Thursday, June 25

A chance to change

Nandita Sengupta makes a good argument about the futility of scrapping Class X examinations. I agree with her on the need for greater and better options after Class X. But scrapping the "traumatic" examinations could perhaps be conducive to it.

Simply because we are good at maths and science, or that it helps make more money, does not mean that everyone should be an engineer or a doctor. There could be other applications of these skills (e.g. the neglected pure sciences) that are equally important to the overall well being of the society. Not to forget the importance of Arts and Humanities that are unfortunately looked down upon due to poor monetary returns. In fact, compartmentalizing students at Class XI into Arts, Science and Commerce with very little chance of moving around needs rethinking. I think that Class XI and XII should expose students to all three (and more) areas and let them dabble with varied courses and combinations to their liking before they make up their minds. It would give them time to explore their interests, mature from teenagers to young adults and make better career decisions. It might even help increase respect for the social sciences and humanities.

Anyone who has been through the Class X to XI transition process knows that Class XI choices are mostly dictated by parents. The standard argument being that the kids are too young to know what's good for them anyways. If the choice is postponed to voting age (18 yrs) with a chance to know what they are getting into, the chances of voluntary decisions might increase.

Our education system (from pre-kg to PhD) needs rethinking and adapting to changing needs. And Sibal's plans are ambitious. At the very least he is talking about the right things, instead of catering to caste politics like his predecessor. Even if he succeeds in changing a couple of things, or getting the Right to Education bill implemented, he would have done a big service. And maybe he will.

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