Sunday, 28 June 2015

The battle of the bulging cut offs

As a parent, the greatest apprehension was whether my daughter would get admission in a good Delhi University college, and anything less would mean  a compromise, in spite of a plethora of high sounding alternative private universities, some sounding as Western as I am Indian! Call it old fashioned stubbornness or sentimentality stemming from the fact that I am, myself, a product of a University that has somehow become rather elusive even for those who have scored a perfect ninety-five ( something that was guaranteed to have been madness or craziness in my time when an eighty-five was the perfect figure!).
The sudden shooting up of cut offs as a result of more and more students getting ninety-eight and above is absurd and crazy! It can mean only two things, firstly that the students today have become better than the educational system, their teachers, having somehow mutated into a super-species of human beings with perfect IQs., or, the only other alternative is that the assessment at the grade twelve level has become redundant, ineffectual since it is not able to measure actual scores! Does it, therefore, mean that a student who scores a perfect hundred in his best of four is really exceptionally endowed in that rather elusive department called cognitive intelligence? I doubt it, with no offence to the lucky one of course!
The fact of the matter is that only about six thousand or so of all students processed by the CBSE will score above ninety eight in their best of four, but the fact of the matter is that they have driven the rest of their friends absolutely crazy! While the Delhi University has a total number of slightly above fifty-thousand seats, few of the students who pass out of school will be able to tread through the imposing gates of this venerable institution that has managed to hold its own in the presence of all those new institutions that provide the comfort of air conditioned classrooms and offer burgers and pizzas in their canteens instead of the humble sambhur and vada that I once enjoyed in the canteen of a college fondly called the "sambhur vada college!"
So, what then can we do to stop the battle of the bulge (bulging cut offs)? Firstly, we need to re-align our assessment strategies at the grade twelve board level so that we are able to give realistic marks to students. Secondly, we need to introduce entrance test at the college level so that admission is not dependent entirely on the marks awarded by examining board. Thirdly, the Government should think about opening more colleges under the Delhi University. This also means opening of more Central Universities all over the country, universities that are credible, recognised and not mere teaching shops whose only purpose is to mint money. Students and their parents too are to blame for this battle of the cut offs. Students should not think only about getting admission in the so called "best college", they should try for other colleges too. We need to improve the credibility in terms of infrastructure, faculty, and accessibility of all the colleges so that they are all at par in terms of standards of academics. Ultimately, it should be the "course" and not just the college that matters!
Unfortunately, a large number of the students I know will not be able to get admission in a college of their choice because the absurdly high cut offs posted by some of the good colleges run by the Delhi University! This does not mean that these students were laggards or poor in studies! The fact of the matter is that some of them are toppers in their own schools and yet they have not managed to make it to "Du"! It is unfortunate that our liberality in giving marks in twelfth grade exams has in fact done more harm than good.
It is high time we rationalised the awarding a hundred marks in the board exams so as to stop a rat race before it becomes a battle unto death of crocodiles and sharks fighting over prime scraps of flesh!
As for my daughter, well she was able to make after all!

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