I am an engineer. Before joining engineering, I had to go through counselling. I’ll explain! We were counselled (more like count and selling of college seats for the highest bidder) on what courses to take and what college to join in. (electronics was the hype then, and we wanted to take anything in electronics! No amount of counselling was going to convince us to take computer or IT or mechanical. Yup! We were that sure electronics was going to rule the world of…………… We had no clue! We just knew it will rule the world. )
There were quota systems and engineering seats were reserved for certain group of people. If you are not aware of the Tamil Nadu quota systems, let me explain in brief. It was a caste-based quota system. Special preference to SC, ST, OBC, and BC (I am not going to expand the abbreviation. Just google these along with Tamil Nadu, you’ll get a lot of information. ). None to OC (other castes, more like outcasts). There was a guy in the line for candidates attending the counselling along with me and several others.
The candidates were being called out for counselling based on our score in the “engineering entrance exam” and HSC finals. The aggregate was a sum of the entrance exam and math and science final exam marks (Am I boring you? Are you bored? Tell me damn it? Now don’t doze off….Interesting story ahead). The guy’s score was a good 40 marks below mine, and he was called out before me and a few others. Caste-based quota!
Now! this is a very normal situation. I’ve faced this a ton of times. The calling out was not what was irritating, it was the guy’s father. He was blatantly asking people for their score and boasting that his son got into a good college when his score was this low (I had never seen anyone this ecstatic that their child had scored low marks…. My mom could have learnt a few tips from this guy!). This incident has stayed with for more than 2 decades. This is the first time I am writing about it.
Is this healthy? The guy was obviously wealthy (he was wearing a Raymond shirt to engineering counselling. Seriously!!!! My brother got a Raymond shirt for his Wedding!! His WEDDING!!!). So! Why did he opt for a quota? Isn’t quota for the underprivileged? The unfortunate? The financially struggling candidate? It is. At least that seemed to be the intention. Then where and when did the operation go this wrong? When did we become indifferent and “OK” with a rich, dumb guy taking away the seat of an under-privileged, brilliant guy/girl?
Government of Tamil Nadu’s educational quota for the underprivileged should not be used by a well-to-do, dumb father and son. So how were they and so many others who are over-privileged able to use the quota? How are they able to flaunt quota seats like some Gucci shoes (Seriously idiots! It was an engineering seat. It wasn’t a degree or a bright future. It was literally a stepping stone and you got there because of a lumpy ladder called quota)?
Some may argue that this quota was started to help students in rural areas. To give them an uplift and help them achieve their educational dreams. But is this really what is required when it comes to helping people in rural areas? A free pass if you are the “downtrodden”. I really do not think the bright minds, irrespective their castes, will be OK with getting a free pass.
That being said, I am just going to make a point with an analogy here! If you have fever and it is because of the ruined mango pickle you eat every day, will you stop eating the pickle or keep taking fever medicine and keep eating the ruined pickle? Of course, you’ll stop eating the pickle right? (yup! This happened to me, I got food poisoning by eating ruined pickle!! Keep it in fridge guys! Keep it in fridge! Summer kills pickles)
Then why is that rural India keeps getting horrible, sub-par education and keeps getting quota? (I was clear right? Fever medicine = quota and ruined pickle = sub-par education…. You guys got it? Right? I do not think you’re dumb. Just being clear… cheeezzzz chill people)
It’s high time we change this vicious circle. We want underprivileged people to grow in all aspects. The government’s schemes should be in a way it enables them to holistically grow, not in a cancerous way. Owing to this practice, we can already see a lot of unhealthy changes in the state. Students who are really deserving are not aware about the quota or they quit education. Students who are not deserving go on to do professional courses and become engineers, doctors, lawyers, and other government officials. The country is losing bright minds and nurturing rotten ones.
Education is a very significant step in improving a country’s economy and status. If and only if the citizens are quality-educated, the country as a whole can flourish. This is a priority the government has to take up and start making changes in the primary level.
When I say primary level, I mean increase the quality of teachers. Increase teachers’ salary in every educational organizations. Standardize the salary structure in private and public sector in education. The increase in salary will attract the right talent. Because let’s face it, to live, we need money and no one is going to take up teaching when there is a more prospective option available.
After the primary change, there should be stringent selection process to study B Ed and other post-graduate courses. There should be competitive exams to gauge and select the people with the right mindset to become the country’s growth architects. The competitive exams will filter out the best so that the country’s children get the best education.
Teaching should not be a hobby-like profession for people looking for an easy, less time-consuming job. The selection process and remuneration must push people to take up teaching seriously and attract good teachers.
I know teaching is not a high-paying profession throughout the world. When I talk about remunerations, I do not mean compete with the other countries and out-win them.
In India, good teachers become software professionals, lawyers, government officials, business person, housewives, and other professionals. The salary structure of an entry-level teaching professional in a government school for primary education should be more than the entry-level IT professional (Now! don’t argue that IT professionals don’t make as much! This is true, teachers make much less people).
These good teachers will be the best thing you provide for the bright minds of rural India. Rural students do not need quota.
These primary changes to shape the educational system will definitely be a worthy investment in the long run. Most of my hard-earned salary goes into paying my child’s school fees. And when I come to know that his teachers do not get a lion’s share of what I pay to the school, I am severely disappointed. No amount of facilities and infrastructure will replace a good teacher. Teachers are the architects who will shape young minds. Seems cliché, but this simple truth carries a lot of meaning.