Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So you think Mr.Sibal

- By Arpan Ganguly (MA Economics, II Year) and Anu Salelkar (MA Sociology, II Year)

Championed as a prolific and exemplified reform, Sibal's school educational plan aims at integrating the tumultuous disparity in the structure of the school educational system that prevails in the country at present. Amidst the surmountable acclaim that the reform has received from various quarters, the need of addressing the disparity at the grassroots level seems to have been ignored, yet again. The plan seems to possess the same structural constraints that several other reforms in the recent past have been a victim of.

Considering the vast cultural and social diversity that permeates within different sections of the society, addressing these differences through a single reform seems unnervingly preposterous. What needs to be recognised is that the educational priorities in one State might be diametrically opposite to those that exists in other States.The question that needs to be deliberated in this context is whether Sibal's approach towards addressing this disparity does consider the array of logical and technical hurdles that belie the efficient working of any such reform.

The reforms seem to address this disparity by making Class X exams optional and by introducing a grading system as a substitute for the existing marking pattern followed by all educational institutions across the nation.The implementation of such a grading system fails to address the incoherent classroom atmosphere perpetrated by student-teacher biases and unrealistic parental expectations, which constitutes towards the additional burden faced by students. Moreover, the existing bias towards certain disciplines (like engineering and medical) coupled with increased competition leading to a process of internalisation on behalf of the students, constitutes in curbing their individual choices. The proposed education plan seems to partially address this heterogeneity as students would have to adjust from a grading system at matriculation to a percentage based module in the higher secondary level. The reform reflects a constricted view pertaining to its approach towards changing the educational structure in the country as its a fallacy on behalf of the policy makers to assume homogeneity among students from diverse social backgrounds.

Incidents such as a girl in West Bengal (as reported in The Statesman a few years ago) being beaten up by her parents on passing the Xth board exams as she would no longer get the mid-day meal, is a concern way beyond the purview of any such reform. A platform conducive for the development of a student's cognitive ability, constructive criticism of the existing syllabi etc cannot be provided for by a reform which considers the implementation of a grading system to successfully address the existing systemic constraints of the Indian educational system.

You can see the salient features of all the proposed reforms here. (Editors)

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