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The sham of cut-throat competition

By GovernanceToday
In Cover Story
July 7, 2016

According to the last updated report of  National Crime Records Bureau, 3,807 students committed suicide

W e are talking of suicide. We are talking  of kids committing suicide.  We are talking of kids committing suicide because of cut throat competition?

college-admission-gameIs it? Was it because of the competition, suicide would have been in history but this is new. Suicide among children and teens has increased in last decade.

The competition is not new, it has just evolved and so have the other things and in the right proportions. Then where did this begin and why is it continuing?

Earlier we had 10 schools, there was competition, now we have schools in thousands and still there is competition. Earlier the scope was limited now it has got better, every trade has a professional scope now, and still kids are killing themselves. Surprised? No?

Exactly! This is the problem. We have accepted that suicide happens. We have accepted that unsuccessful children kill themselves out of frustration. But that is not as natural as it is made out to be. How do these kids decide at this tender age, when they have not even lived quarter of their lives, that they have failed in life?

Psychologists say that at a very tender age the children are being given the idea that success means good schools and good schools and colleges mean big building, high ranking, good-looking faculty, campus size and hoards of cocurricular activities.

Lakhs are spent on admission of a kid, as young as three, to a fancy school. For what? To build a class. From then and there the notion is only “good” colleges can help you become somebody, else you will be doomed.

Deciding career is not on whether the child is good at arts, science or commerce but is at what is trending, which subjects define intelligence and which subjects will make the neighbours jealous.

Let’s talk about the other set of children. A lady tops in Political science and proudly explains how political science taught her culinary skills. Another topper in Chemistry could not relate H2O to water. These made a mockery of themselves all over and on camera. They did not commit suicide. They had grossly messed it up yet they did not. Why? Because they do not know of frustration, they do not know of fancy colleges, they do not know that anything is more important than life and here, in the last part, they are right.

I am not siding with these kids who passed exams by wrong means. I am just trying to tell people that there is something beyond marks. There is an innocent life. These students focused only on marks, just numbers. Ethics, knowledge, future prospects all were thrown to the winds.

Over 25 years into teaching profession and a number of years in Delhi University, Prof Ramesh Kumar, talks blunt mocking the parameters that define the credibility of a colleges and schools today. Lamenting the quality of the top bosses who are authorised to appoint teachers or professors, he says, “I have been interviewed by people, members of the reputed administrative bodies for education, who had no clue about education. The panel comprised people who were into pipe selling business or sari selling or were contractors at brick kilns. Imagine these people interview us.”

Another person who has been a teacher for 15 years shares that teachers practically do not have a say. “They have set rules, we follow. The students should feel that they are studying in a good college and the parents should feel the same because they are paying our salaries.” She adds that being a teacher today is not about grooming a child but about making the child comfortable, let the child sit in his or her comfort zone and produce results. “I do not understand how that is possible because normally children are reluctant to study and strict discipline is what is needed to make them somebody someday. It wasn’t like these 10 years back but today teaching is all about fancy scrap books, smart uniforms, big buildings, smart teacher; basically just show off. It’s sad.”

Well placed sources within the education departments say that teachers are selected on two parameters mostly. One, if they have the basic requisites for the vacancy and second, if they have the ability to turn their backs to “unethical” dealings happening around them in the name of management quota or other quotas.

“Frankly, the second criterion is more important than the first one,” says Kumar.

killing-kids-and-talentsThe college ranking reports of various publications are what students use to set their goals, unaware of the fact that very few of these ranking reports are actually ‘genuine’. Bigger the campus, more the facilities and more popular the people in the faculty, the higher is the ranking of the college. Set of books, courses, training and credits are considered secondary.

There are only two parameters that will land you into the college of your choice – a lot of money and contacts. Student A gets 95 percent and wishes to study in a college but applied through normal procedure, seats were full so he couldn’t get through.

Student B gets 60 per cent but has a lot of money. He applies through management quota and gets into the college that Student A couldn’t despite getting a very high score.

“These are not institutions, these are shops. We call them shops. Their aim is not to impart education but to make profits even at the cost of children’s lives,” adds Kumar.

There are universities, colleges that look for dropouts and allure them into helping them get degrees in lieu of money. Degrees as sensitive as MBBS, B Ed and B tech are being distributed for money.

Worst part is the parents are equally responsible for the disaster. It is not important whether the child is comfortable taking science or arts or any subject for that matter, it is important to take up something good enough to be described in their circle to give them a feeling of superiority. Parents pay any price to get their Wards into those fancy gates, into those institutions that top the charts without giving one single minute of thinking to whether the kid will be able to sustain, let alone be comfortable.

Many professors in many parts of India agreed to back door entry, that is admissions in lieu of money. They agreed that education mafia is the biggest mafia today. Black marketing is going on for even the most reputed colleges and universities.

A student, on condition of anonymity, shared that there was a time when there was a death in the family and he could not study and therefore got poor grades. Looking for options he met a person who had a proper office in the name of consultancy firm. They guaranteed that he would get admission in a college under Delhi University if he paid Rs 3 lakh and that too with the subjects of his choice.

There is no big proof than this of the level of contacts and influence these people have. They claim to have contacts with officers at all levels of administration and are not scared of any police or law.

“Fear is not what will happen to these students, a greater fear is what will happen to those who would be treated by these future doctors; what will happen to those structures that will be constructed under these engineers and how will the very basis of education survive at the hands of such teachers,” adds Kumar.

There is no competition, there is nothing like amazing college, excellent faculty or a sure shot great mentoring at any institution. These are all profit making factories that mint apparently literate beings in customized forms, as per the desires of the payee.

Here knowledge has taken a backseat and ‘genuine’ capabilities are of no use. All that matters is money. Welcome to this new vertical of black marketing called education.

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