ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Pressure on Students

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The editorial “Are Competitive Examinations Ideological?” (EPW, 29 September 2018) tries to portray, sympathetically, the issues surrounding competitive examinations, and the consequent pressure they generate on students, parents and the immediate families of those appearing for them. It also attempts to link competitive examinations with employment prospects and the attendant alternative opportunities that students have, should they fail to make the cut.

India, as it stands today, is characterised by too many students chasing too few opportunities. The hordes of students graduating from universities, technological institutes, and even medical colleges often lack the intellectual wherewithal or the skills that their contemporaries elsewhere in the world possess. The reasons for this sorry state of affairs are many: low standards at entry levels, meagre salaries doled out to professors and research scientists, and the lack of merit in staffing these institutions.

A common refrain amongst those in educational institutions in India is that the atmosphere in them is one of decay and neglect. The few institutions that remain outside the ambit of mediocrity have limited seats for teaching or research. It is precisely this aspect that creates undue pressure on students to join prestigious colleges/universities or technology institutes. Not a single political dispensation has been able to give an assurance of full employment to the teeming millions graduating from these institutions and the situation shows no likelihood of improving in the short term.

Indian students are thus caught between low employment levels and low-grade institutions having poor standards, thus making them unfit for gainful employment. Most students then feel the need to “make it” by getting into a foreign university.

The students are, thus, made to face a battle throughout their lives, and this pressure has a telling effect. There is no escaping from the pressure, at least for now.

Rosen John

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