Do not mistake the subject statement as a mere exaggeration to call for attention.
Over the years, the purpose of Education is being lost to the process of Examination. Let us discuss the two separately.
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, and habits.
If the above were to be true, then we all should be very well aware of the skills, values, morals, beliefs, habits and knowledge that a student is likely to possess after a specific number of years of education. What are the deliverables that the present education system is promising to our children? What are the short term and long term education objectives that have been determined? What can we expect from the educated after a specific number of years?
With loads of information and data, children today have been made to feel as if they are totally in the unknown and that they need to learn from the textbooks, which are the Gospels of truth and knowledge. Without going into how the syllabus has been structured to meet the larger objective, children burn the midnight oil to master the information. Some score 100 per cent and some 40 per cent. Without going into how the 40 per cent was accepted as the passing mark, both the students with 40 per cent and 100 per cent pass out the system and are declared successful. The student who scores 100 per cent develops the attitude that he/ she knows it all and that the one with 40 per cent feels that if he/she were to master the books, it would give him /her the taste of eternal knowledge.
The point in question here is what should be the goal of education? Whether the present day education system is achieving that goal? What set of specific and broad goals should our children acquire after a long 14-15 years of school education? Are we even talking about them, or is it just the passing certificate we are all interested in? Has the End become more important than the Process?
Without going into the 'correlation' of the education goals with the subjects and syllabus being covered in schools; even for a moment if we say all is well; why does the system need to send hundreds of changes / additional circulars to schools on newer practices/commemoration of days/activities / etc. almost regularly? Even it being so, we may like to conclude that the system is ever-evolving, ever-expanding, ever developing. So isn't the process standardised not to achieve the goal that is supposedly earmarked? We need to keep adding newer activities every week /fortnight as additional curriculum/activity. Also, why doesn't the system also delete some activities/material/workload which may become redundant, and due to this, there is a need to add more activities over the old ones? Anybody guesses that no School would complete the set of stipulated exercises/activities/work as enshrined in the system's requirement. So is this a calculated way of putting the schools on the back foot to always feel left behind and always wanting soft handling?
Where are the parents in the process? They are the most important stakeholders who need to be taken alongside. Do the parents even know about the teaching objectives or expect their children to be after they pass out class 12? Or is it too mechanical that everything that goes in the system comes out and further goes in and then again comes out and on and on? What is the accountability of the system? The state of affairs in today's society speaks volumes of where the system is heading. With School toppers languishing in jails, being unemployed, most disillusioned, with no morals, values, beliefs, habits etc . ; It is high time we have a re-look at today's education system.
Now coming to the Examination aspect of today's education system, it can be anything except being perfect. The focus of all school children, teachers, and parents is on examination. Examinations are not adjusted on completion of education, but education is adjusted seeing the examination timelines. The examination process is being taken care of by people who seldom teach in classrooms. The examination system has become a kind of test in itself. It has become a speed test, power test, appropriate language usage, and the ability to understand the question in the intended direction. The question paper setter is seeking the answer.
Who knows how the two to three-hour question paper on a particular date /place can test the knowledge, skills, abilities etc., of a child? The Examination's validity, reliability, and standardisation need a re-visit for determining the achievement of educational goals. But the larger question is that even if all these statistical properties were present, how can the system, for its own suitability and in times like the present pandemic, alter the duration of the examination and still deem it to be standardised/valid/reliable?
Have Examinations become a toy in the hands of the system to use it the way it likes, just because no one questions it? Are we losing crucial time for education for examinations? Is education being lost to examination? Examination reforms have always been advocated in this country, but nothing seems to be happening on the ground. We were not able to implement the last NPE in 34 years. Now the country has another NPE 2021. Hopefully, the new music beats are melodious to the ears, but the question is how and when?
The quest that humankind is behind, the pandemic that we are in today, results from the faulty education system. We need to start again. Start without boundaries, without a syllabus, without rigidity, without textbooks, without top-down approach, without - with.
Start this time with not 'A' for Apple but 'A' for Anything, Maybe.