Competition drawbacks

Focus should be on students'' potential, and not on marks scored in examinations

Sajad Bazaz
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 16 2018 11:53PM | Updated Date: Nov 16 2018 11:53PM
Competition drawbacksRepresentational Pic

Let's continue to debate the system governing our education sector. Talk to any student about what makes them so anxious and stressful, almost everyone of them will give a one-word answer. Competition.

In every field, competition has always remained a buzzword. It's this competition which leaves no room for complacency. And being complacent is considered either a way to stagnant growth or a door to failure. Precisely, competition drives you from good to great. Be an unemployed or employed youth, a student or an entrepreneur, a working lady or a house wife, everybody is engaged in competition. In this competitive environment we see lot of people taking unnecessary risks and get themselves woven in a do or die situation. But when this competition is applied to students, especially the school going children, the scenario is not healthy.

We have a unique modernised education system, which breeds stress and frustration more than infusing physical, mental and spiritual confidence among our children. The drivers of this system are parents whose pressure or what we call expectations and academic performance are the major factors contributing to the high level of stress that is plaguing the minds of our young students. They want their wards to be more or less as plaques through academic and extracurricular achievements, causing huge stress in children. Toddlers as young as 6 years of age are put into a variety of competitions where failure isn’t an option.

On one hand we talk of modernizing our education system, on the other we still bank upon an examination system which is still primitive and breeds only fear among students. We have a teaching community instilling the fear of examination even from primary grades. They have evolved a culture of continuous testing which engulfs the primary school curriculum. The whole chain of private schools operating in our state use the stick of punitive measures to ensure that teachers concentrate on pushing students to improve their scores. 

Does it induce competitiveness? Of course it does, but at a massive cost of burning out the natural desire to learn in children. Precisely, In the given system even some of our best teachers are forced to act like coaches and drill masters.

When you talk to a student about their learning pattern, you would find their minds loaded with the only message: “Focus on the examinations.”  They have been made to believe that scoring marks, and marks alone, matter. Even our colleges and universities do not consider it necessary to apply their mind to assess the student’s potential. They go by the student’s marks scored in previous examinations. Here the parents are left with no option but to push children to work for the highest possible aggregate, rather than to pursue individual interest. This kind of pushing may guide the student to score marks, but it cause huge damage to the student’s confidence. This system undermines the student's ability and potential if he/she has not scored well in the examinations.

So, what is needed to bail out students from the clutches of stress and frustration. I think, we need a change in attitude. We need a change in attitude of parents, teachers and our educationists. This cannot be achieved by the mere imparting of factual information and practical skills. It is the cultivation of the ability to analyse, the desire to question and the courage to challenge convention. Development of a good student to a great extent rests on the educational institutes and the type of education and opportunities given to the students. The parents also should come out of the narrow expectations of making their children an engineer or a doctor but allow them to develop their innate skills. They should cooperate with the schools to implement the reforms initiated for the betterment of the children.

Even as we produce brilliant and intelligent students, they are not an outcome of the current educational system. They are what they are despite the system. The focus of any system, especially at primary education stage, should be to benefit all and not merely some. One more obsession that the current educational system faces is the burden of information in the curriculum. If emphasis is given on understanding and creativity rather than memorizing information, much of the bloat from the curriculum can be simply removed.

The need of the hour is to ponder over these competition driven drawbacks in our education system and suggest a reformation where the focus is on children's potential and not on their grades scored in examinations.

(The views are of author & not the institution he works for)

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