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Millennium Post

Speaking of achievements

Speaking of achievements

With the declaration of CBSE results for classes X and XII, we are once again brought abreast with the crucial matters in the formative years of the mighty resource for India to bank on: its demographic dividend, its youth. First among the various aspects to race to the forefront with this news is the college and course of choice that a high-scoring student prefers. The undercurrent to this rush is what the student really wants – and this is more complicated than it appears. This profound question to a fledging adolescent: 'What do you want to do? In life, in future, in studies..?' – it is assumed that a young and curious achiever of impossible amount of marks will genuinely want to just study! And what of those who did not accomplish a story-worthy result? They are, in fact, the more challenging ones because it is they who will not fall into the convenient tracks of top-notch medical and engineering institutions; perhaps not even a general Honours course of enviable repute is their cup of tea. They could be the ones whose regular middle-class parents must be panic-stricken to learn that their child is contemplating being some kind of an artist – and innocently courting destitution! There are students who chose not to drop a year for IIT after a very narrow miss and went to NLS, Bangalore instead. There are students who enslaved themselves to qualify for studying medicine at India's best institution, only to say with a sigh at the end of five years 'I wish I could afford a chance and try for Civil Services..'. With respect to institutional privilege, Economics Honours (or any course for that matter) at St. Stephens (for instance) gives a student much more than what a mushroomed medical or engineering college by the highway could ever give. And there are those, too, whose less than stellar academic capability raise doubts on them even making it to a regular college. But ten years down the line, you might witness for yourself a Phunsukh Wangdu type of phenomenon out of the blue! The bottom line is that the very first academic milestones are not the determinants of an individual's future, they may be reliable indicators at best. There is a significant qualitative difference between the learning received at school and the learning that ought to be encouraged at college. Ideally, learning has just one principle: to enhance one's capacity to absorb and process information so as to put it to productive use subsequently. Pedagogy is an intricately intertwined phenomenon to facilitate reasonable to best possible learning, depending on what could be afforded. Challenges to pedagogy divert attention the shadows behind the annual sparkles of 'fantastic results': the sad state of affordable schools for most Indians, the perennial shortage of teachers, the difficult journey of school years and then the pitiable higher education as if to insult those who kept up their grit to attain an education. And given the contemporary crisis of severe unemployment, how far can conventional formal education push one through life? Soon the multitude of these bright young achievers might ask this question. And who is answerable to them? Parents, society, and government, all of them. There is no dearth of well-performing youth in India but there needs to be a reasonable market to absorb the plethora of talent. The persisting challenge of job generation is a very elementary socio-economic necessity. Given the aspirations of these young graduates, there needs to be plenty of avenues for them to express themselves and contribute to a prospering and progressive society. The generations they are entrusted to is answerable to them.

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