India has Exam System, not Education System: PM’s Scientific Advisor

12 May 2011: Recently an interesting article appeared in Times of India, which throws light on the way education system is designed in India. This article consists of valuable extracts from the letter written to our PM, by the head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SACPM), Mr. C.N.R. Rao. On the whole, the article coming from the scientific adviser himself has remarks, fury, concern on our present education system and also solutions to make our present education system worthwhile.

Any country’s progress is marked by the potential of its youth. Right and quality education is the way to make your youth capable enough to lift up the country’s standards. India being a country empowered majorly by youth, still remains to be in the category of the ‘developing nations’ in the world. And if you dig out the reasons, why India is still lacking in terms of all round development, then you must go through this article.

Most of the part of this letter has Mr. Rao venting his anger on the way our education system is shaping up. His statement “India has examination system and not education system” tells us the whole gist of his thoughts. He has termed ‘exams’ as big menace. He had advised PM to have a clear look on how our higher education system concentrates only on preparing students to sit for pile of exams, such as, final examinations, qualifying examinations, entrance examinations, selection examinations and so on.

His clear explanation on how this examination system affects the students’ capability should be an eye opener for the education authorities as well as students who are mad after these exams. He viewed that these examinations, even the most difficult and purposeful examinations like IIT, have a very negative effect on the mind of the students, making these very young minds exhausted and unable to perform. This examination system is making the young minds suffer to the extent that in the process of preparing for examinations they are losing the excitement in education itself.

In spite of agonizing the students with all these examinations, he said that not even a single institution in India is equal to the best institutions in the advanced countries. He had very strongly vented out his fury, by asking the young students to stop taking exams and do something worthwhile.

He has also given the best national objective, which is seeing India emerge as the best provider of trained manpower for the entire world, probably in the next 20-30 years, which can be achieved by taking advantage of the young India.

Further as a solution to this current problem, Rao advised the PM to introduce American method of conducting exam that is holding only one national exam before joining the university. The SACPM has also prepared a 10-point checklist of key problems and challenges, which will be handed over to the human resources development ministry, asking them to set up a task force, which has to come up with an action oriented document in a year, suggesting the measures improve higher education.

Few important points of Rao’s checklist include, providing sufficient infrastructure to 10 educational institutions, making them on par with the best institutes in advanced countries. Increasing the opportunities for rural talent by increasing the number of residential schools up to higher secondary level. The most valuable and attractive point made in this checklist is preparing a vision document, which addressing the problem of manpower mismatch existing in many countries, due to too many professionals in some subjects. This vision document enables us to foresee the problems for 20 years and gives a direction to plan our manpower accordingly.

With so many true educationists condemning the present higher education system and naming it as worthless, it is now in the hands of the ministers, to frame policies, rules and regulations, leading to the emergence of the system, where students furnished with values, knowledge and skills are produced and definitely not stress bearing machines.