother!
Lehmann issue or the subprime issue...recession hit US and the supply began to slow down. Supply of jobs is low, supply of dollar currency is low - but not the supply of seats in universities nor the demand for seats from Indians!
They are ready to give us seats and qualifications, but jobs...I doubt. Moreover the outcry of local lobbies in US against the outsourcing of jobs is working against us. Obama is yet to think of any measures that would uplift their weak economic position.
It will take some more years before US assumes the big brother role - if it is not already taken by China or India.

What will happen to all those aspirants getting trained to open the dollar doors who are in coaching centres, colleges, or universities whose investment is for return in dollars?

Where will they get employment? US, China or India? I doubt if the old silk route to China will be re-opened! China has enough of its own clan to contain foreigners. India? May be! US...a looong time!

Guess we need to open the doors of our dreams in different directions now. The road well travelled is too worn out...maybe we should take the road less travelled!


Kavita Kiran said...

My sister's son is studying in your school.She reads your blog everyday and today she askd me read this article.
Madam I like the way you conencted the IT growth and demand for IT courses.I am one of the victims of this demand and supply, as you mentioned. We sent a lot of money on my coaching engineering,hostel.We cannot take any more loans for MS.I am working as a part time lecturer with 15500 as my monthly salary.I dont think I can help my father much in repaying the loan he took for my he has to spend on my marriage also. I feel sad that I made him spend so much on me. I hope people will see my example and take right steps.

usha kannuri said...

Maam I asked my sister to read your article because it touched my heart when i read it. I remebr how my father ran around for loans to pay for her college seat.She worked very hard but she got 14534 rank in EAMCET and she got a seat in a rural colege.We didnt want to send her so we paid more to join her in city college.she stayed in paying guest hostel because our house is very far from the father is still aying for that loan.I want everyone to know that joining coaching and enginerng is not everythng.there are so many other profesions students should take up.
thankyou for writing this.I will ask my father also to read this.

Ranga Suman Kondamuri said...

The existing Exam System of marks and percentages must be dismantled for classes of 10,10+1 and 10+2 and "Grading System" can be introduced. The students start learning and orient themselves to future "Entrance and Competitive Exams" during this period. The Schools can play a vital role in giving useful feedback to parents about the merits , interests and attitudes of their wards . This help them to choose a suitable career. Hence Career Guidance of students may become an important aspect. The Govt should also play its role in publishing regularly the data on job requirements in different fields. Its not only "Engineering" and "Medical" , there are several other fields to choose from .
With due respects to our ailing Big Brother(USA) and Powerful neighbour(China) , India will become a "Dream Land" for many in future.

Revathi said...

Once again i agree with you ma'm.
I always prefer the road not taken because I wan't to be different from others.
Yes, I do agree that India needs a revision in the education system but totally not eradicate the system of exams.
US was the super natural power in the world - or the BIG BROTHER. It was...but not now. Whatever, The situation is not the same always - it differs.I DO HOPE us will grow to its own heights as the world is dependent on it.

Rama rao V said...

I think the information on alternate options in careers and the prospects of these careers need to be more published than the ranks of eamcet holders and iit exams.only then people will become aware of the opportunities.its not like the olden days that there are only one or two courses.

Ajay Saxena said...

for evryone there is a job. the aptitude of the person makes him earn his job. but the problem is that everyone wants the same job.that many people are needed for the same job. people are blind not to see the take a road that is less taken,people should have the courage.
I hope that people will learn to have courage and take the road less travelled. Ofcourse once that is a well travelled road, the next lot of courageous peopple should take another new road. life goes on like that new paths are found like this only.
if columbus had not taken the route that was never travelled,
what would have hapened?

Shankar K California said...

I have been following your blog after my friend told me about it.His daughter is in your school and he has complete admiration for your school and the traditions.I was very curious.
i must congratulate you for the opinions you express and the strength you show in your words.
I am glad that there are so many young children in your guidance taking the right direction.Keep up the show good maam.when I return to India I will join my son in your school.I may try to come back only to join my son in your school.
salute to you maam!

you know who.. said...

SEETHA when do you get the time for all this? in the 'roller coaster ride' (I am quoting your own words) you are in,when do you find time to gather your thoughts and compile them? awesome friend, simply awesome.
I know that you love the speed and the pace you have set for yourself.Though older than you, i am begining to look up to you as my role model.

Jaya said...

awesome! Brain storming....
Your articles are making our minds to think a lot..
We are into your aura of posiitiveness and your ideas and emotions... but eventhen we feel we need to change a lot.. our mind set needs a drastic CHANGE...
As you said .. YES.. when the attitudes change, when the examination patterns change, when there is a correct definition, significance for the examination system then there is a purpose that a student can see to and take the examination. His focus will then be put in the right way...
We all know that change is evevitable.. We are motivating our team in the right direction... This should go into the soceity also... their conventional thinking should change... the comments for your blog says that the change has started...

Unknown said...

Hi Seetha,
As an educator,I fully agree with you.Education must be enjoyed,students must not be in stress.
By joining the rat race,today one has forgotten all natural skills.At the end of the race,even if one is succesful,it must be remembered that one continues to be a rat.!!!!!!
There will be many more Einsteins and Edisons and Newtons when education is not forced!!Besides students will learn to become responsible by making choices and learning to live by their decisions.This will help them to understand life situations better,besides they will be good human beings.
Surely, the youth of US will someday begin to work acoording to our biological clock at the way supply and demand stands today provided the population of India is taken care of.
Congrats on your writing your views.It has kindered many people to think.
Your Friend,
Lakshmi Krishnan,
Kaushalya Global The Complete School.

vidya said...

Hello sita ma'am
All your posts are awesome and informative.
This reformation of cancelling board exams would definitely stop the further commericialization of education.

But I feel just cancellation will never solve the problem. Both parents and children must be educated or guided to mould the careers.

- Regards,

Bhavana said...

Helo maam
this time your write up on openings in US and the changing trends are very mind boggling.I like your knowledge and ideas. I am making all my family members read your blog.before this I used to sit and waste time in orkut and I open the internet to see your blog.I read all the old posts repeatedly.Everytime i read them I find new meanings in them.I just love the way you write.Maam please keep doing this.

Rakesh Kumar R said...

Is it true that US universities give admission to anybody and evrybody? I always thougt that they care more for marks and merit.I realised that it is more business for them. Thanks for writing this point maam.It has changed the way I look at higher studies now.I am more clear about what education means.

ravali said...

i agree with u ma'am.
yes ma'am there must be a change in Indian educational system. this doesn't mean that totally eradicate exams, but only change the pattern of education. i always believe that, "money can be stolen
property can be stolen
but knowledge which we conquer can never be stolen by any one or any thing."
US was a BIG BROTHER but at present it is not. things keep changing time to time and we people must adjust with the change...
change is needed..routine is boring always.
ma'am thanks ma'am your blog is informative and interesting too.
thank u

Suma Athri said...

HI Seetha

Atlast! I am back on net!!!
Wow!! u r simply superb! Its nicely put up and lets hope the system starts working.

Malyadri said...

Dear ambassador of young hearts,

I feel its time all the 'tripartite architects of a child's life-the parents, the child itself and the schools- give a serious thinking over the matter. i do agree that the schools are using the ranks and the percentages as their bait and the top scorers as their models for their publicity. The ranks are ISO 9000 certificates perhaps more valued than the affiliation from the boards themselves. But it is the education system which is to be corrected. how can a child of just fifteen be trained and educated to perform according to the expectations of a "board" (group of individuals)? that too within the limitations of words, marks and time? the present examination pattern tests how loaded a child's brain is not how much understanding he has acquired over the world around him. as a teacher and a mother i experience excrutiating pain when i have to spend more time in preparing a child for the exams conducted by someone rather than in preparing him to conduct his life well with his attitudes skills and understanding.

With the growing demand for certain courses , entrance exams are unavoidable but these tests are based on rote learning again. What are we assessing by testing whether a child knows the theory of relativity or not? what relativity does it have to test a child’s success or potential? Even before they could understand the relativity between the exams and life as a whole? It is the amount of theorums , principles of science and math stored in the memory that is tested.

It is again the concern of the parents, their stress and the demanding situation which force the parents to goad a child towards perfection ( they do know within the layers of their hearts that this is not perfection). Is it not the system which forces a parent to confine their loving child to a study room? To ignore the child’s longing for freedom? As long as a child’s comfortable future is assured only through entrance exams and the resulting seats in a reputed colleges, as long as an employee looks for a candidate with high quality certificates and experience, the trauma continues…. If the SSC syllabus is considered better than CBSE, It is because the exam pattern, the learning strategies and the approach they follow in tenth works well in preparing them for the intermediate level syllabus or the entrance exams. ( most of the inter syllabus is connected with the ssc Xth syllabus and their tenth exams are mostly based on objective papers like the entrance exam papers). The child isn’t tested for knowledge teaching the child the art of living.

The parents aren’t misguided . It is the system which is misguiding the children towards a future by testing the quantity stored in their hardware(brains) . let’s stop the so-called educators in the corporate schools from turning our children into mere CDs which are inserted into a drive of our choice only to extract the information ‘we ‘ need. I appreciate you for the grit , concern, and the courage that made you take the very first step and all the other steps that followed.

Today I am a contended parent …………………

Thanks . I join u in your battle….

Akhila sagar

Malyadri said...

Dear madam,
you have taken up a topic which touches all the aspects of every indian today - the great american image.we are born in a country where the world's first university was establised educating more than 10,500 students from all over the world in more than 60 subjects.but today we are chasing a wild goose believing that it is the destination of our life. We have come to a point that if there is a destination in the journey of life , it is in america. ( a point of moksha?) we have arrived at such a juncture that we assess a student's potential from either his entry into engineering colleges or his student visa to far-away lands. i personally feel that this is a result of a pair of paradoxical drive in human life.that is certainity and uncertainity, individuality and connectedness. we all want certainity. we strive to achieve cetainity by doing everything we can . we try to control everything around us to reach this level of certainity in life. The entry into ‘certain’ courses or foreign universities is believed to provide a certainity to our careers. I feel that this is the fundamental reason behind india hurling its young brains into the whirlpool of entrance exams, suicidal tendencies, peer pressures and a chase after dollar producing studies.we are individuals who are connected to each other. We want to feel significant. We need identity.this desire to feel significant force us to choose the so-called glorious path. We join a fraternity of the ‘elite’ club by becoming an IITian or an NRI student in US.but this certainity of a huge savings and image, leads to a boredom . there is no challenge, no variety, no fulfillment, no true purpose and no way to feel completely alive.
So this shift in attitude and realization of the true ‘kick in life should happen today to clear away all the ‘lesson planning’ that we do. By the time the lessons of life teach the Indians who toggle between the cetainity and uncertainity, accumulation and accommodation , individuality and connectedness, that we they are standing under a mango tree and expecting oranges from it, the brain is already drained!
Hope we realisethat we cannot wake up smiling in the morning unless we do what ‘we’ want to do in life. And we certainly do not want to become money making machines!
Akila sagar