Judging by the hoopla surrounding the board examination results, Indian school education is in decline. What we are witnessing is a kind of decadence. The media is only helping construct this decadence. It has little or no understanding of education, focuses on the most sensational and trivial aspects of school life, and is fetishising learning. Unfortunately, it is not just the media. The government, the examining boards, school managements, teachers, and, yes, parents have combined to bring Indian education to this pass.
We think that Indian schools are world-class institutions in the making, that our science and mathematics are the envy of others, and that Indian students are smarter and harder working than anyone else. None of this is true. Indian schools are in a shambles; our science and mathematics teaching are appalling; and our students, while intelligent and diligent, are of the same genetic material as other human beings and, given the burden of our curriculum, are in danger of losing their creativity and energy by the time they "succeed" in school examinations.
Our annual board results, IIT results and civil service examination results are feeding the frenzy over the search for the smartest and the most likely to succeed. This year, the frenzy over who "topped" the exams, which school produced the best results, how many students got into engineering colleges or got the best SAT results (the US college entrance test which is a 10th standard exam, at best!), and who headed the IIT entrance lists has been worse than ever.
The question is: how can it possibly be interesting educationally that student X got 95.6 per cent and was at the top of an examination list when it is likely that the next person, who never features in the public adulation, got 95.5 per cent? Does anyone seriously think that there...