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The Indian education system is an enormously influential, albeit widely-criticized cog in the gear that drives so many of our lives. Although we must give it some credit for constantly attempting to reform itself, its flaws are something that just cannot be ignored. In particular, I would like to address the issue of undergraduate entrance examinations and its bizarre consequences. Shouldn’t India have a more holistic approach towards education and help students survive competitive exams?

In the sultriest and most uncomfortable months of the year, our nation’s most esteemed institutes conduct, what is believed by many, the hardest elimination exam ever. You know exactly what I am talking about. The insane difficulty of these exams has rendered our high schools obsolete. Gone are the days when we could come back from school/college and study at our own pace. The maddening competition in today’s world necessitates the search for a chaperone in these troubled times.

Let’s take a glimpse at the current plight of coaching centers. The additional classes that coach aspirants to face competitive exams have boomed in the past decade and the juggernaut never ceases to stop. The list of coaching institutes for 12th standard boards is endless. Tens of thousands of students, who shell out large sums of money, flock to these institutions in the hope of fulfilling their aspirations. Places like Kota have taken this to the next level by abolishing the physical activity of all kinds, subjecting students to harsh and unrealistic timetables. It has been even audacious enough to create “dummy schools” for JEE aspirants, where students don’t need to attend lectures at all. They exist only so that students can write their board exams and be qualified for the entrance.

Apart from the atrociously high suicide rates in these institutions, one must realize that this is defeating the very purpose of education. Education only thrives in a comprehensive approach. Its goal is to provide the same kind of education to everyone and focus on all the aspects of growth; it cannot function like bankrupt families who work all day just to keep their roofs from collapsing. Coaching institutes lure the best teachers by offering good salaries, leaving only mediocre teachers in schools. Today, schools are merely a formality, with importance given only to the semester exams.

There is only one solution to this conundrum: an integrated approach. Schools need to step up their game and give these coaching centers a run for their money. We need to break free from our redundant system and look beyond just textbooks. The high school experience is something that can never be replaced. The only way we can fix this is by combining the philosophy of schools with a slightly diluted version of the model that coaching classes follow. There could be a significant hike in fees, but it would definitely be less than paying for extra classes. Also, it will improve children’s quality of life as they will be left with more time to themselves.

Although the integrated approach has been adopted in many schools across the country, they do tend to lean away from the high school experience. The attempt is admirable and more schools should adopt this system. It’s the only way to better equip students to jump into the pool of competitive exams and excel tremendously in academics.

You may also like to read about the importance of examinations, as knowledge is not all about just education.


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