CHENNAI: Chetan Bhagat belongs to the funny, sensible and no nonsense breed. He can laugh at himself, at the system and still come through as someone who cares enough to want things to change and knows that they will, someday.
In Hotel Courtyard by Marriott for an interaction with members of Essence Organisation on Friday, the author of bestselling Indian novels such as Five Point Someone’ and the recent Two States’ spoke about the pitfalls and lacunae in the education system in India. “Indian education focuses on filtering over learning, remembering over thinking, and exhibits a lack of sync with the globalised world,” he said.
He compared the education system in the country, which uses cut-off marks, to a process that requires 50 children on a bicycle for the first time in their lives to get to the other side. Most of them fall down, two or three make it and they are declared as the only ones fit to be in the system, which does not have a place or provide options for the rest.
“Delhi University has 97% as the cut-off for some courses. This means a class filled with children who never make mistakes. This shows that the system insists that children be focused on one thing only and so are afraid to try out anything else because they are not rewarded. Children are brought up thinking that there’s no place for mistakes, and that experimentation are not worth the risk. A child should be allowed to make mistakes to find his place in life,” Bhagat said.
Every child needs English, money or an understanding of how it works, communication and marketing to do well in life. But, none of this is part of the syllabus. “Maybe a couple of these issues are touched upon in post graduation, but none in school. But everybody needs to acquire these skills to make a living and to reach their potential,” he said.
Bhagat may be an idealist, but he is also realistic. Responding to a question from the audience as to whether he believes that any change will take place, he said, ” Five Point Someone’ was rejected nine times before somebody published it. But now I see how far it has come. In the same way, it may take 30 to 40 years for such changes to come about pan India, but it will happen. My efforts are aimed at keeping the issue in the forefront in every way I can.”