As high school pass outs throng the Delhi University colleges, expecting and dreading at once the extraordinarily high cut-off lists that the colleges are ritually coming out with, it’s a depressing situation everywhere. For every one top scorer, with percentage points hovering sky high at 99, 98, 97 per cents in the Class XII CBSE examinations, there are several who are left in the lurch, even though they managed to cross the grand threshold of 90 percentage points. Many of the so-called top colleges, some of which are already in the process of severing links with the over-a-century old university and working on substantiating their status as ‘autonomous ivory towers,’ have anyway decided to go their own way and turn back even those with over 95 percentage points in the Class XII examinations. A theatre of absurd is being played out in the college campuses, with cut-offs for subjects like political science, English literature, history, economics rocketing up every year, though no definite increase in the standard of education amongst the new crop of students has been registered. It’s a double whammy of sort, wherein, first the examinations are designed to test skills that involve more of cramming and remembering data and facts, rather than developing real analytical and argumentative skills that are essentially the basis of higher education. In fact, school level curricula, it has been reported, are doing away with humanities subjects altogether, in the hope of offering the students subject combinations that are geared towards maximum point scoring. This is a terribly flawed format, that emphasises the need to merely rank high and obtain greater points, rather than developing basic understanding and firming the fundamentals.
On the other hand, the university admission process, particularly at a central institution like DU, also reinforces the need to simply obtain ridiculously high scores (99 in English, for example) as the means and true end of quality education, happily sacrificing the importance of honing research capabilities, or even doing in-depth studies that forms the bedrock of any global university education structure. In fact, by replacing entrance tests with cut-off marks for subjects like English and Journalism, the university has done a great disservice to the meaning and objective of education. As more and more students are left stranded, with even the ‘second tier’ colleges turning them down, they are left with no option to strike a compromise between either the choice of subject or the choice of college, sometimes scrapping both. It seems, DU will shut its door to mediocre students who could obtain only 60-70 per cent in the Class XII tests, thanks to the skewed and biased modes of conducting these assessments. Clearly, Delhi University, once a hotbed of intellectual churnings that attracted students from every corner of the country, that facilitated a mixing of cultures and cuisines and ideas and festivals, and let students and teachers mingle, would now become the fortress of only the elite scorers, who have probably have their class background and proficiency in English language to extol for their positions as the topmost in the unfair marks pyramid.