Exploring the road less travelled

In an earlier era, children were expected to follow the learning and profession adopted by the family. When education became institutionalised by the British, most good students were goaded to become professional lawyers as it spelled a lucrative turnover. DH file photo

The lakhs of students who have cleared their Class 10, Class 12 and pre-university courses from various state boards, ICSE and CBSE streams are presently on the threshold of their future. Some of them have clear-cut ideas on how to chart the next course of action. Then there are others who find themselves led by their noses to choose the course they will pursue.

Such a situation reflects the mental landscape of the average Indian student, no matter to which class of society, religion or financial bracket s/he may belong to. Indians as a race feel very secure when they try “the road well travelled” as there is little or no risk involved. Moreover, they also attach a lot of importance to the assured financial security that certain jobs offer.

Keener observation reveals that issues have not undergone even an iota of change over a couple of centuries. The value of each course has been determined on the basis of what the possible returns could be in terms of monetary benefit and social status.

In an earlier era, children were expected to follow the learning and profession adopted by the family. When education became institutionalised by the British, most good students were goaded to become professional lawyers as it spelled a lucrative turnover.

When we became independent, science courses in professional arenas became the crowning glory of an excellent student. Though the emphasis has been on different courses over the decades, the basic idea behind selecting the course has invariably been the same.

The income factor happens to be only one side of the coin. The academic calibre of a person is determined by the discipline of study the student opts for. Personal inclination and core competency for studying the subject appear to be of little or no interest to the general public. What the candidate ends up doing in life is of no consequence as long as he opts for a course that steps up his standing in the society.

It is an unwritten and unquestioned decree for students scoring high marks to be absorbed into the science stream by colleges impervious to whether the student has the aptitude for the subject.

The cream of toppers opts for professional courses like medical or engineering leaving their “lesser” brethren to take up under graduate courses in pure sciences, commerce and arts precisely in that order. This practice has almost become a tradition in our educational system much to the chagrin of the serious students who have opted a particular course out of interest.

Many misfits

Though many youngsters are able to effectively put their foot down and surmount the obstacles that come in the way of choosing their favorite course, not everyone succeeds. That is the reason we find a lot of educated people to be thorough misfits in their vocation.

Many post graduates in subjects like Physics or Chemistry have settled down as bank managers or have found themselves plush jobs in the corporate sector as administrative staff because the remuneration is high. There are several doctors who have cleared their course in more than a few attempts working as medical transcriptionists because the package is incomparable.

When one tries to understand the underlying psyche of the Indian masses, the apparent reverence towards education and its innumerable virtues appears to be a shameful sham.

Education has come a long way from its original objective — an abstract wealth which will stand in good stead to its possessor through the thick and thin of his life. Perhaps, that is the reason why we find that by and large most people were literate in the past and had a fairly good idea of the rudiments of language and mathematics.

Scholars wrote well-researched treatises on a plethora of subjects at great length. Somewhere along the line, Indians shied away from taking “the road less travelled”, causing a widespread stagnation in the field of education. It is certain that the future of variegated education lies in the hands of the present batch of Class 10 students who are standing at the crossroads of their lives with latent dreams, thoughts and ideas.

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Exploring the road less travelled

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