99 in maths but no seat in maths. What a joke.

SUMA RAMANNA writes from Madras: It is July again, and students and parents are busy with admissions. This time the television news channels have also joined hands; they are telecasting the “cut-off percentages” of various universities to help the students. 

Watching these cut-off percentages leaves me astonished and more than a little frightened.

Because the cut-off percentages range from 89-95 per cent. I saw one parent who was upset because his child didn’t get through in the first list for BSc (maths) in spite of getting 99 out of 100 in maths, with an overall 92%. 

If a student with 99 per cent in maths can’t get a maths seat, who should?

The cut-off for commerce is 95 per cent. For arts, it is 90 per cent. Yes, you read that right, 90 per cent in a subject that need requires writing skills and lengthy answers.

What kind of a joke has our education, evaluation and admission system become? 

The ridiculously high cut-off percentages also prompt me to wonder whether these numbers really carry any weight. Yes, it is true that getting 92 per cent marks is not a joke but the questions dogging my mind are:

1. Do the students who secure such high marks really have in-depth knowledge or are they just being equipped to score high marks?

2. If they haven’t acquired the knowledge, is the purpose of education being served by such a lax evaluation system?

3. In a hurry to give education to all and in the name of competition are we creating just literates, not educated persons?

4. Are we not just forcing children to score more by hook or crook, thereby encouraging private tuitions and coaching classes?

5. And, above all, what hope for those who score less than these sky-high cut-off percentages?

I know that that this is a competitive world. I know that because of the exposure of modern-day youngsters, they are better equipped to score more and they are scoring more.

But I aslo feel that the existing system of examination and evaluation is creating a false, even artificial, edifice. Instead of instilling knowledge, they are only leaving our students better informed than previous generations.

And, in the process, they are giving us a false, even artificial, notion of the health of our education system.  

Our PUC marks sheet were of no use after getting admission in a college (unless, of course, you wanted to join Infosys) but the pressure of scoring such high marks is really to blame for the stress that students undergo, not to speak of the suicides.

Who are we kidding with such high marks?

Is it not time to change our education, evaluation and admission system?