It is not proper to blame just the parents for the present craze for admission to engineering, medical and other professional courses. Of course, the dream of their wards getting at the entry level the salary/emoluments the parents manage to draw, or drew at their exit stage, is behind the hunt to land them in courses that lead to plum jobs in India, or better ones abroad. The colleges, deemed universities and various coaching institutes are also responsible in a large measure for this mad race to get into courses, with or without the necessary aptitude.
Of course, the argument that merit should be the deciding factor is a very impressive one. Also, that there should not be any attempt by parents to ‘block’ seats in top colleges before the results are out is also fair and good. However, don’t we see universities and colleges spending a fortune on advertising and excessive campaigns to sell their seats as it were? Hoardings as well as glossy brochures and advertisement blitzkriegs have been put out in an unprecedented fashion year after year. Colleges tom-tom the courses they offer, the facilities they have at par with international standards and the unbeatable faculty they have with them. All this is to lure the parent community with their wards to make it to them or break their future prospects.
The colleges struggle to become deemed universities to acquire greater autonomy and promote themselves by leaps and bounds. They acquire acres of properties, at times acquiring virgin/farm lands, to erect their infrastructure to accommodate students from far and wide. Some look at education as a ‘business’ and to ensure a smooth sailing will keep the authorities in good humour time and again. They convert their bright students into young faculty members because it is often difficult to win and retain budding teachers who later turn into able professors. The flip side of this arrangement is that once these budding talents grow in stature nothing can prevent them from deserting or moonlighting.
Another menace parents have to face these days is an evil called ‘capitation fee’. In fact, it starts in a subtle form right when a kid is put in pre-KG or LKG in the form of donation or higher fees in fancied schools. This financial burden on parents also goes by fancy titles like ‘school development fund’, ‘infrastructure fund’, etc. The coaching institutions enter the scene to augment what is available in the regular schools and promise top ranks and definite success. So, everyone has turned it into a flourishing business and this commercialisation has assumed shameful proportions now.
Once a model for reaping moolah surfaced it did not take long before politicians chanced upon this goldmine. In fact, the entry of politicians has made these corridors of learning dubious entities. This has led to old and established educational organisations taking a body blow.
Instead of blaming parents and students, who often do not have a say in which course their life is to take, the heat should be on unscrupulous people who have commercialised education. A level playing field should be set — this alone will help in improving the standard of education in the country. India in the early centuries did have a selfless education system even the Britishers envied and we still have great geniuses holding the name of the country on a high pedestal. The good old days can be brought back, only if we make the right moves now.