Well, guys, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to complain or blame a system. Not like that. But I’ve a concern that I need to share with you. Some of you might have an answer.

I think just few days ago, Delhi University (among top universities of India) released their most awaited cutoff list. And there’s been a buzz around…in twitter, in news channels…everywhere you go. The cutoffs of getting admissions there have reached insanely high — above 99% in class 12 board exam! Even the brightest students need to think twice before thinking of an admission to these universities. Similarly, if you are thinking of engineering in India, IITs are considered the best. But every year the toughness of papers is increasing as the number of candidates increase, without much increase in their seats. Even if you are a bright student, you can’t expect a very good branch in a good IIT without sacrificing your childhood for these colleges.

Every year, number of candidates and therefore the cutoffs are increasing such that things are becoming like lottery. If you are lucky enough, you get in. Now for anyone expecting a seat in these ivy league schools, needs to sacrifice everything for the sake of a seat. But my question is, is everything alright? Isn’t there a fault in this system? I mean, think about the crowd. This year 12 lakhs students gave the first stage of JEE exam with only 1.5 lakh qualifying for the next stage. Why there arise a situation when every student applies for the same college? Are they left with only this option? Is the quality of undergraduate education limited to few elite institutes? Anywhere in the world, there’ll be some institutes which are above all other institutes, just like MIT, Stanford, Harvard in US. These are some of the ivy league colleges where it’s very hard to get into. But that doesn’t mean, other colleges are bad. You can apply for the same program in other institutes which give you high quality education. That’s okay. Everyone is comfortable with that. But when it comes to country like India, generally, we can expect a very few institutes to offer very high quality education. So naturally crowds increase for them and therefore insanely high cutoffs. This is not acceptable.

In the last couple of months, we have also seen a lot of suicide cases among teens who couldn’t get into these colleges. There can obviously be some other reasons. But still, the pressure these guys feel is enough to let them take such decisions. And not only that, think about the dependence on costly private coaching institutes. Despite of very high costs, a student enroll in these institutions with a success probability of less than 1%.

Yes, I know that not everyone should eye for the best institutes. Not everyone get into them. And not getting into them doesn’t mean failure. But still, if we would have enough seats against the increasing number of applicants, no one would have felt the pressure. Overall, the quality of education needs to increase everywhere so that no one feels like they have the only option left. And otherwise it’s quite natural to give up hope in pursuit of them.

The only thing I just want to point is that there can’t be or must not be a situation when someone requires much more than sufficient (more than 99%) to get a seat. Or a situation when a person need to solve some of the toughest questions even known to him or dependence on some special coaching programs. Any system requiring such do-or-die situation must have a fault within. Okay, I do admit that some ivy league schools are only for very bright students. But what about those who couldn’t made to them? Are they worthless? Shouldn’t they get quality education of level similar to that of ivy leagues schools?

Ministry of Human Resource Development should work towards developing a system and include as many colleges as they can and provide them with high quality resources so that students have much more options to apply for. It’s just that there’s one small chocolate cake and some 20 guys are after it. It’s obvious that in times, the most deserving will not get a grab of it. The solution is, let there be a chocolate cake and keep other normal, but quality cakes along with.

(c) Sandeep Deva Misra. 2016.

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