Through the Iron Gate

Ultimately theoretical knowledge fails to rule in the absence of practical ideas, time flies and millions come rushing out of the Iron Gate annually, with useless School Leaving Certificate in hand. And my question is answered.

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At times when I reflect on my school days, I recall the frustrations with our tenth grade syllabus and vividly remember asking myself, “Am I getting anything useful out of this course?” Nowadays, as I observe juniors heavily preparing for approaching SLC exams, I again ask, “Are these students actually learning something?”, or is it simply a battle for a certificate.

The culture of cramming must have found its origins in our society because most of the exams we take based off of Nepali curriculum are more of a memory test, not actual assessment. The easiest method used by most students is to learn everything by heart—as if learning the lyrics to a song and singing them well during the test. The better you memorise, the better you sing and the more you score. These tests of rote learning have been used since the time of our grandfathers.

Whether you call it learning by heart, learning by memory or anything else, it’s doesn’t amount to much more than programming ROM on a computer. For as long as the ROM exists, the computer will boot up in the same way no matter how many times it is turned on without it ever understanding the meaning of the codes programmed on its chip. Most exams in Nepal are like memory tests, add some more pressure from the parent’s side and it becomes a factor to ruin the childhood of students. This might seem like a review of the Bollywood blockbuster 3Iidiots but it’s the truth, and we need to break away from this method of education.

They say that books are sources of information. But they never stated that books are also the source of knowledge. Knowledge is achieved by interpreting the information in books. Again recalling my nights studying for the SLC, I remember the easiest way to deal with Environment, Population and Health, Social Studies and Nepali was to install a ROM for oneself on these subjects overnight. To go beyond that to actually interpret any information was simply out of reach.

In other sections, repetitive questions can be dealt with with ease thanks to the line of questioning. The questions are predictable, and more than that, are bound to be duplicated from the locally available guess papers. This is of benefit not to teachers or students but to the publishers of these question banks and guess papers.

I remember my friends calling optional math “Bato patta lagau” for the beginning and the ends were given and all one had to do was to plug in appropriate formulas and clear up the maze. As students continue to struggle to pass the SLC, the gap between aspirations and achievements of the Ministry of Education widens with only minute, nearly unnoticeable changes, being made in some of its books. Ultimately theoretical knowledge fails to rule in the absence of practical ideas, time flies and millions come rushing out of the Iron Gate annually, with useless School Leaving Certificate in hand. And my question is answered.

 

source: Yadav, Anik(2011),"Through the Iron Gate", The Kathmandu Post, 11 feb 2011

2011-02-14 | EducateNepal

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