Need to change our education system
I still remember the days when, in an over-flowing class of 52 students, a teacher would sit at the front desk grading piles of papers the students had submitted as part of their bi-monthly examination.
Those were the years when we prioritised grades over knowledge. As soon as the bi-monthly drew close, everybody turned tight-lipped. Nobody slacked. Everyone made sure to put in all-nighters and achieve good results in the bi-monthly. The classroom turned into a war zone. The whole atmosphere grew tense; friends turned into foes; healthy communication got replaced with jealousy and envy.
But once we started with our A levels, the level of competition decreased. Our school began to encourage us to participate in different co-curricular activities. Along with our studies, we also started getting involved in different activities of our choice. Courses became more creative and flexible; subjects got more interesting. Teachers started encouraging us to interact and exchange different ideas. Did this slacken us or make us lazy? Not a bit. Did this dilute the knowledge-gaining process? Not at all. On the contrary, this led us to work harder than ever before.
But not all Nepali students are fortunate enough to escape the grade trap. The culture of studying solely for exams afflicts even the university education in our country. Honestly speaking, universities and other institutions providing tertiary education in our country are hardly any different from the way most of our schools are. Wander around any one of the campuses or colleges that dot the Valley, and you will see right next to it a stationery or a photocopy shop selling notes and guidebooks of different subjects, which promise the students high grades and good results if they mug them up properly.
Our education system doesn’t promote personal initiatives, research and creativity. All we are made to do is mug things up by heart and write them down during exams. Peter W Bodde, the US Ambassador to Nepal, claimed in one of his articles that Nepal’s education is not preparing the youth for the 21st century. The fear of grades does not allow for self-expression and individual interests. We live in a constrained society dictated by strict paradigms. We are not given the opportunity to explore things ourselves.
Think of a 10-year-old boy who is made to repeat a year in school just because he cannot perform on the same level as his peers. Over time, he might just stop feeling capable of doing anything and might eventually quit trying. Is it right then to force him to perform according to certain set standards, if, at the end of the day, it might end up destroying his future? Who knows? The little 10-year-old boy might have been interested more in arts and literature than in maths and science. Who knows? This boy might have been a budding musician but a terrible student.
I have a friend who is a good guitarist. Another friend of mine is a professional comedian. And yet another loves tinkering with electronic devices. Then there is a rebel who always disagrees with everything and everyone. They all have their own interests and hobbies. They all hold different aspirations and want to achieve different things in their lives. Some of them are good students, while others are not. How can an inflexible, illiberal education system like ours cater to the interests of a struggling musician and a future engineer?
I wish things to change as soon as possible. I hope that a major overhauling of our education system takes place soon. In a liberal education system, which is what we need, personal initiatives and original ideas are valued more than rote learning. Competitions turn into collaborations and students enjoy what they learn and learn what they like the most. We have so many hidden talents around us who are shunned by the current education system, I hope our government does something to salvage those talents and make the best use of them.
Fast forwarding to today: I still continue to do what I love. Failures, though bitter, have shaped me and provided me with lessons that I shall always treasure. And my interests have taken me to places I had never imagined of. Yes, I love studying; but I also want to continue with my interests and hobbies.
source:Gupta, Bikash (2015),"Need to change our education system", The Kathmandu post,2 March 2015
Bikash Gupta did his SLC from a school in Siraha. He is a recent A-level graduate from Budhanilkantha School.
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