Closed dogmatic approach must be replaced with new open education system which imparts knowledge

By Sheshu Babu

"Education is the simply the soul of society as it passes from one generation to another"
G. K. Chesterton

T. S. Eliot started his 'Wasteland' saying "April is the cruelest month..." ( 1. The burial of the dead). But, for the students from KG to PG, the 'cruelest month' starts in March itself. They have to not only prepare for the exams, but also be prepared to rewrite exam in the event of paper leak. This has become a common feature in India where even All India examinations which recruit employees for jobs have been leaked and the officials are left with impunity.
The whole exercise of examination, thus, becomes a commercial business market for making money. Even after exams are held, the student waits with scepticism as system of evaluation is not transparent and trust worthy. While those who write well have often been failed, some who do not write well receive higher grades. There is little transparency and those who opt for taking re- evaluation have to pay heavy fee for their paper re-correction.

Examination and intelligence

The present system is heavily dependent on exam results. One exam has the potential of measuring success. The chances of bright future depend on ' merit' measured by marks obtained. Thus, one has to be ' lucky' to get good marks. This is a lopsided evaluation of a student because his/ her performance on the particular day depends upon many factors, both internal and external. The person taking exam may suffer from il-health or depressed due to uncomfortable family conditions. Also, lack of transport may affect the performance. Sometimes, the question papers have wrong queries or out-of -syllabus questions. These make evaluation complicated.

Cut- off from reality

As Mao said, (On Education - conversation with Napalese Delegation of Educationists - 1964) " Our education is fraught with problems, the most prominent is dogmatism" and further said, "... The school years are too long, courses too many and various methods of teaching unsatisfactory. The children learn textbooks and concepts which remain ( merely) textbooks and concepts: they know nothing else..." The method of teaching is by injection and not through imagination.
Indian problem is no different than Chinese educational system. Right from pre- primary schools, the main concentration is on all India exams - whether engineering or medicine. There is rote learning and mugging up in every class. The studies of science subjects are far from practical application. Humanities are cut off from reality. Students are taught theory. They do not study people and their problems. This theoretical knowledge does not help in solving realistic problems.

Alternative system

Education must be able to drive students towards solving the problems of masses. The present system is suitable to cater to the service of few elite industrialists. While science, engineering and management graduates are running to take employment with big firms, there are no takers for the subjects like arts, literature or history. The overwhelming competition to study in prestigious colleges is leading to tension among students and a few corporate colleges are 'cashing -in' on student weak points. Papers are being leaked out and sold at huge prices.
This examination system must be reviewed. A holistic system which does not consider one day exam as a means of choosing higher studies must be developed. As Mao said, " ....the class struggle is your most important subject, and it is a compulsory subject" (Talks with Mao Yuan Hsin, July 5, 1964). Thus, political education is crucial for a student to work for masses.
Exams must be educative. They should test practical questions than theoretical ones. An evaluation of a student must consider grasp of concrete problems and creativity rather than grades and marks. Everyone should be allowed to study what he/ she likes with scientifically designed syllabus.
The young generation should be able to serve people rather than a few bourgeoisie elite and industrial tycoons. Earning money has become the sole objective of education and exams have become a means of earning wealth. Students knowledge is being evaluated by the 'correctness' and 'perfectness' in exams and not the ability to serve poor or proletariat and problems related to day- to-day life.
Present closed dogmatic approach must be dispensed with and a new open education system which imparts knowledge, assists in creativity and makes students feel relaxed and elated should be introduced.