Looking at the highly tensed times that parents have been facing to get their equally perplexed children admitted to educational institutions, ranging from nursery/primary schools to professional ones, I am reminded of my own good old days.
While trying for admissions, during the "safe 60s", one never had to bother much. Leave aside entry level admissions in schools, getting into even the professional colleges as per one's aptitude were also hassle-free, in general.
Take, for instance, my entry into the professional 'School of Art' in Chandigarh that caters, till date, to the art students from the whole of northern region, excluding Delhi.
Unlike today, the number of students opting for five-year art courses then used to be very low. No wonder that I, nursing a strong desire to become an artist, was admitted into this institution despite failing in its difficult - at least for me - entrance test!
The situation today has changed drastically. At times, students scoring even more than 90% marks are unable to get admissions into colleges/courses of their choice. Undoubtedly, the frustration of both such parents and students is fully justified. In such a situation, students are forced, in general, to opt for educational courses not of their liking.
Lack of infrastructure, crowned by debatable reservation policies, have only contributed significantly to the current educational mess.
I remember how proudly an acquaintance once told me that his daughter had secured admission in the College of Architecture. On my comment that she must be interested in art/architecture, pat came this highly disturbing reply: "No, her first choice was chemical engineering, to which she could not be admitted!"
Thus, I often wonder at the uselessness of aptitude tests that some schools, as per CBSE norms, hold frequently.
This rather serious situation acquired a funny overtone when once, not long ago, a minister, incharge of framing educational policies for the nation, expressed surprise over controversy regarding admissions in the wake of 100% cut-off percentage for admissions by a prestigious Delhi college!
In the absence of a uniform education policy and insufficient number of quality educational institutions, this exasperating situation is well known to all, except those who run the show at the governmental level. Thus, no quick-fix solutions perhaps can be devised to mend this big educational muddle.
It is high time that there begins an agitation to seek some quota fixed for students with merit and aptitude for admissions to various educational institutions.
(The writer is former principal of Government College, Chandigarh. Views expressed are personal.)