Sunday, March 09, 2014

Education, Students and Motivation - what can be done

The other day we were discussing among ourselves the motivation of students to study.  And some of the views of friends were really surprising. One of them said, 'these students are not really students, they are individuals, the class is a group of individuals, not really group of students'. I thought let me think in my mind what ideally a student is. A student has a drive to learn new things, a student has urge to know more, a student has desire to excel, a student want to compete with others, a student raises questions, a student prepares and participates, a student engages him/herself in studies, etc etc. And then it struck to my mind, if a student is not doing either of this activity, one can not really call a student a student.  

This is what gave me questions to raise and solutions to find for the problem that we, the teachers, are facing. Our experiences may not be generalised to all students at all geographies and I also wish that it is proved wrong. There is sizable number of students who come to universities because they do not have anything else to do. And as soon as they get some job, they leave university. So since the motivation is engagement not achievement, they do not put efforts to excel. Since they have joined the program, they pursue it and think that since we are into the program, let us add one more degree to our qualification. Hence their performance in their classes is not up to mark or as expected from a student. Many of them can apply for jobs and get, even after graduation, but they think that they are not ready for job, so better to do masters and then apply for job. In most cases, there is utter absence of any drive for learning and excelling in their studies. What is the reason?

While they are pursuing graduation, whoever has some direction, whoever is able to chart the path towards one's pursuit and whoever is enjoying studies, takes the next step with proper thinking and guidance after completing under graduate degrees. Unfortunately the number of students who fall in this category is very small. Most of the students have no direction, no motivation and no interest in studies, who land up doing masters. This is more so for the students of commerce stream.  The role of teacher is important at this juncture who can motivate and guide them to make better choices for their future endeavors.

  • There are around 1000 students who pass B Com every year (from NEHU).  And around 300 of them apply for M Com program where we have only 50 seats (in NEHU).  
  • Not every graduate is fit for Masters program.
  • Not many types of openings or there is very less awareness for the opportunities for them.
  • What should they do....???
How can we keep blaming students that they want to pursue only M Com when we have not created any outlet for them after graduation.  So what is required is proper career guidance for them.  And opening up some alternative routes and ways through which they can get into some skill oriented courses after graduation so that they are ready for the market.   

The education system in India at present is focused on providing jobs to the students.  The programs are designed and developed keeping in mind the market opportunities and the young children are oriented towards making their career choices according to their abilities, intelligence, and qualification that they acquire from their schools, colleges and universities or other educational/training institutes. This is what in short is happening.

Education is in the market and market is fully visible in education.  This kind of proximity between market and education is driving the children towards having a fully market oriented value system,which for a country like India, is not only disastrous, but also a strong threat to the identity of indianness. The purpose of education should be to allow a child to explore oneself in order to find that faculty where one can put passionate efforts to excel.  This purpose is replaced by market economics and the pay package is deciding the career choices.  And I feel, this is the prime reason why we see upsurge of educational institutions luring the young minds through assuring, not knowledge but hefty pay packaged jobs.  This is the prime reason why money is overshadowing knowledge and values.

The practice of rote learning is dominating over urge to know more and it is because the students think that degree/diploma or a paper certificate of this effect is more important than really having knowledge about the subject.  This has somehow disconnected them from the belief that ultimately it is the knowledge which is going to take them places and provide them life satisfaction.   

It is also important to mention here that there are students who are excelling in their studies and they are the ones who get into making good career choices and later in life contribute for the well being of organization (that they belong to) and society.  Ironically such number of students are decreasing year after year and that needs to be our concern.
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