changes in education system

From sunday times

It is very interesting article .I think india has to dump yearly education system

Does high IQ + semester system = Nobel genius?
The University Grants Commission (UGC) wants Indian universities
to adopt semester system-based courses with the choice-based credit system
(CBCS) within two years. Educationists agree that higher education needs to be reformed, but is the semester system with its continuous routine of grading and assessment the only way India can move away from the tendency to learn by rote?

Not really, say experts, who say the new system alone cannot bring wholesale change - more free-thinking students and analytical young minds aspiring to Nobel Prize-winning discoveries.

Eminent scientist Yashpal, who heads the UGC/ All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) review committee, says, "What remains after our education is complete, is our understanding of the subject and not what we remember. Unfortunately, not too much emphasis is laid on what is understood; there is always a pressure to remember things. That doesn't help because pressure destroys learning
. And this is the state at all levels of education."

Yashpal is one of many who believe that semester systems are not enough; India needs to build an educational ecosystem starting in schools to encourage understanding rather than memorizing. But he agrees the semester pattern of education is progressive. He heads a committee set up by the government in February 2008 to look into the functioning of UGC and AICTE.

In the US, Ohio State University (OSU) is planning to switch from the quarter system (where the academic year has four quarters of usually 10 weeks each) to a semester one. OSU president Gordon Gee says, "Change is difficult. But this is a transformative moment for this institution because it sets us on a course not only to move to semesters but also to recalibrate the nature of our academic work and to modernize the university in ways that I think will set us in a leadership role nationally"

Back home, educationists agree that the rigour and consistency (frequent assessments and strict deadlines, for example) of the semester system keeps students on their toes. But the annual assessment system allows a student to clear exams with just a couple of months of intensive study rather than absorbing knowledge all the year round. Student-teacher interaction is much less in the annual assessment system. "There is a consistent pattern of study and the student has to study much more," says Kamal Mitra Chenoy, professor of international relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University, one of the few Indian universities to have adopted the semester system. He says this has meant less chance of learning by rote and greater need for students to rely on their mental skills.

This is largely anecdotal. There is no quantifiable data that shows the semester system as a superior method of teaching and assessment, producing free-thinking and creative minds capable of critical reasoning. But it is a given that regular assessment - as in the semester system - does force most students to stay alert. Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston in the US, and an alumnus of Kanpur University, believes that "no system in itself is superior; it is always how people use it and whether it is the right fit for the society at that time".

Her view is shared by PV Indiresan, former director of IIT Madras. "At IITs, we have had this (semester) system for years. Most of our students do very well but there are many who don't. So that doesn't mean that the system is faulty. A lot depends on the student and the teacher," he says.

V C Thomas, University of Pondicherry professor, points out loopholes in the semester system. "Sometimes it may so happen that the student may copy a previous year's assignment or a teacher may award more points to his favourite student. So, the loopholes are there." Pondicherry varsity offers postgraduate students the semester and choice-based credit systems.

So can India expect to produce more Nobel laureates if it moves to the continuous assessment semester system of higher education? Vijay Khole, vice-chancellor, Mumbai University, offers a cautious answer: "Critical and analytical thinking are abilities which many may not have. How much a student develops them, ultimately depends on him."

Nobel laureates may or may not be products of the semester system, but they are highly motivated and creative individuals who relentlessly pursue their interest for years.


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