In 2015 alone, the number of suicides in India was 8934. Divide that by the number of days, you get 24.48. Divide that by the hours in a day, 1.02. That’s 1 student per hour. The reason? The entire education system.
Maybe not all of the deaths are caused by this, but most of them can be traced back ultimately to the system of education and the mindset it has on the parents, and thus the children.
Why the education system sucks in India
#1 TOO MARKS BASED AND EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE
Everything, literally, is decided by your marks in examinations and tests and projects. Let’s take, for example, engineering, since it has a big share of students here. The premier set of colleges for engineering in India are the Indian Institutes of Technology or IITs. Getting into these requires… Surprise! An examination. Two, actually.
Both of them are considered some of the toughest examinations in the world. The first one, the Joint Entrance Exam Main (JEE Main) is the first exam which also serves as the qualifying round for the second examination, the JEE Advanced. About 1 million students give the Mains every year, out of which only 150,000 are qualified for the Advanced exam which also happens to be the only way into the prestigious IITs. And out of these, only about 35,000 students are qualified for admission. That’s about 3.5% of the million aspiring engineers that actually get admission into a good and affordable university.
And that’s not the end of the story. To prepare for the examination, students join various coaching centres designed specifically for the IIT-JEE examinations from as early as 5th grade. And, if you really want to prepare for the exam to qualify, you need to do tapasya for at least 2 years, which is, devote yourself completely to that one set of exams. It’s like taking an enormous risk. You give up everything else in your life to try to get into this one institution and if doesn’t work out you don’t have anything else to fall back on. But then again, if you do want to get in, there is no option but to give up everything else. And then, there’s a chance you get in only to, of course, face more exams and marks in college.
And the worst part is people treat marks like they are indeed the end of the world. This mentality has sunk into the very core of our brains. We can’t think beyond marks. They make you who you are. They are not just a test of how much you learnt now, they are a judge of character, of talent, of your very personality. This mentality, this mentality rotten to the very core is what needs to be uprooted.
And sophomores, thus have to make a stressed decision at the end of the year when choosing streams while also, of course, managing the stress of giving the board exams.
Replicate this whole process for medical school, or any other stream, because everything is based on marks and is very similar to the engineering example.
#2 MANIPULATIVE AND RESTRICTING
Don’t think those who have a love for art, dance, music, photography, etcetera can escape this catastrophic reality. The whole system in India has lately been building around engineering and medical streams, which is affecting the education at the very basic level. Even if you want to become a cricketer you’ll be trained (more like tortured) like you have to grow up and become an engineer. Since when has the education system been given the power to decide our professions. It doesn’t let anyone but future engineers and doctors follow their passion, to embrace what they love, what they want to build a career and life around in the future from the very beginning. This system suppresses imagination, originality and creativity. The books are metal shackles in disguise. They don’t let you follow your dream, your heart. They don’t give you a choice.
#3 UNNECESSARY PRESSURE
What is our education system gaining by turning us into human photocopying machines, by making us write down, correction, COPY literally copy down every page of the book word for word in our notebooks. Yes, you heard me right all non-Indians. We do that. That is not called making notes. It’s called wasting time that could’ve been used productively. “Writing helps memorise stuff” that’s what they tell us. I don’t think I’ll learn more about politics by writing down stuff about it than actually, you know, doing it, that is, debating which is a concept close to being alienated here. Making us do useless projects that involve no learning but only copying down things from Wikipedia. These things increase the workload of the already worked up children and they don’t even benefit them in ANY WAY.
#5 LEARNING BY ROTE
Ever since we could talk we’ve been told to mug up things. We mug up entire books for our tests. We mug up dates. We mug up names. We don’t understand the concept, the logic, the meaning, the moral, we simply mug it up. We mug up information for chapters in ENGLISH and give tests. We don’t get lost in a story, dwell deep in a world of fantasy, get lost in the symphony of poetry or interpret the meaning of beautiful words and phrases. We mug up notes and write them down in our exam. That’s what our education system has come to.
…SO, HERE’S WHAT
The education system of India is so highly suffocating and repressive that it makes us think that the only way the character of a student can be fathomed is by how much they score in their finals (great criteria for judgement right?).
There are people out there dying to be educated and there are people over here dying because of education.
A laughable paradox, indeed.
So, what leads the education system of the largest democracy in the world into becoming a killing machine?
Answer: the mind-bogglingly huge population of students out of which some genuinely want to get into the fields they are trying to get into while the rest are just under peer pressure.
India is teeming with students who want to get into the most elite institutions. However, these institutions don’t hold a vacancy of more than a few thousand seats (and I’m not even taking the quota system into account).
So once admissions are closed and the apparently ‘best-est’ of the lot are selected, what happens to the rest? (And mind you, most of the students are extremely bright and can talk in three different languages, have impeccable English language skills, can solve math and science problems 10 times better than an average American citizen, etcetera, etcetera)
What happens to the rest, then? When great minds don’t get fitting jobs they either go into depression, or become rickshaw wallahs, or commit suicide. Whereas these same people could get into a better college, get better opportunities and more job security abroad.
Agreed, that in a country with such a vast population and not such an adequate infrastructure, marks hold an important significance in weeding out the ‘bad’ students from the ‘good’ ones. However, this is no excuse for not allowing students to focus on extracurricular activities, projects which actually matter, creativity and sports. Maybe it is the lack of promoting this other aspect of education into the Education System of India which is responsible for the underdeveloped human resource in India which has led to a fall in the overall development of the country.
The condition of getting an education and becoming who you want to be is very unfortunate in India. Improving this is hard, indeed but not impossible. Parents, not everyone wants to be an engineer or a doctor. Students out there, whatever you wanna do, just do it. You just gotta be passionate about it, and the puzzle of life will snap right back into place as soon as you do that.
Go for every weird fetish of yours. Fulfill them. Work towards it no matter what. The crazier the better. Dream big. Do not let this system of ours change who you really are, who you want to be and who you can be. Make it happen. Write your own fate. And it’s clichéd but remember this time won’t come back. Do not get pressurised and make the wrong choice. You don’t want a string of regrets when you grow old trust me. If something gets you fame, money, respect, yadda, yadda but not happiness it’s not worth it. You’ll stick it through the four years of college but curse yourself and blame others for the rest of your life. You’ll slowly and steadily be driven to madness. The sorrow will latch onto you. Don’t let yourself drown in this pool of regret. Be who you are. Live your dream.
Image Credits : Pranav Mohan SharmaI like this!