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Eligibility and Elimination in Education

Oxford Dictionary defines Education as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. Of course, schools and colleges are centers for education but it never stops there! People can be educated without going to either of them but in such cases, the probability is really low (so please don’t risk that). In the times that we are living in, the more institutions you attend, the more educated you are considered. Hence, we see many engineers pursuing their M.B.A. (many of then vaguely know why?) and many science graduates doing their doctorate (because engineers have taken up their jobs). In other words, we are trying to be more and more eligible for a high-paying job by continuously escaping every elimination process on the way.

Coming back to schools, I think initial years are filled with fun and learn. Grading looks great at pre-primary and acceptable at primary level. Soon the competitive demon enters the system and we start comparing. In one of the parents-teachers meets, a Grade 1 parent asked me if his child stood first in the class. Even after knowing that the child has received the highest grade A*, the curiosity exists. This type of attitude gives birth to the trend of ranking and who doesn’t want to come first? The rat race begins. I personally endorse the grading system over the ranking system of assessment. Isn’t it good to compete with oneself or to improve your own standards than defeating your own friends?

This reminds me of the famous story of ‘The Bear and The Two Friends‘. It is about two friends walking through the forest and suddenly they see the bear approaching them. One of the friends climbed a nearby tree to save his own life; leaving the other on his own. The other one, who did not know how to climb, lays down on the ground breathless, pretending to be a dead man. For a moment think about the same story by replacing the ‘bear’ with ‘exams’ and imagine the situation of the other friend… (Are you feeling sad for him?). By the way, there is a new version of the above story which is even sadder. Check out the image:

Looks like the ‘Red Ocean Strategy’ being introduced in education, right from the early age. The competitive environment (the bear) is forcing learners to think about themselves alone, not allowing them to see a bigger picture. I need to safeguard myself, I need to fulfill all eligibility criteria and escape elimination by hook or by crook (or by friend’s answer book).

Recently, I heard Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, the Director of IIT, Delhi, speak about the famous entrance test IIT-JEE. He was narrating the other side of the story. He accepted the fact that the JEE exams are brain crackers. Actually, even the professors at IIT find it difficult to set new and tough question each time. The whole country dreams to study at IIT but in reality, there are only ten thousand seats available at IIT across India. So the entrance exams are not meant to test individual knowledge with respect to a standard but unfortunately they act as eliminators. So even after fulfilling the eligibility criteria, the students are being eliminated. A crude way of telling ‘NO‘ to a learner because there is a shortage of seats.  Instead of creating more opportunities we are busy raising the bar too high.

According to OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), the highest performing education systems are those that combine equity with quality. They give all children opportunities for a good quality education. And the good news is that there are many such universities around the globe. International boards have entered India, making our students more eligible to the foreign universities than before. By the time we create more in-house opportunities, our students can travel the world for their higher education.

Quiz Time – Currently we have a lot of sports events scheduled in our country. So I thought of making a sports quiz this time. Please go to and enter the respective code:

  1. Sports around the world – 155312
  2. Sports Personalities Of India – 117102


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Sahil Sayed is Educator, Teacher, and Learner. An engineer who understood science and mathematics little better after teaching primary grades for 3 years. Currently heading Science, Mathematics and ICT department at Red Camel International School, India. –

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