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Stop glorifying ‘toppers’

'Jab taleem ka buniyadi maqsad naukri ka husuul ho, tou ma’ashre mein naukar hi paida hote hai, rehnuma nahi.”
12:12 AM Jun 13, 2024 IST | ABID RASHID BABA
stop glorifying ‘toppers’

What happened on June 04 is a heart-wrenching tragedy. The monstrous fraud in the NEET exam didn't just rob students of their dreams; it destroyed their spirits, leaving them crushed and defeated. Adding salt to these gaping wounds, the so-called toppers of board exams are paraded around like heroes by Kashmir’s clueless YouTube journalists.


These amateurs chase after these kids, painting them as prodigies, but where do they end up 5-10 years down the line? Nowhere significant. They are trapped in a delusion, convinced they've already reached the pinnacle, and this undeserved fame inflates their egos to dangerous levels. Dear Journalists, you can have mithae and Dodde kahwe somewhere else. For heaven’s sake, stop this drama.


Someone scoring 500/500 isn't a success story or an inspiration for us—it's a facade. Absolute perfection is a myth. We're human, and flaws are part of our very essence. So why am I railing against these high-decibel ‘exclusives’? Because it's all false glory.


I've almost completely stopped consuming content from Kashmir because I can't stand reading the same copy-paste headline every year: ‘Girls outshine boys’. What are you even trying to prove with that? Why should girls need to outshine boys? And why are we glorifying someone's memory power? God, please save us from this madness.


Instead of digging deep and uncovering real stories, journalists have reduced themselves to celebrating exam results and blowing them out of proportion. It's just one year's result, for crying out loud! Why are you interviewing these kids?


What purpose does it serve? Why are you asking a 16-year-old to deliver a message for the community? Look at Finland—there are no lists of ‘top performers’. For every 45 minutes of learning, students get 15 minutes of play. Learning is made enjoyable. Kids learn best when they're curious, fearless, inventive, and free to make mistakes. But here, we've turned it into a high-pressure circus, stripping away the joy of learning. Kashmir ka baba aadam hi nirala hai.


You have no idea how much anxiety and pressure this causes to students. It's unbearable. Unless our policymakers wake up and change the way results are presented, we're going to keep seeing anxious, stressed-out students suffering under this ridiculous system. It's deeply upsetting.


How is it humanly possible that 67 students scored 720/720 in the NEET Exam? Let's break it down. There are 200 questions, and students need to attempt 180. Each correct answer gives +4 marks, and each wrong answer takes away 1 mark. So, 180 correct answers equal 720 marks. If someone skips a question, they get 716.

If one question is wrong, they get 715. Did anyone check the topper list from what students call "National Trauma Agency"? How many are from the same exam centre in Haryana? Some were awarded 718 and 719 marks, which is impossible according to NEET's marking scheme.

The NTA brushed it off with a late-night tweet claiming 'extra' marks. Did any journalist bother to ask under which rule? Who got these marks? Why only a select few? Why these gross HR violations? Why was the NEET result declared amid election noise instead of the official June 14 date? Why wasn’t the business calendar respected?

Journalism schools don't encourage questioning anymore; they teach irrelevant, out-dated syllabi from PowerPoint and dictate slides. These aspiring 'change makers' can’t even see beyond the surface, which was supposed to be their basic job.

Our journalists should be telling the stories of those who didn't qualify. Write about the family pressure, the bullying from relatives, the taunts from neighbourhood aunties, and the lonely battles with depression. Dear students, if journalists have failed you, I stand with you.

Our system turns us into robots, not active learners. Out of 5000 students in a coaching centre, if only 10 qualify for a competitive exam, what’s the success rate? Not even one percent! What are you celebrating? Fake promises? These suffocating centers fool parents into thinking their child’s success is because of them and blame failure on lack of interest.

They never own your failures because it doesn’t serve their interests. These business units care only about profits, and failure is not an option for them. Then they plaster photos of toppers in local newspapers, paying hefty sums. Now, they call local web portals and Facebook journalists to 'cover' their events, paying them to promote their coaching institutes.

What do our teachers do? They create a competitive and stressful environment that causes a lot of mental breakdown and finally kids collapse and feel suicidal tendencies. Let’s accept the fact that the board exams are traumatizing. According to National Institute of Mental Health, one in five children meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis.

The problem with our teachers is that they focus on the ‘10% best’ in class and ignore the rest. Our teachers forget the fact that every student is unique. It is just the grasping capacity is different. During training, our teachers should be trained that there are Kinesthetic learners, those who learn by activities while some learn by listening. Why are you judging them by the same yardstick? How fair is it? Here we need an ombudsman who can be a catalyst.

The actual problem with our education is that we are taught to remember not to understand. When learning becomes frustrating due to toxic teachers, it will earn anxiety and depression.  Our chatur (‘3 idiots’) toppers without understanding the meaning or the concept, mug up the things and think that they are smart. Such chaturs with photographic memory fail in real life challenges. School kai bahar jab zindagi imtihaan leti hai, to subjectwise nahi leti. If something is wrong with our youth today, it is the contribution of our obsolete education system.

So, is there an alternative option to evaluate a learner? Yes. It is called Blooms Taxonomy. It divides our learning process into six different stages. You design or create a new/original work, evaluate it/justify it, defend it. Then you analyze /execute it, understand it, discuss and describe it and finally you remember it.

Comparison based competition snatches smiles from students. We are designed to check how many people are ahead of us? This mediocrity needs to end to achieve excellence. Over 4 crore students learn the same concept across the length and breadth of world’s most populous country. How can you expect innovation? How can creative ideas flourish?

Our teachers should realize that one size doesn’t fit all. As Albert Einstein puts it, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid." Do not shout or use the stick in the classroom. The fear of the whip makes even the lion learn to sit on a chair but such a lion would be called well trained not well-educated.

I am really disappointed with how teachers operate in Kashmir. The status and stature of K-teacher reminds me of sub-continent’s greatest storyteller, Saadat Hassan Manto, "Jab taleem ka buniyadi maqsad naukri ka husuul ho, tou ma’ashre mein naukar hi paida hote hai, rehnuma nahi.”