Young and overloaded

Opinion Multiple problems plague the education system, says Anju Periwal, starting with the increased burden on students

Young and overloaded

The actual goal of education is broadening and enlightening of young minds, inculcation of scientific temper and imbibing students with strong moral values. But look at the current education system. Can you see it achieving such lofty ideals?

Let us first look at the school cycle. The day a kid is conceived, prospective parents start looking for a school. By the time he/she is born, parents have admission forms in their hands. Even before crossing infancy, the child is pushed into tuition classes to get groomed for the looming interview for admission to nursery. Then starts the worry about board exams, 12-13 years away.

Despite numerous studies showing that till the age of 5-6, the best learning environment is home, and that one shouldn’t be forced to write, we see the opposite happening. It harms their long-term growth. But who will listen? In this mad race, no one wants to be left behind. Which school will admit kids at age of 5-6 for the first time?

In such a scenario, where is there time to look around, observe, play and develop the so-called scientific temper? Education is no longer a journey where you discover new things every day, enjoy the moments of discovery, and proceed. It is all about marks. If you don’t get near perfect marks, the whole journey is considered a waste of time. A kid may have a great talent for dancing, singing, playing games, or something else but who will nurture it? If one doesn’t excel in studies, he/she doesn’t get a chance to showcase his/her talent.

Some schools have tests every week, some every month, and some decide to hold 3-4 tests in a day – all in a bid to prepare them to handle pressure during the ‘ultimate board exams’. In the process they are lowering the child’s self-esteem, killing his spirit, and turning education into a big burden. Tests are not there for teachers to fine-tune their teaching methodology. They have become the beating stick to keep the students quiet and docile. Moreover, with tests/exams at every corner, learning takes the back seat, with completing portions becoming the only objective. Teachers, who take 10-15 days to complete a chapter at the beginning of the session, finish two chapters a day towards the end.

When my daughter moved from LKG to UKG, the LKG teacher had only taught vowels a, e, i. But the UKG teacher refused to teach the remaining “vowels” as then she wouldn’t have time to teach her portions. If this is the scenario at lower levels, what one can expect at the higher levels?

Heavy school bags
Next look at the school bags. They have turned kids into beast of burden. The common notion is more the books, better is the school. Solutions are not difficult to find but the willpower has to be there.

Now examine the case of libraries. Many schools don’t even have one. And, most of those having one, have it for the sole aim of collection of more money. How many teachers are there who encourage students to read books on different subjects? If the library fee collected every year is actually spent on books, each class can have a library of its own.

Many of you must have come across lab work without students visiting the labs or seeing any experiments being done. They are asked to copy the experiment from book to class-work copy to lab manual and the formality is over. And since lab manuals have been filled up, there has to be fee for labs!

Then comes our colonial mindset, which forces us to have two months long summer vacations. Why not have 15-day vacations around few major festivals of India, so that people can celebrate them with family and friends? This becomes even more important with the current scenario of nuclear families. Fifteen days can be marked down for extreme weather conditions and a few for national holidays.

Lastly, I would like to mention the donation menace. Government should bring out an ordinance, which makes it compulsory to make all payments to school by cheque. All fee related information should be displayed on notice board. Regular raids will take care of the rest. If schools violate the rules, after couple of warnings, the school should be taken over by the government.

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