Dear Student, Passion or Grade – which would you choose?

Gitanjali Rao
Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao, the recently celebrated young scientist, who is covered in TIME magazine cover titling ‘Kid of the Year’, innovated a device named ‘Tethys’ which can measure the lead content in water. She is just 15, and a 3 time TEDx speaker and awarded with US President’s Youth Award, top ‘health’ pillar prize for the TCS Ignite innovation student challenge, and also won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. 

The pride for us is her Indian origin. On the day of the announcement of her being the ‘Time Kid of the Year 2020’, social media was flooded with screenshots, messages, and re-share of the Cover image with Indian emotions connecting her to the roots. And what more happening in a typical Indian middle-class family? That quintessential melodramatic comparison of our kids to her and the powerful sacrifices we did right from the baby is born! (Of course, there are exceptions!)

Gitanjali could choose a passion, if not over, but with a grade! In one of her interviews, she said “Understand what your passion is and go for it.” How realistic does it sound back in India? Aren’t we taught to score equally well in Mathematics and History? Doesn’t the kid next door leave all hobby classes for board exams? And, those passionate corners of the houses, those writing pads, those strings of Sitar, the reads of harmonium borne dust of negligence. To understand what our passion is, we grow grey hair!

Peer pressure of being an engineer or a doctor results in approximately 10 lakh engineering graduates every year in India, while 60% of them remain unemployed or underpaid. And, 50,000 doctors pass an M.B.B.S degree, every year. 

India ranks 35th in the global ranking as per the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019. Our system is more conservative while a skill-based education is recognized globally. Our ancient ‘Gurukul’ system was holistic and natural in approach, connecting students more with mastering the art of learning through Nature. Afterward, we see a transition of classroom-oriented study introduced by the British.

Our system has been synonymous with ‘Examinations’, ‘Board Exams’ ‘Entrance test’, ‘Grades’ etc. Even to date, a student in India is left with the limited choice of choosing among Science, Humanities, and Commerce. This results in the trend of opting to go abroad for higher studies. 

Reforms should happen and will happen in their own way. But how to change the system, being within the system? Are we equipped with the mental strength to empower these kids to follow their hearts?

Mahashay Dharampal Gulati

Can we stop judging a person with his/ her degree? There are many who have not passed board exams and proved to be an asset to the nation, following their passion. We know about Einstein, Jack Ma about their stupendous success though failing miserably informal education. Mahashay Dharampal Gulati, the proud owner of MDH Masala, who passed away recently, was a drop-out! However, his passion for spices made him the highest crore owner in the FMCG industry. 

We can take, small initiatives, today, than to blame it all on the education system. In schools, there should be preliminary room for discussion for identifying the strength of each student and empowering them to go for it. More extra-curricular activities and physical education should be given importance. At home, no need to treat the year of the board exam as a mandatory sacrifice of travel, sports, or even hobby classes! There should be fearless discussions where a child can openly talk about his/ her likes and dislikes. And, finally, bringing back the olden learning method through Grandma’s tale! There is a lot to learn beyond the four walls of a nuclear family. 

And, finally, Dear Student, would you be the change-maker? Because success never comes easy. Would you tread the path, even if alone? It won’t be long, then, to see a Gitanjali, at every home. 



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