May 10, 2006

The essential change

"Wake up, Tina. It's already 7. You got to get ready for college", Tina's mom was shouting from the kitchen. A bright Monday morning. But Tina woke up with a dull face. Ever since she joined college, her enthusiasm was completely lost. She was expecting more from college life, not just in terms of fun and frolic but also in terms of knowledge and career growth. But like any other college, her's too was caught up with the same conventional mechanical mode of teaching, attendance, exams etc.

Rushing towards the bus stop with her assignment notes, Tina managed to catch the bus. Her best friend, Deepa greeted her with a broad smile. "Looks like you had completed your assignment. I have 4 hours from now to finish copying. I'm gonna start right away. " demanded Deepa, grabbing the microprocessors assignment from Tina's hands. "Assignments mean copying from a book to a piece of paper word by word, I suppose" , commented Tina with a sarcastic smile.

The bus stopped at RK Layout and Lakshman, another friend of Tina boarded the bus. "Hey laks, completed the assignment?", asked Deepa, without looking at his face but focussed on copying from Tina's papers. "I don't plan to write it. What's the point of copying? There is no proper evaluation system. Whoever writes the maximum number of pages get good grades. Absolute waste of time", cribbed Laks.

"Very true. I have been wondering for the past 2 years asking myself what I've been doing in an engineering college. Feel like I'm going to a primary school everyday. An outdated syllabus, lecturers who collect notes from previous year students and dictate verbatim everyday which we are supposed to copy, exams every month and evaluation system based on the number of pages you scribble. On top of all that, students who read the last minute guides score good marks and are considered genius. Ridiculous. It's not surprising that many students go abroad for higher education" spoke Tina in a single breath.

"I agree with you, Tina. There are so many things to learn, explore and try out. But we are never allowed to do. The exam pressures and these useless assignments take away our precious time. We don't have the chance to experiment. Failure is considered taboo in our education system. Peer pressure, family responsibilities and societal rules prevent us from taking unconventional paths. These subjective exams should be totally abolished" Laks vented out his frustration.

"Hey, you two, We have to adjust with the system here. If not, then we cannot succeed in our lives. We have to clear these exams and get good grades. Or else we will be jobless. Be practical, guys" said a supposed-to-be-realistic Deepa.

"If we don't oppose, this system is going to remain forever. We will never be innovative and experimenting. We will become averse to risk taking. This is going to affect us as well as our society in the long run. We need to act fast" Laks suggested.

"So what do you plan to do? Do you think the present education methodology can be changed for the good?" Deepa questioned.

"Yes, I do think it's possible, Deepa. It is definitely in the hands of students. I know this can't be changed overnight. But we can take the first step which our juniors can take it forward. We should talk to our lecturers to challenge our knowledge in a more creative fashion rather than through a subjective exam. If not at the university exams level, we should atleast try different methodologies in class tests and assignments. We can talk to our seniors abroad who are pursuing higher studies to find out the unique teaching styles and discuss with our profs here, atleast to profs who would listen to our ideas in a positive way" said Tina.

Deepa and Laks were very impressed with Tina's suggestions. The college bus reached the college gates and the security guard opened the gate. Tina felt that this is a positive opening which is going to revolutionize the education system.

PS : This short story is the way I think about changing our education system - bottom-top approach which I strongly believe would be more effective. Whoever is reading this article and have ideas that can change our current education system in a positive way, please post them as a comment.

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