Representational Picture.

The past year, 2018, will go down as one the bleakest in recent history. From violence to weather and education – it was the worst year of the last decade. In this article, however, we will focus on education only. The recent 12th standard results in Kashmir reflect interesting facts. While girls outshone boys yet again, the overall result was recorded as the worst in the last ten years.

 

The most frightening thing wasn’t the result though. It was when students, who had failed to qualify the exams attempted to take their lives. One girl student had failed in just one subject and yet couldn’t swallow the pressure and took her life. This is not only sad and frightening but an indictment of our educational system and our society. We have made exams such a big deal in our lives that it has ingrained a sense of internal pressure among children to excel at it at any cost – even at the expense of giving away the life.

Let us ponder over why exams are such a big deal in our lives and are these worth taking so much pressure to excel at something that really doesn’t matter in the battle of life?

The whole concept of exams as determining a person’s final success in life is fundamentally flawed because it just is not true. It’s not a fact that people who excel at exams and even studies go on to be very successful in their lives. They may or may not be. Success in life is dependent on other factors and most important of them is determination and will. I am not advocating that exams do not matter, but they are as important as you want them to be.

It’s not a fact that people who excel at exams and even studies go on to be very successful in their lives.

While examinations can be an excellent way to test a student’s ability to memorise information and reproduce it and to prove one’s ability to work under pressure, but they measure just these qualities or the lack thereof and should be conducted for these only. It appears that this concept of examinations is also lost in our lives as we have made examinations to mean much more. We have attached social prestige to it which is not just sickening but downright unfair. It is by assigning to examinations a person’s and his family prestige that it has created a situation where children feel pressurised at all levels.

Education’s primary purpose is to teach us our objectives as political and social beings. A person with very little formal education can have more value in the society than a person with a PhD

While it’s not wrong to encourage good grades in children, it’s entirely wrong and criminal to put pressure on them. As much as we celebrate those who have achieved success, we must not treat those with lesser grades or even those who fail with contempt and ridicule. This defeats the whole purpose of education.

Education’s primary purpose is to teach us our objectives as political and social beings. A person with very little formal education can have more value in the society than a person with a PhD. We have seen tons of examples in our society where highly educated persons are not successful while those who didn’t excel at studies are quite successful. Success here doesn’t mean monetary success, but the ability of the person to contribute to the positive well-being of the society through his or her work.

Sadly, our education system is not geared towards ensuring the large-scale development of the person on a mental and spiritual level but making us vie for marks and push us towards excelling at examinations.

We must develop alternative modes of education, which are in line with what Paula Freire called ‘practices of freedom, not practices of dominance’. Today’s educational systems only perpetuate practices of dominance not just through absurd marking-system but by rendering those with lesser marks and poor grades in the margins susceptible to reproachment and abuse. It’s why an increasing number of students have attempted to take their lives in recent times.