Knowledge is Power – Or is it just the marks? (The Curious Case of BSEB)

‘Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’ – Nelson Mandela.

Bihar has seen many ups and down in recent years, it is the state which has produced far more IPS, IAS officers and engineers than any other state in India. However, the biggest irony is – the place which gave birth to the so-called the greatest spirits of knowledge likes of Buddha, Mahavira, and Chanakya lies in shambles now.

The state of the education system is beyond worrisome, and it should be a topic of concern to all that a complete societal system is resorting to cheating rather than trying to score marks honestly. The collapse of moral value in the state of Bihar is not just a collapse of the education system but it also signifies underlying disbelief on the values which our education system imbibes in our young generations.

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Last year, pictures of parents climbing up walls of the school to pass on cheating materials to students went viral and this year we are witnessing yet another story of bogus toppers. The case came to light after a sting operation done by a TV channel that broadcasted a 12th grade topper in humanities explaining political science as ‘prodigal science’ and relating it with cooking. Not only did it go viral, it managed to expose the tip of the iceberg.

That was not just one isolated case. Unlike most cases that often lose the light of the day, this time, two so-called toppers’ result has got cancelled and the whole scandal has ended up in the resignation of the chief of Bihar State Education Board (BSEB) along with criminal charges against those toppers, board officials and exam checkers.

This incident has highlighted several problems in our education system, and this is high time we address the elephant in the room. The problem of cheating not only indicates the declining moral values in society but also the amount of pressure felt by parents to get their kids get marks. This peer pressure is damaging. Marks are not just the criteria to get admission these days, they are being taken as social status. This has started a different kind of ego fulfilling race where people are desperate to reach the coveted 90 + percentage in +2 examinations.

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While untimely deaths due to suicide have already been the talk of the town. Every year, during the result season, we see news flashing about how a child took his/her life because he/she could not see his/her parents disappointed.

Perhaps this has led to finding a different route to getting accepted as a bright student. In order to gain respect among family members and society, students have begun to take to dishonest means of cheating and bribery. With the cut-offs going higher every year, there’s a lot of pressure on both, the kids as well as the parents to achieve more marks even if it means that they have to resort to unethical means.

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A lot of students are compelled to take science so as to be engineers or doctors, very much against their will. A child who might want to go for Media in future is dumped with studying Physics, Chemistry and Maths, and hence, is not left with anything except for the above-stated options. In this case, even the education system is to be blamed.

How many times have we dealt towards making parents and kids aware of alternative career options? How many channels have come up with the idea of bringing up different professions that can prove to be as rewarding as a career in science? How many times have we actually sat down to think beyond the conventions? This is the gap ProBano is trying to fill, the gap between education and its possibilities, the void between parenting and understanding, and of course the unsaid yet an obvious goal to let kids do what they love. In our attempt to do the same, we will be introducing kids to disciplinary topics like Entrepreneurship, Law, Computer Science, Sports Management, Journalism, etc. We believe that this will bring professional focus in the education that a child receives and will enhance the reach and quality of vocational education. Don’t you think so?

We’ll be launching our first course on Entrepreneurship on 15th June and would love your support in our cause to eradicate everything that tries to destroy the joys of education.

[Originally published on 10 June 2016 and authored by guest author Harshita Srivastava]

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