In 2003 when our neighbor shifted from Rourkela to Bhubaneswar in a hurry for no apparent reason, I was perplexed by their impulsive decision. When asked, their only reply was, “My brother’s son has topped in the board examinations and he was studying at DAV Chandrasekharpur. So we are relocating to enroll our son in the same school and offer him a bright future.” Their decision intrigued me to no end and I wondered if their existing school had any deficiency. If nothing else, he was already the topper in their school.
A decade has passed and unfortunately, this approach has become a norm and increasingly endemic amongst the parents across the city, which leaves me to draw some inferences.
With the CBSE curriculum becoming widely accepted and preferred over ICSE among many parents in the city, the universal approach to education has gradually shifted from ideal to simplistic over the last one decade. I would like to discuss some issues concerning the evolving trends in school education especially in Bhubaneswar over the years.
Branding Schools- The Monetization of Education
More than concentrating on a ‘good’ schooling, a lot of attention is being paid by parents towards finding a ‘popular’ school. The notion that drives them is “My child will definitely perform well if I admit him in XYZ School.” But how correct is this thought? There is absolutely no dispute on the fact that schools are the second home of a child and, they play an integral part in shaping their life and career. What we don’t notice is the blurring line between “school” and “schooling”. The educational institutions have established their names on the basis of the number of IIT rank holders they produce every year. And the ones with highest productions are rated as the best ones.
The question is, should a school be given the title “best” if it comes up with maximum number of IIT qualifiers? I don’t think so. Institutions are meant to fill the students with abundant knowledge and teach them important principles of life so that they can pursue their dreams without losing direction. Clouding their judgment and perception and deciding their career path without their consent is not the so called “good schooling”. Children should be educated in a way that they can pursue and excel in the field of their interest. The imposition is just a technique to establish market and to attract parents who by default have the “My son/daughter will be an engineer/doctor” notion.
From Percentage to Grades
After the frequent suicides in Delhi and many other parts of India on the declaration of 10th board results, in 2012 CBSE implemented the gradation system and completely wiped out the concept of measuring performance on the basis of percentage. Although it is a proactive step, gradation system is not the solution. Rather, it has heightened the problem.
For example, approximately 30% of the total students of a class come up with “10 CGPA” and almost nobody has grades less than “8”. This makes the whole scenario ambiguous. The system of evaluation is not even properly known to the teachers and there is no way to understand if the child has grasped something since it is just A1, B2 that come up on the mark sheets instead of marks.
This technique might be helpful to achieve a short term goal in order to keep the students pumped up, but will it help them in the long run? Competition and hard work are a must for success. And both children and parents must understand that excelling in studies is not the only way to a bright career. There are many other options available for students with average grades and marks and they can choose their career option. And if they really want to be positioned as a prestigious government official or a highly paid engineer, they need to strive for it and achieve the goal, since nothing comes for free. Gradation system is just like handing a candy to a crying child without focusing on the fact that the candy will affect his/her health.
The Coaching Center Addiction
Another evil which has hit the education environment of the state capital are the countless private coaching institutes. Tuitions and coaching centers have become a fashion in the mini metropolis. If you are not getting coached at “the Padhees” or “Akash”, you are not a good student. Such a trend dominated the city for the last 8 years and still continues to proliferate.
Coaching and tuitions are an ancillary support to approaching study the evolving course patterns. A helping hand is an added advantage only when it is taken in the right direction with proper focus. Choosing an institute based on someone else’s assessment is not a wise step and going for tuitions blindly without any goal is completely unrewarding. Besides, tuitions trigger the mentality “I don’t need to pay attention in class because I will be studying this at my private institute”, thereby creating an unhealthy classroom environment.
A sincere student should always focus on classroom teaching and carry out self study. A thorough understanding of a subject will beget curiosity and help you become more inquisitive in your approach to subjects of your choice. Only then you can seek the support of a class teacher or your tutor.
Having studied in one of the ICSE schools in Bhubaneswar and supporting my younger sibling to approach her studies in similar schools, I have observed the trend very minutely and shared my sentiments with you. I welcome you to dispute my observation and question my perception. Either way, I’d like to know your thoughts on the topic as it radically affects the education ecosystem of our city.