Featured Artwork: Neil Webb
I finished my formal schooling in Computer Engineering last December. I was one of the lucky ones to have found a job within a month of my graduation. I felt thrilled to have secured the title of my desire within a short period of time. I was delighted as I had proved my worth to the male-dominating community that I come from, and my ability to succeed in a so-called “male dominating profession.” I thought I was on the way of achieving everything on the checklist, the one which is made for each one of us by the society we reside in: no tailoring, no customization, just a standard big list.
In my culture, this checklist is prepared the day we are born, and it specifies all the tasks an individual is bound to perform until the day they die. It includes duties like completing school, securing a job, getting married, having babies, retiring, and enjoying your life savings — all by a certain age and within a certain time frame. I thought my happiness would last as I had everything in the book’s definition of being happy. I had acquired everything on the checklist designated for my age group.
However, this happiness of mine faded away sooner than later as I found myself struggling with my job and my profession. I understood that I did not enjoy it as much as they said I would. I am not complaining that I am in the wrong domain altogether, but this situation is not topping the list of my favorite cases — it might be a third or a fourth. The position encouraged me to reassess myself, my desires, my talent, and the checklist. It was during this period that I recalled a time when I was a child, and when asked about my favorite profession, I would innocently say, a singer. Eventually, I grew up and learned to change my answer as the world would have liked to hear. I saw my Spotify, which has almost seven-hundred songs of different genres, from different countries, languages, and artists — Courtesy, Coke Studio Pakistan, and especially a song called ‘tinak dhin’ by some of my most loved artists, Ali Hamza, Ali Sethi, and Waqar Ehsin. I could perceive the vibe of good music. It occurred to me that I feel and have always felt the most alive while I am in front of the mic, singing a song. I guess the two-hundred some song recordings on my phone could support that sentiment. I had acknowledged my calling, but the problem was the non-occurrence of this specific profession on the checklist.
In my culture, a person is not only judged to be unsuccessful, but any chances of their future success are also overlooked if something goes wrong on their list. A tricky situation like this drove me back to rethink the very basics of my perception of a successful career, which I had first learned in my school. In my school, to be particular, and the Indian education system in general.
The education system in India is no different than the culture. It is instead an extension of it.
The education system in India has been unable to keep up with the increasing demands of a relatively fast-paced society. Every year the exam season witnesses an overwhelming number of students graduating with marks in the nineties and hundreds; however, the real-world implementation of this knowledge is nowhere to be seen. Human resources are utilized in all the significant departments of a country, whether it be health, politics, education, sports, or media. The poor service quality in all these sectors in the nation is not able to justify the nineties and the hundreds on paper. It is quite evident that the education system in India is struggling to produce well-aware citizens with minds trained to think in a certain way. Intelligence can no longer be displayed by looking at one’s marks, and that is indeed a significant concern.
The story of education always starts with schools. Schools in India are very problematic at multiple levels. To begin with, both primary and secondary schools in India focus on grades more than anything. Every student is taught to acquire high grades as it is going to be their only gateway to having a successful life. Marks are described as the sole criteria for deciding an individual’s worth. It is great to encourage students to score better marks; however, this becomes an issue when some subjects like science, mathematics, and engineering are valued more than the others — the reason being an individual’s ability to score ampler marks in these disciplines because of the objectivity of the studies. Subjects like literature, history, culture, and music, on the other hand, are undervalued mostly because of the flexibility and subjectivity that these disciplines offer. The absence of a correct answer to a particular question makes it hard for students to obtain a perfect grade in these courses. The discrimination among these fields leads to students having a mistaken conception about the importance of a singular area of study.
Indian schools primarily value a few subjects and domains of a profession more than others. People pursuing the sciences, computer engineering, or mathematics are considered to be smarter than those attempting the arts or humanities. While some students push themselves to study these courses against their will, others choose rebellion as a way of dealing with conformity. Either way, the real objective of education, which is to develop skills like thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, questioning, and efficiently communicating ideas, gets defeated.
Indian schools have an unrealistic expectation of every student achieving perfect marks in all the twelve streams of studies. Learners are shamed and unreasonably mortified if they fail to do so. The education system conditions the disciples to strive for a few favored higher educational institutions as these prestigious organizations are valued to be the only means of constructing a stable career. Conditioning like this generates a lot of unnecessary pressure and anxiety among pupils, and they grapple with scoring perfect marks in the courses which they either do not like or lack the temperament for. An environment like this not only kills the character that every learner brings to the table, but it also changes an individual’s idea of a flourishing career. The erroneous perception causes these students to choose the wrong professions, leading to the new hullabaloo later in their lives. Parents also sometimes put the pressure of their own professional ambitions on their children, aggravating the situation and making it harder for their children to identify their true calling.
Indian schools fail abominably in setting the foundation of a child’s career right. Higher educational institutions further worsen the situation. There are a few prestigious, more senior educational organizations that are reputed for providing quality education to Indian students; however, the admission in these colleges is another task in itself. India has followed the practice of reservation for quite some time now. Indian society has faced cast prejudice for ages, and as a preventive measure against that, Indian institutions reserve a certain number of seats for people belonging to a lower caste. The practice in itself is applaudable; however, it leads to a remarkably lower number of places available for people belonging to a general or a higher caste. A paucity of seats makes it immensely hard for the students to secure a position in these quality educational institutes. Not only that, but it sometimes gives way to corruption where either influential or wealthy people manage to grab one of these seats based on the donations they are capable of offering.
Tying it back to the point of the wrong foundation, prestigious Indian institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology, popularly known as IITs, and a few other universities are great centers of learning. However, the students who have gotten into these organizations as a result of the mistaken idea of a successful career, acquired from their schools, find it difficult to keep up with the pressure, which in turn leads to a progressed quantity of college drop-outs or student suicides. Student suicides are a significant collapse of the Indian education system.
Talking about not so reputable educational institutions, these are no better than the others. It is easy to get admission to these colleges; however, the quality of the curriculum offered in these schools is not so apparent. The lack of good teachers, along with the utilization of an old academic curriculum, makes it extremely challenging for these institutes to produce distinctive graduates. These colleges mostly offer degrees and not education.
In this rat race of obtaining monetary gains, quality education suffers.
Teachers encourage students to pursue private tutoring instead of putting in extra effort to teach them — an increase in a practice like this highlights that education itself has become more of a business model.
Although I hate to say this, the Indian education system is not up to the mark. It fails to produce good citizens as the current socio-political scenario of the country would make it evident. An unexpected discomfort with my job led to a detailed analysis of an education system that I was very much a part of. I would not quit IT; it was a number three or four on my list, which means I would still succeed in enjoying it — however, I would definitely try to dedicate more time to music and literature. I would also want to see the changes in the continuation of the existing education system in India. I hope that the authorities realize the intensity of the situation and take meaningful steps to better the current scenario.