Mathematician Anand Kumar is the founder of Super 30 in Patna, which, every year, coaches 30 students from poor families for one of the most competitive tests in the world – the entrance exam for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
The recent photographs of cheating in Bihar have given an impression, somewhat unfairly, that everyone in the state resorts to cheating to get through exams. I can give you hundreds of examples where young students struggled through hardships and a severely lacking infrastructure in schools and colleges, and yet made it without any unfair means. Many such students come and get admitted to my coaching institute too, they are the true examples of perseverance and hard work.
In Bihar, there has been a long-standing tradition that it’s just a particular class that wants to study and gives its children the best facilities. The poor have always been neglected. So many private English-medium schools have opened up. Who is going to these schools? Only those who can pay.
But those children who go to government schools still find no teachers, find classrooms devoid of the most basic facilities. I think society and the government, both need to find a solution. Every teacher should try and learn more, and also attend the school he or she is assigned to, and actually teach! They may not have ideal working conditions, but they do should do their job, and consider it more important than other normal jobs.
Students and parents also need to say to themselves – “We will not use unfair means to clear exams. We will try and get the government to address inequalities in education. We will protest peacefully, but we will not cheat.” Also, there needs to be a sense of shame that accompanies cheating – and not just when the person gets caught. It should not be considered the done thing – yeh toh har saal hota hai.
The government should do more than just pay lip service to the state of education. Recruiting teachers and ensuring a decent student-to-teacher ratio is fine, but the quality needs to be shored up too.”
We need to be serious about teacher recruitment. This is the group in whose hands the future of the country rests. I believe teacher salaries should be good. Teachers should be given permanent appointments, and not be hired on contract. These steps will ensure they are attracted to their jobs.
I also think people already recruited shouldn’t be thrown out – this lowers morale, creates a feeling of job insecurity. But one solution could be to impart training to all teachers, and link their subsequent promotions and salary hikes to their performance and how well they have imbibed their training. Then they will have to perform in classes to prove their skills and worth.
Story First Published: April 08, 2015 16:17 IST