Exam blues and Education system

The month of March kick starts the exam season in India. In this competitive world where one misses their favorite college or course by a mark or two, students cannot afford to leave even a single line in their textbooks. All this results in increased stress levels during the exam days. To keep the pressure down, many brands now join hands with the parents and offer exam tips and advices to the students. GlaxoSmithKline’s health food drink, Horlicks switched from their cool jingle – epang opang jhopang – to a more serious tone for this exam season, where they talk about increasing concentration power and driving away the exam fear from the students. They even put the message – All the best for exams – in their bottle cover.

Driving away the exam flu – Mock Exams:

Regional Newspapers go one step further and are involved directly in the student’s preparation for exams. Almost all Tamil dailies be it Dinamalar, Dinamani, Dinathanthi or Dinakaran, publish S.S.L.C and plus two model question papers for the students to practice well before the exam starts. Now this trend moves online. Indiatimes one of the leading news and entertainment portal in India has introduced a new service – Indiatimes mindscape Test centre. In addition to the CAT, GRE, IIT-JEE and other popular entrance exams, they also offer mock tests right from class 5. This online testing is not a free one, but priced reasonably.

Well, I can understand the needs of a mock exam for a college entrance exam or for the important ones in schools like class 10 or 12, but why on earth we need a mock exam for a 5th standard student? That in someway reflects the importance we give to marks and ranks in schools than in the learning process. This will only produce students excelling in rote learning, and in developing their memory power than inculcating a creative thinking attitude.

Corporate initiatives – Changing the way the world learns:

Now there are websites for mock exams, but are there any portals to explain the syllabus interestingly and in an effective way? Internet is a great tool to teach the concepts to students in an interactive way. In fact Tata’s have a separate company, Tata Interactive Systems for e-learning solutions and services. And they have a corporate blog too. They have developed products like SPARKMath™ Numeracy Suite that allows teachers to explain mathematical concepts visually and enables students to learn by self-exploration. Also they have been making educational games and Game-based Learning Objects that will help in achieving high levels of engagement among the learners and also make the whole learning process fun.

From universities (Boston University) to schools (Florida Virtual school) to banks (Citibank) to airlines (British Airways) to FMCG (Unilever), Tata Interactive Systems key clients spread across various industries. However I’m not sure whether any Indian schools are benefiting from their products. With their experience in e-learning domain they could easily develop a virtual school or portal, covering the school syllabus to address the learning needs of the Indian school children. If people are ready to pay for mock exams, then they definitely won’t mind paying the same for learning the concepts thru an interesting game or for experimenting their ideas in a virtual science lab.

Social initiatives – Improving the quality of education:

Another Indian software major Wipro, has taken steps to contribute towards improving the quality of the Indian education system through the initiatives of Azim Premji Foundation in rural schools and Wipro Applying Thought program in Schools in urban elite schools. I saw an interesting cartoon in wipro applying thought in schools website where a student asks, “Can you say what future holds for you?” And for this, another student replies – “That’s out of syllabus…Isn’t there in my text books”. That cartoon clearly portrays the current state of education system in India, one that focuses only on syllabus, exams and marks. Wipro Applying Thought program in Schools has very good resource library of websites that provides teaching tips and learning activities for teachers, parents and students. Quite useful indeed.

A decade has passed since I finished my schooling but I didn’t see any significant change in the teaching methods or in the learning process. Even my well-educated colleagues, while looking for their kid’s admission in kindergarten are searching for a school that churns out state toppers and not for a one that fosters creativity and original thought. Will the Indian education system change in the coming decade?

Comments

  1. The sad irony is that in spite of the education standards and techniques remaining prosaic, the government keeps increasing the education cess (whatever that means!). The standard of education or more correctly the techniques used by the teachers to motivate the student to seek and discover knowledge would improve only when the politicians and bureacrats are forced to send their students to public schools. Now that’s something am not going to see in my life time :)

  2. Siva Rajendran says:

    Why go to the public school level, even in private schools, teaching methodology is not worth talking about. These schools charging exorbitant tution fees should take steps to improve their teaching by following some international best practices. Thanks for your comments, Krishna.

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