Students and the Future


During an informal discussion with a group of young students [17-18 years] on Barack Obama’s remark that India is no more an emerging country but an “emerged” one, I mentioned that about 160,000 farmers committed suicide in the “emerged” India in the last two decades. 

“Good,” said one of the students.  I was not sure I heard it right since there were giggles from some other students.  So I asked what he had said.  One of the students who did not giggle repeated what the student had said.  I was shocked and wanted to know why he thought the suicide of a large number of poor Indians good.  “It’s a natural check on the emerging population of India,” was the answer.

Having been a teacher of young students for about quarter of a century, I have observed the emerging youth at sufficiently close quarters.  The closeness stretches even to the dormitories of the students since I now work in a residential school. One of the things that I have noticed with some consternation is the increasing frivolousness, if not puerility, among the young students towards the society around them.

Today’s [22 Nov 2010] Times of India reports that many parents in Delhi and other cities of India are against the central government’s policy which stipulated that 25 per cent of seats in posh schools that had obtained the land for the school at a subsidy from the government should be reserved for students from economically backward classes.  The reason cited is that the students from backward classes use abusive language and thus damage the standard of the other students. Why do the students from backward classes take recourse to abusive language, if they do so at all?  Is it because they are ostracised on account of their poverty and consequent ‘freeship’ [the word used by Times of India] in school?  What does the rich parents’ attitude reveal?  Can we blame the children of such parents for harbouring anti-poor attitudes?

Children tend to carry attitudes bequeathed to them by their parents. How much difference can the school make?  More importantly, how much difference do the schools want to make?  The Times of India report also mentioned a few teachers who spoke against the poor students.  [The Times of India  has its own axe to grind.] Of course, the school has become a commercial enterprise now, even as the hospital has.  No commercial enterprise wants clients who dig into the profits.

What is worrying more, however, is the attitude of the rich youth, the future bureaucrats and decision-makers of the “emerged” India.  The students I spoke to belong to a school whose annual fees are higher than the annual income of more than half of India’s population.  They are students who throw away the food given to them, better as it is than the food that the majority of Indians can afford, and go to the canteen for fast food and Pepsi.  They are students who carry – clandestinely, of course – mobile phones with internet connections. But they are also students who use the internet facility only for logging on to Facebook or such other frivolous accounts where they make frivolous comments.

They are students who seldom care to use the school’s library for reading books or magazines or even newspapers.  They are students who tend to cheat in their exams.  Cheating in exams has become so common that an invigilator who forbids it is made to appear like a fool.

The Central Board of Secondary Education [CBSE] has introduced, under the leadership of Kapil Sibal, a system called CCE [Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation].  It is geared to change the entire approach to the current education system.  It seeks to make researchers out of the students.  Theoretically it is an ideal system.  The students have to do their own research.  The activities conducted in the classroom with the help of the teacher will spur on the curiosity of the students.  If the students take this seriously and if the schools can provide the necessary infrastructure for the research, it will be a wonderful revolution.  How many students will care to do the research, how many schools will care to provide the infrastructure, and how many teachers will care to be good guides?

I keep my fingers crossed.

I wish, however, that the parents of today – I mean, the rich parents – had not saved so much money for their children.  I wish the parents had let the children earn their future.  Then CCE – or any system, for that matter – would have worked!


About matheikal

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6 Responses to Students and the Future

  1. aram says:

    I think i have seen the changing trend as a negative curve!!
    I hate to admit it but maybe I myself have been victim of the current scenario!!
    Things need to change!!
    The problem today is the problem that always has been there!!
    The people who know right from wrong will keep mum while the fools will blow their trumpets!!
    Lets hope the children who earn their future bring about some change!!

    • Matheikal says:

      Aram, so nice of you to come in as soon as I posted this.
      Yes, the problem has always been there, I agree. As Jesus [reportedly] said, “The poor will always be with you.” But I’m not sure I share your hope that the children who ‘earn’ their future will bring about the change because the system is thoroughly skewed against them.

  2. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    You are touching on a number of things … one, the devalued value of life without money; two, the environment that discounts ethics; three, the environment that skews learning exclusively to its instrumental aspects – what it will let you earn; four, what parents should bequeath their children and what in fact they increasingly do; five, how the tail, business end of education, is wagging the dog, the purpose of education. And, in every one of them there is nothing to take exception to. But, put them all together, it is overwhelming and the first reaction – and dare I say, the last one too – is to put one one hands up and surrender. And though that is not what you meant it is what comes out. So sad.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

    P S This research stuff in school – in a year or two you will have ready-made “Research papers” available in the market!

  3. Rishi says:

    Any change, no matter for good or bad, pains, takes time to bear fruit.I am not where the problem lies. Is it in our education system, parents, school, current and coming generation or the very thought of emerging hindustaan to emerged obama’s India.
    But being optimistic, i always hope, pray, and foresee a better cultured hindustaan.

  4. Lalit Sharma says:

    Sir, this problem of cheating is there before also, but earlier it was not open, nowadays it is.
    Sir, though it is wrong but most students apply it in the last moment, when they have nothing left with them and they have to appear in the exam.
    I think only proper inspiration can help the students to think themselves, “they should study, not cheat”, as it would not help them in their future.
    And about CCE, it is also not a fool-proof system as those children can also cheat whenever they get chance.

  5. benny says:

    I fully agree with the rotten education that today”s
    children receive. You must not loose hope that India
    will fail in the futre. Most of the best I A S toppers come from very poor vernacular schools where the traditional integreity still exists.

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