Friday, 22 August 2014

Absurdities of our Academic System

Our examination system is simply an academic terrorism
People complain about disappearance of reading culture;  of disrespect for the Word. I think reasons are not difficult to seek. One important reason is irrational academic system. I asked a friend what book he recently read he said, do exams spare us the time for reading books? Unless we question and reform academic system, there will be no culture for books, for readings, for thinking.  
There are thousand and one absurdities in current academic arrangements in our State and the implication of them is a crippled academic system geared to promotion of mediocrity, wastage of human and other resources, stress on students and overall disaster in terms of development of State. Examination system is simply academic terrorism – a point I wish to target separately in future.  Admission and Recruitment systems are simply at cross purposes and result in such a colossal loss that I wonder why all this is not in news. How our minds and souls are destroyed, how new generation and brilliant students are pushed to depression if not to suicide is an untold story of Kashmiri’s enslavement and a massive academic corruption. Let me recount a few facts and ask why we don’t seek change.
Students are enrolled in such numbers in both professional and other academic courses that most of them must end up sitting idle, cursing their fate or the day they got selected. To illustrate let me cite the case of Veterinary sciences where around 100 students are admitted annually and now more than 800 are sitting idle despite many of them having invested 6-7 years for BVSc and MVSc courses. It was the sweet will of the then CM, Mufti Sahib, that number of seats was almost quadrupled in a single day. More than 30 students can’t be ideally taught in a class. And there is a discrepancy even in this distribution of seats. Jammu veterinary college is relatively less burdened. Kashmir is discriminated against as facilities for teaching so many students are not forthcoming. 
Aspiring students for some professional courses are in thousands while the seats are in dozens only. It means huge energy of thousands of students (from applying to preparing) goes waste. Sometimes a student has to appear for the same exams number of times and ironically the more attempts he makes, slimmer get the chances to qualify, as fresh students have better touch and more recent memory that gives them an edge. Why not replicate the pattern in some other States of India where students are entertained only batch wise or seniority wise. The fact that a student has invested 5 or 7 years in earning particular certificate means he need not be judged again. Were teachers, who have examined them, fools? In professional  courses scores if not hundreds of exams are to be cleared to complete the degree.
What need is there to force students to apply time and again for the same post? Why wouldn't  one-time process of submitting the form do? A nation that has time for filling so many forms is better  suited for digging  pits and filling them again. Why  require SKUAST to conduct special exam for agriculture and BVSc, and force students to apply again? 

There are many ways of looting aspiring candidates. Would the authorities, for God’ s sake, spare the way of collecting form fee? Whose fault is to overproduce eligible candidates, to disconnect education from jobs? Why follow disastrous laissez faire logic in a State governed by article 370? Why can’t one’s SMS be enough that mention’s Marks Percentage, DoB, Residence or any other important information?  No fees, no submission at particular place, no time wasted in downloading and filling long forms, no paper pollution in this digital age. If the State needs money from more than 90% of aspiring candidates who are not going to be selected anyway, let it try such measures as collect some prefixed niyaz from successful candidates to meet expenses for conducting exams etc.  Today PSC, SSRB etc. are realizing revenue through proxy. No need to call too many candidates and waste countless men-days that students spend in revising the content for entrances and interviews. No task is more soul killing than revising what has been revised many times previously. We can devise ways to shortlist (in the first place why can’t we not overproduce candidates so that no need to short-list and then further humiliate and waste resources by dropping majority in interviews. Most interviews are mechanical exercises that can judge nothing worthwhile in few minutes and only check memory of certain useful and useless items of information. More productive suggestion is requiring one day’s manual work for all aspiring candidates as application  fee  - this would be only a fraction of time misspent on preparing for exam/interview. Can one ask to get guarantee of job at the time of getting admission in professional course after its successful completion? If not, why not? How come we afford wasting resources for teaching or training students for years if no certainty of making use of the same for community?  Currently our academic/recruitment system is like a huge poultry farm that produces more than 90% of chicken not for market but for just fattening or feeding for dogs ; wasting feed, labour and other resources. 
We needlessly hype some small scandals in our system. The very system built on the pranks of universal literacy (Coomaraswamy  razes to ground the idea of requiring all to read and not get skilled in particular vacation or craft) examination system that primarily tests memory, curriculum not in mother tongue especially in earlier classes, producing students who are generally alienated from studies and hardly read a book later in life, a system where thousands apply for few posts time and again, where majority are not tailored for academic courses but forced to take up and then end up mostly just wasting precious years of life are elements of a mega-scandal that costs us souls and minds. 
Will authorities, including the Chief Minister, take note of such crass absurdities? Education sector suffered a death blow under Bakshi, and the decline continues. Reforms suggested by our educationists have not been carried out. Why, is not difficult to guess. We need radical reforms in examination system,  proper rationing in number of students that get admitted, correcting discrepancy between Jammu, and the Kashmir (I used to wonder why isn’t  our State called JK instead of J & K and then I see all kinds of discriminations and I understand why!); scrap the need to separately apply for admissions in SKUAST, not require applying for the same course again and again, give seniority its due and devise mechanisms to decrease wastage of human and State resources, seek a report on all round failure of current examination system to bring forth excellence and creativity or critical thinking etc.?

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