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Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Strict Educational Institutions

Last week, one of my roomies was hospitalized. Nothing serious, just a bout of diarrhea from which he has since recovered. Anyway, A friend and myself had gone over to the hospital to visit him.
On entering the foyer of the hospital, we notice a lot of visibly tensed people. A whole cacophony of languages is to be heard, with Malayalam and Kannada overpowering the others. My friend guesses that they must be students staying in some hostel. I agree, as I can find no other explanation for why such a large, pajama-wearing crowd should be assembled outside a hospital. Since we do not have time to inquire about the situation, we let it go and move directly to my roomies hospital room. A hale and hearty patient greets us, informing us that the doctors have given him a clean chit. Since we were not familiar with the formalities involved in getting a patient discharged, I go to the foyer to find someone who was aware of it. Which is when I overhear one of the students discussing that they are in need of AB+ blood. I butt into their conversation to inform them that my blood group is AB+ and that I was willing to donate it. They take me to the blood donation center and ask me to wait. Seeing that it would take a long time before my turn came up, I strike a conversation with another student who was also waiting to donate blood. He tells me what happened.
To cut a long story short, it seems that they were students at a reputed private college in Mysore, with a very famous figurehead. As is the case with a large number of reputed private colleges, this one was infamously strict. He told me that allegedly(this is how TOI put it) a member of their college administrative board went through the contents of a personal diary kept by a student. Allegedly, he also threatened her that the contents of the diary will be published on the college notice board. This prompted the student to take an extreme step: suicide. Fortunately, the attempt failed. However, she was in a coma and an urgent surgery was necessary to improve her chances. The surgery required eight bottles of blood and fate had willed that I should be there, at the hospital, to give my share.
I am sharing this incident because it would have faded into obscurity with a small note in the TOI being the only evidence that it occurred. The college will be back to normal, the member of the administrative board will continue his rein of terror on the students.
I have never understood the fascination for extreme discipline in private colleges. They believe that suffocating their students and stifling their voice will make them world movers. History tells us that this is rarely the case. Doing so might make them capable drones, but it would never produce original thinkers. I personally know of cases wherein once students escape from the strict confines of their academic institutions, they abuse their new found freedom. Teenage days and college days are very impressionable periods, and an important lesson that has to be picked up during this period is to learn from ones mistakes. Such educational institutions do not give students the freedom to fall, to make mistakes. They ignore the individuality of a student. They figure that every student can be replaced by a number against which violations can be marked, offenses can be fined and civil liberties can be conveniently neglected. One number to rule them all. However, they fail to realize that these numbers, when pushed and shoved for too far, too long, can behave unpredictably.
The destruction left behind in the wake of such behavior is devastating: A student's aspirations shattered, a family's dream destroyed and a section of the students body left emotionally scarred, perhaps for life.
This incident and the destruction it has sowed, is unlikely to shut down the college. I can only hope that this incident is a grim reminder of why 'we dont need no education', at least not of the strict kind.

UPDATE: I had written this post thinking that strict, nonsensical rules were a bane of the private educational sector. This post from Shishir tells me that these problems have started creeping into our premier educational institutes, including the IITs.


  1. i cannot undrestand y a few college are so strict as to almost wipe out a student's individuality.
    hopefully, they learn from this incident and make amends fast.

    u went up and offered to donate blood to a complete stranger!
    *clap clap*

  2. @Tangerine: Its strange that a lot of people are agreeing to the fact that we have a problem in our educational institutions, yet I dont see any corrective actions being taken.
    About donating blood to a stranger, i think it was just fate that willed me to be there. There was no other reason why I should have been at the hospital, considering the fact that another of my roomies was supposed to go in my place. I think you would have done the same if you were in my situ.

  3. This is just so typical. Its just sad that college administrations can never seem to handle even the slightest threat to their ego.

    Information is the only way out. So its great that you have blogged about this. Right thinking people need to be aware of how utterly arrogant the people in charge of educating India really are.

  4. @Shishir: I totally agree with you that information is the only way out. I had blogged about this mainly because I did not want her story to be just a footnote in the TOI. Obama had recently said that kids in the US will have to compete with kids in India. If this is the situation of educational institutions here, then I think they wont have to, as we would have already lost our edge.

  5. I have never understood why schools and teachers are so strict with students. Kids and even young adults need a lot of caring to nurture them into good human beings. But then who cares. All that schools want is students who pass the class so that they can justify the fees.

  6. @silverine: It is disappointing that our education involves mugging up certain paras from 'guides' and then puking it out on Exam Day. Once the exams are done, the students are left clueless. The schools would only be too happy because they achieved 'cent per cent' results.

  7. i wonder y these school authorities want students to be all cut frm the same cloth..
    Like zombies?
    as if stifling would take out remnants of any aspiration left behind to be alive....

  8. hmm..really sad isnt our education system..inspite of the positives there are so many blemish marks in the way it works...I hope that student gets over the trauma and the person responsible for this in college is severely reprimanded...