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Students in an academic pressure cooker

It has rightly been remarked in the editorial “Learning Education” (June 9) that education should be a process of learning rather than gobbling down pages of information which promotes rote system. Our education system suffers from narrative sickness. The teacher is telling the students and the latter are listening all the time. This turns the students into receptacles to be filled by the teachers.

Two maladies afflict our educational process — One is that we take too long to do too little; the other is that in most of our learning programmes, we underestimate the capacity of the learners.

We cannot put the students into an academic pressure cooker. It calls for a review of prevailing curricula and dropping what is peripheral and largely wasteful of the learners’ time.

For instance, for a secondary school course, the essentials are language skills, mathematics or some training in critical thinking and an introduction to the world of values through programmes in humanities and social studies.

Much harm is done in our schools and colleges by teachers who have stopped learning and who revel in the notion that the paths they traversed while young are the only reliable paths to learning. To this inertia, add the fervour of curriculum makers whose idea of improvement and progress is to add more items to the conventional syllabi.

We have reached a stage in our educational progress or stagnation, whichever way you interpret it, where it is imperative for us to look for alternatives to the system we have been living with. Those who talk of terminal points in education are obviously talking of formal education and are presumably obsessed with the traditional pattern of studying a third of one’s life learning without working, and spending the rest of one’s life working without learning.

The purely technical courses like polytechnics, ITIs and other skill oriented training establishments could be given new academic dimensions just as the traditional academic courses can be enriched with vocational programmes. Education is a big industry in India, but it does no consumer or product research. It is a protected industry, that is why it is inefficient but still thriving.



IIT, Delhi and IIT, Kanpur have rightly thought of defying government rule book. It is after a long time that academics in the country have stood up to political interference in autonomous functioning of premier institutions. I would like to draw the attention of current bunch of rulers to the fact that it was visionaries like BR Ambedkar who thought that such autonomy was desirable.

VC NANDA, Chandigarh

Security concern

J & K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that the Kashmiri Pandits are an integral part of the culture and ethos of Kashmir and Kashmiriyat (news report “Return of Pandits cherished goal, says Omar”, May 30). Besides its salubrious climate and romantic beauty, Kashmir was renowned for communal unity and cultural harmony. Pak-trained terrorists and local subversives and secessionists have destroyed its secular fibre and turned it into a killing field.

Their ethnic cleansing crusade resulted in the exodus of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits. Peace loving people wonder: kab nazar mein aaey gee bedaagh sabzey bahaar, khoon ke dhabbey dhulein gey kitni barsaaton key baad. If return of migrant Pandits to the Valley is really the cherished goal and desire of the government and the civil society, the CM should take concrete steps to facilitate the same and create a sense of security among them. Unless there is peace and Kashmiri Pandits are able to live fearlessly in their native houses with honour and dignity, pristine glory of the ‘paradise on earth’ cannot be brought back.


PM’s initiative

The decisions taken in the meeting held by the Prime Minister with his ministers to give a push to infrastructure sector are welcome (editorial “Spreading cheer”, June 8). New targets have been set up in aviation and power sectors. Huge investments are expected for the development of ports and roads. Another heartening expectation is the announcement of rate cut by the RBI.  We hope our economy will be once again in the ascendant.

For all this, we need money from all legitimate sources, local or foreign. The political class of the country should help evolve a conducive environment to attract investors. The central government should take the state governments into confidence and help them strengthen their economies. The Punjab government should also devote all its energies to boost its economy.


Charity or money-vending machines? 

It is an irony that the culturally enriched age-old education system of ‘deekshak, deeksha and dakshina’ followed in sacred ashrams has been replaced by the present-day money-minting institutes (news report ‘Charitable trusts flout norms’, June 9). Business-minded managers, a directionless education system and high tuition fees have replaced gurus (deekshak) who conceptualised the ‘simple living, high thinking’ lifestyle to educate disciples (deeksha) and received the rightfully deserved fees (dakshina).

The charitable trusts in the name of education run business houses where the trustees lead a luxurious lifestyle based on hard-earned money of others. How can we expect to produce culturally enriched and spiritually elevated pupils which the age-old education system once produced?

KK SOOD, Talwara 



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