Exams & Education System

“Education is a continuous process, Di. We learn each and every day. Don’t you acquire knowledge even today? Long after you have received your degrees?”

“Yes”, I answered meekly to my cousin brother’s question. I had to agree with him. Abhimanyu, my cousin, has done remarkably well in his ICSE  exam and, now he is preparing for the ISC as well as the Joint Entrance Exams (JEE). He is an excellent orator having the gift of the gab and, he uses his skill effectively to win any debate with me.

“There are faults in our education system”, he continues, “but, trust me, the system is not entirely responsible for making education a rat race for us, the students.The conundrum starts when the parents want to reflect their unfulfilled dreams, unattainable ambitions through their children.” He finished his statement with a tone of finality.

I knew he was right. I have seen/heard innumerable cases in my life where the children were obliged to their parents while choosing a career. Fortunately, this was not the case in our family. I never wanted to chase after an engineering or medical degree and, I needed not to do that against my will. Abhimanyu, on the other hand, always wanted to be an engineer. He is preparing himself for that even before his ICSE exams.


The discussion actually started on that issue. The JEE Main schedule for 2017 has been announced. He was planning a routine for his studies and, I  made the mistake of teasing him saying that education means not only the marks which students score in those precious three hours!

Abhimanyu, like many other students, depends on this site to get the necessary information on colleges, admissions, and exams. While checking on the details, his riposte about education and its ambit made me proud again as an elder sister. I went through the eligibility criterion and the schedule as well. Not much time is left for those students aspiring for the JEE Main. As a National Level Exam, it needs a lot of hard work and consistency on the part of the students to succeed. Students who seek admissions to one of the seven zonal IITs, have to clear JEE Advanced as well. While the JEE Main syllabi are almost in the same line with the ISC,  JEE Advanced has some more topics to be covered for the exam.

Considering the situations, I think I’m not going to perturb my cousin’s peace of mind and concentration for the coming months. That doesn’t mean an end to all debates and mock-fight between us, but I won’t mind having a truce for the sake of his success in the upcoming exams.


69 responses to “Exams & Education System

  1. That is a very wise decision. At this juncture, a student’s mind is crowded with several worries and may easily get confused. It is best to let them concentrate on the task at hand according to their own preferences.

  2. Indeed these questions gain greater significance in today’s context and being in same field, I can feel the disconnect the learner and the teacher have when they are engaging in the routines of learning and teaching. The definition of education per se has lost its meaning in the cacophony of commercialization of education which has taken over the mantle of education in our society. These are few brands and these are few streams that dominates and decides the course of many young lives in our society where different talents gets strangulated in these frames of IIT/IIM and Engineering/Medical…careers and opportunities have broken the barriers and convention has lost its relevance and other facets of life which can make an individual equally productive and engaging in the society where he/she can learn and earn and live a life of its choice…
    A thought, a question like this can change the way we think and sets new ground to cover and present a new perspective in our life.😀

    • You are absolutely right, Nihar. The specific and limited choice of subjects for different streams are killing the interest and attraction of students towards education. I fail to understand why one can’t study literature along with physics if she/he has an inclination for both.

      So glad to see you here after a long time. Hope everything is going well at your end. You are back to blogging, I guess, I’ll check your blog soon….🙂

      • Very ironical where the world is moving towards multi-disciplinary and inter disciplinary subjects we are still trapped in single stream subjects…mechanics and and electronics have come together, biotechnology and software analytics have come together…you are absolutely right why can’t physics and literature go hand in hand…

        Yes, everything is fine, just couldn’t take time away form the work load at organisation front, hence passion had to take a back seat I know it is not a good situation nor a good idea to keep passion and profession away for such long…

        Thanks so much and I will be reading your many posts I had missed…
        I know Kolkatta must be in full festivity mood.😀

  3. सुंदर प्रस्तुति मनिपर्णा! अभिमन्यु को असिम शुभकामनाएं।

  4. Agree totally Maniparna – “Success – it depends on you!” It reminded me of an article I happened to read recently by a very young girl on our education system, syllabus and little more! Somehow her thoughts and my experiences made me wonder whether the whole syllabus is ‘out of syllabus’ or the approach ‘out of tune’ with life?
    An interesting conversation with your cousin there… Best wishes and good luck to him!
    Just a thought here …… Success, it depends on you….and what you call ‘success’ defines you!

    • True that, Mridhula. I often wonder that, whether our syllabus helps us to move further in every way of life. Why can’t a student choose history and mathematics at the same time in our system!

      Loved your last line..what we call ‘success’, defines us…so well said..so very meaningful🙂

      • Precisely Mani! Why not history and mathematics at the same time? Aptly you said it! I would also love an inclusive system with arts, crafts, sports, soft skills, agriculture, cooking, electrical works, plumbing, carpentry etc. – I mean things we need for day-to-day living! Learning theorems and theories for higher level may be fine but I have seen and felt it doesn’t suit all, neither does it help in facing life’s challenges!
        The conversation you had with your cousin -liked it!🙂 Thanks Mani for sharing! Education is a continuous process, frankly, I feel ‘m learning better now than when at school or college!

  5. We are all caught in this quagmire of competition and having a firm vision is vital for the future of any child. I have passed through this syndrome not once but twice in quick succession with both my boys taking the boards in two consecutive years and then the mother of all exams, the JEE Main and Advanced. All the four years, honestly were traumatic for the children as well as for the parents with expectations rising sky high and this is a natural reaction when they do exceedingly well in the boards! My younger son cracked both the exams but his rank was not sufficient to earn him the branch of his choice, he let it go as he was more or less focussed on what he wanted, but the agony and the toll does tell on all of us as the race to the top is becoming exceedingly difficult.
    I have written a post on the day he took the main JEE Main and you could read it at https://adsunsri.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/the-anxiety-epidemic/
    Cheers for ruminating on a topic that is at the core of all young intellects and wishing your nephew all the best to come out with flying colours!

    • I can understand the anxiety and expectation on part of the parents as well. The tension is in the family as well. My cousin (he is not my nephew ), is feeling nervous as well, though he tries to hide it by acting smart. To manage the ISC and JEE almost at the same time, is strenuous, for both mind and body. But, sigh, that’s the system…

      Thanks for the link, Sunita, I enjoyed reading your post. Perhaps, I would be writing such a post when my son would be competing for these exams…😀

      • Sorry for the faux pa..wishing your cousin well, afterall there is art in smart!
        That day will not be far off as time flies sooner than we all can imagine..which grade is he in now?

  6. I think parents are meant to guide their children but sometimes a student has not aptitude in an area they see as “worthless,” like art, music or teaching. If a person knows their favorite subject or area to go farther, it is best to allow this development. This was a very well thought out essay and example, Maniparna.🙂❤

  7. Sending the best of luck wishes to your cousin it sounds like he will do well….he will because it is what he wants in life

  8. A person may pass several exams and yet remain uneducated for real education is ‘skin deep’…it is what has percolated deep down into our hearts and souls after we have learnt all the books given to us.

    Exams are necessary to prove that we have learnt something…that is the main malady of our education system. Lately schools have liberalised and westernised formal education to the extent of cumulative assessment, which has brought big disaster of lowering the standards of education. Aping the west blindly boomerangs. Now we have 100 percenters even in Languages!!
    Thanks Mani, for highlighting the issue of coercing children into unreasonable choices.

  9. Rat race, peer pressure, parents pressure ..most students have to face all these. A comprehensive site that provides useful information about JEE would be helpful for students preparing for engineering entrance.

  10. I like how he is so clear about what he wants and is devoting so much time and effort to get to it! I am supposedly older and wiser but I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. At least we are lucky that we got to choose our paths.

  11. I am so pleased your own family is not forcing a career path against your wishes or that of your cousin.. When your heart is not in your subject or career path it must be a hard road to follow the wishes of ones parents..
    I know a little of this, I always wanted to go and study art and was told my school I should go onto study in college. But my family could not afford even if they had wanted me to.. I was the eldest of 5 siblings and the first to be turned out to work.. So at 15 when I left school I didn’t have a choice but was made to work in a factory..
    It all turned out in the end as I worked my way up to manager head of training many years later🙂 but not all are happy..

    Thank you for sharing about the education system where you are.
    Love Sue

    • 15 is such a tender age, Sue! And, you are working since then. My respect and love for you have even more enhanced knowing this. You are a self-made person, you tamed success by your own will, determination and effort. Kudos to you!❤❤

      • That was the age we left school back then Mani, unless you went onto further education. A few years after I left the school leaving age then went to age 16. Now you can leave School but must either follow an apprenticeship or traineeship until you are 18.
        It all worked out well.. While a Manager of training in Textiles I went out to Sri Lanka and helped set up training schemes within textiles there. I even met the then prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranayake with a trade delegation from the London Chamber of Commerce back then.. Then in 2002 I made a conscious career change due to my health and became a Support Worker, looking after Adults with learning difficulties, within Mental Health.
        A wonderful rewarding job I did until 2 yrs ago when I decided to stop working and spend time with my husband who is retired..
        All was part of the Universal Plan I think🙂

    • So, you had a colourful service life🙂 Now you are engaging with the green beauties of your garden as well…that’s an immense source of satisfaction and happiness. Wish you all the best with everything you are doing and will do in the future…🙂❤

  12. I did icse. . 😀😀 I wish sometimes I was not forced to go for science. . I think I waste a lot.of years .. had t do as my grand dad wanted me to
    . He had to give up because I could not fulfill his dream.. but had he understood earlier things would have been different for me perhaps.. There is always this what if. What if..

    But anyway what is to be .. is to be. Kids these days are more equipped .. my best wishes to the young man…

  13. This was definitely something we could all relate to, especially us living in this part of the world. Parents often pressurise their child too much and he ends up picking up a subject he doesn’t like and later he’s miserable. I hope this trend changes for better !

  14. I suppose the way society is structured economically in its relentless pursuit of efficiency, and the mainstream media’s promulgation of that ethos, together as a whole feed into an overly narrow definition of what comprises an education and what constitutes success therein? Over here in England there’s an incipient rejection of the received wisdom that university training produces more rounded and capable individuals. Blessings on the day, dear Mani!

    • You are right, Hariod. The economic structure, as well as the social one, is responsible for the formation of societal ethos. Education has lost its meaning in the real sense and prestigious institutions have become factories for producing a bunch of doctors and engineers with loads of degrees. The practicality of education is somewhat missing.

      That reminded me, Tagore never received conventional education.

      Thank you so much for sharing your valuable thoughts…🙂 Have a nice weekend.

  15. The young man is right. Parents force engineering aur doctori on young to boost ego of self-pride. We need to let the kids be themselves. It’s such a demotivation. There was a time when I felt bad, thinking to be dumb in comparison to the ones clinching awaal number. I was an average student and a late developer. What my friends could assimilate in 30 mins, I’d take four hours to do the same. Just imagine my plight. The system ensure that I am dumb…hehe

    • You nailed it, Vishal! There lies the greatest flaw of the education system. They want to make a fish sing and a bird swim! If students are allowed to study the subjects they actually want to, things would have changed a LOT.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts…🙂

  16. Hi M! I love how the anecdote deals with a major issue in a subtle way – the state of our education system and the idea of success. I remember the so-called crucial time 6 years ago when I had to write my JEE etc. I hated that process. I hated the fact that I had to ‘score’to prove my intelligence. What if I am a slow thinker?
    Well, today I have a career I am proud of. I found something that suits my temperament and that’s what matters.
    I hope your nephew makes a good engineer though. We have too many engineers these days and I am sorry about the fact that more than half of those take up the field of study because of peer pressure and eventually make crap engineers! We need people with passion to take the field forward and I hope Abhimanyu can do that🙂 All the luck to him!

    • “Well, today I have a career I am proud of. I found something that suits my temperament and that’s what matters.”- YES..only that matters.
      And, what you have said, is so true. Parents, in this country, behave as if there is no other career than medical or engineering! This is ultimately making the society a crap one…

  17. Good luck to your cousin, Mani. He sounds like a level-headed guy, having achieved so much already. Agree with you learning is more than just what we do in school. It is a life-long process. I thought I learnt a lot when I finished my university degree where I did arts and maths. I was so wrong. Tackling the workforce is a whole other ballgame, and so is maintaining professional and social networks🙂

    As for parents wanting to channel their dreams into their kids, that I have to agree with. As you might know, too often these dreams in Asian (Indian included) families are “practical”😉 I guess some parents just want to see their dreams come true and hope their child will take an interest in it. And you know, some children do🙂

    • You are right, Mabel. This trait is prominent is Asian countries and ‘brain-drain’ has become a process almost. Still, parents want their children to join prestigious institutions and when they leave the country for a job in the West, they think, their children are now “really successful”. What an irony!

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