Fatal predominance of medicine and engineering as career options in Kashmir

Avenues and Opportunities after class 10th

Class 10th annual exams are finally over and some more than fifty thousand students who appeared in these exams, and their parents are finally having a sigh of relief.  The Board of school Education has started the evaluation and the results are most probably going to be declared within the next six weeks. While anxiously waiting for the outcome the students certainly need some time to chill and respite, but for the enticing advertisements in our local newspapers and cable news channels once again there is palpable tension in every such family where they have prospective class 11th students. The private institutions have already issued notifications for admission to class 11th and the government run higher secondary schools would also start the provisional admission process within a few days.

As a matter of fact, it is the coveted occasion of exercising an option and making a choice from among the available streams or subject combinations which would make them eligible for future academic, professional and technical pursuits.

Consequently, the parents as well as their children inevitably find themselves at the crossroads of this very first stage of career planning and decision making. A wrong choice made due to lack of awareness or socio-cultural considerations at this very first stage may have adverse ramifications for the future of the student.

Career consciousness:

Although we find a large section of students very focused, well informed and career conscious much before than this penultimate event of exercising a choice and opting for various subject combinations being offered under various streams in the valley or outside the valley.  Yet, there is equally a significant number of students who due to various reasons are not exactly sure about the stream or the combination of subjects that they should opt for in their next higher class i.e. class 11th.

Either due to their own negligence, peer pressure or due to lack of guidance from their teachers or parents,they seem to be confused and not sure about what they should opt for. In most of the cases we see that the parents or the elder siblings decide and impose their opinion on the children whose aptitudes, likes and dislikes are totally ignored.

Another large chunk of students who belong to the first generation learners, where we see no parental pressure or guidance, naturally follow herd instincts and adjust themselves in this way or that way to carve out a career for themselves.

Thus due to lack of organised efforts at career counselling and career planning a large number of students end up with mere degrees and diplomas in the areas which they may otherwise never need in the professions they find themselves in. For instance, how absurd it is to find a Dental Surgeon (BDS) working in banking industry and now pursuing an MBA through IIBF/IGNOU for career progression. Similarly, we find Chemical Engineers doing something where a person with a degree in literature or social science would be a perfect fit.  Why don’t we refrain from making Farhan (3 idiots) an engineer instead of a wild life photographer, that he eventually wanted to be. GIVE ME SOME SUNSHINE ……. GIVE ME SOME RAIN…….GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE ………….

Normally a student should much earlier, consciously explore all the possible career options and in consultation with parents, peers and teachers make an informed choice. The students while in class 10th need to be adequately sensitised about the world of work, the eligibility criteria and the requisite skill sets needed to enter various professions or vocations in life.

Parents push their children to streams which are either not suitable or are quite contrary to the aptitudes and interests of their children, just because they want them to do something which either they have successfully done or not done.Someone’s exemplary achievement due to extraordinary abilities (prodigies) and strenuous hard work, should not be considered a bench mark for others to replicate. The far-fetched comparisons with siblings, neighbours, relatives and peers should in all cases be avoided. The parental pressure to study a discipline in absence of motivation or aptitude definitely results in dismal academic performance and the emergence of subsequent complexes, psychological disorders or delinquencies.

So the instant need is to provide opportunities to these young-adults to choose whatever worthwhile they want to pursue and prudently extend full support without enforcing any kind of opinion on them. Before taking any decision the students and the parents should realistically empathise with each other, the parents should give space to the children and the children should appreciate the concerns of the parents as well. The children should be made to realise in a very friendly and objective manner that parents would never wish wrong for their loved ones and would never want them unemployed or underemployed.

Here in the valley of Kashmir we see a fatal predominance of medicine and engineering as a career option to such an extent that to some parents there seem to be no other alternatives. We pressurise our children to excel beyond their optimum levels to compete in NEET and JEE, if they do not get a seat here we would not hesitate to send them to even Antarctica.If children loathe mathematics they are thrusted/ pushed into streams where good numerica aptitude is essential.

However, children need to understand that merely learning guitar, singing, modellingor pursuing some weird interest could be a part of hobby and coterminous with the main academic pursuit.

Options available:

Broadly speaking the three streams available to the students after class 10thin the school education system are Science, Commerce and Humanities/Social science (Liberal Arts). Apart from these there are various Technical and Vocational courses available through Poly Technique Colleges and Industrial Training Institutes under the technical education system.

Academic streams:

Science:

In the science stream the three available choices are PCB, PCM and PCBM.  If any student aims to make a career in medicine or life sciences, He/she has to necessarily opt for Physics, Chemistry and Biology. After clearing class 12th the student would be eligible to appear in NEET (National Eligibility Entrance Test) conducted by NTA. In addition to Medicine (MBBS/BDS/ BVSE) such students are also eligible for various courses where biology is a prerequisite.

The Students who choose Non-medical streamPCM(Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) are eligible to appear in JEE Main (Joint Entrance Examination) a national level exam for admission to IIT’s NIT’s etc. Studying Maths up to at least 12th class opens up tremendous career opportunities in future through various competitive exams. It should be a preferred choice of all those who are comfortable in maths.

The students who want to keep both the options of medicine and engineering open opt for PCBM (Physics, Chemistry Maths and Biology). However, this option is a bit difficult and needs much more efforts.

Commerce:

This stream has always been in demand and offers a plethora of career options in the fields of accountancy, business administration, entrepreneurship and corporate entities.Later on in addition to Charted accountancy, Cost accountancy, Company Secretary the commerce background becomes an added advantage in pursuing BBA, MBA etc.

Humanities, Social Sciences and Home Science:

The field of Humanities, Social sciences and Home Science which earlier was not comparatively so alluring is now fast emerging as a preferred choice. An ever increasing number of meritorious students are purposefully opting for it due to a broader scope in teaching and research, including its utility in competitive exams. The subjects offered in different combinations are Economics, Political Science, Public Administration, History, Sociology, Home Science, Education,Psychology, Literature,Geography, Urdu etc.

Technical and vocational courses:

Class 10th pass outs are eligible to take admission in various engineering diploma courses being offered in Polytechnique colleges. There are some 5600 seats in the civil, electrical, mechanical, computer, IT and various other technical branches which are filled through an entrance examination conducted by JKBOPEE.A Diploma holder in engineering is eligible for lateral entry admission in B.tech courses and AICTE has extended scholarship benefits under PMSSS to Lateral entry also.

Moreover, there are Industrial Training Institutes offering NCVT (National Council of Vocational Training)courses in various trades which are not only job oriented but have tremendous potential for self-employment.

Keeping in view the bourgeoning proportion of unemployment and the present dependence on outside skilled human resource our students should seriously think about these technical and vocational courses.

The National Skills Development Corporation through flagship scheme “Skill India” and PMKVY is vigorously offering avenues in skill development and Entrepreneurship.

In my personal evidence based observation I have found that the present generation having comparatively more aptitude in technical and mechanical fields need to be counselled about the opportunities right after their passing of class 10th.

In this endeavour our teachers working in High and Higher Secondary schools particularly in far flung areas can conduct awareness sessions to channelize the talent in the right direction and at the right time.

Author is a Principal and academic councillor. (firdous.wani@gmail.com)

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