What you are going to read now may leave you aghast in disbelief if you have gone through some schooling and obtained your graduation/certification on the merit of your performance. But I assure you, it is quite an accurate description of situation as heard from horses’ mouth – not one but many horses, and of several courses under vocational stream.
Tamil Nadu government’s Department of Employment and Training conducts annual certification examinations for twelve month Industrial Training Course students (ITI) who study in institutions all over the state recognised by it. The examinations are conducted by the department only at government institutes. Believers in the strictness by virtue of of governmental control over education may point out that this arrangement is to ensure honest, fair and impartial conduct of the examination implying that the private schools cannot be trustworthy or lack the infrastructure. But at one such examination centre near Puducherry where students from the region around the city have to write their examination the very opposite is happening, year after year.
Firstly, if students want good classroom and furniture to sit and write, the staff have to be bribed first. When the question papers are issued, there is a routine confusion. Students who have studied in Tamil get question papers entirely in English, or those who studied in English get it in Tamil or everyone of a course gets only in one of the two languages.
Next begins the most shameful phase of this examination. A teacher sits outside the hall and writes answers to the question paper distributed within the examination hall! But wait, why is the teacher making carbon copies of his answers? That must be the procedural requirement you silly, – may blurt out the advocates of omnipresent governance – so that the Principal of the school, The Director of Employment and Training and the Minister of Education should all get a copy each. But sorry, the teacher is actually engaged in a far greater philanthropic service. He is in fact writing answers and sending them into the examination hall through the water boys to be delivered to students of those schools that have bribed him in advance for his service.
It is actually such a great ‘win-win’ situation that no one raises a finger. The students can pass, the teachers can save their tails by not having most of their class students fail bringing them infamy, the schools management can boast of high pass percentage of their students and the govt officials can grace school funcaitons as chief guests and hand out marklists for all and commendations to the “toppers”.
If you are still incredulous, you would ask whatever does the examination hall supervisor do? Hold on, the job the supervisor inside the hall has undertaken is not to prevent any student from copying but only those from any school that has not bribed the teacher from indulging in copying. Thus the students are given unforgettable life education on the day of their final examination which will shape their future life. The first lesson of which is, if one can get into a position of authority he can then misuse and profit by it and the second is that success is a commodity purchasable under the table with currency notes.
There is more irregularities from the examination halls. As the students of bribe paying schools complete the answers quickly copying from the notes sent in from the angel in the corridor, the supervisors stops the examination much before time. That is sometimes even half an hour earlier than closing time forcing students of non bribing schools, if there be any, to submit their incomplete answer papers and quit.
It is quite probable that what is described above is not an isolated phenomenon but quite a widespread one. This kind of examination is an open fraud in which schools, the teachers and the government who are supposed to be the guides and regulators of the training have become subversives undermining the system and indoctrinators of falsehood on young souls.
Awareness of the abysmal standard of this certification process has to be spread among the students and employers. Institutions that want to impart genuine skill and knowledge development should exit the prevalent fundamentally flawed educational systems.
Employers should be requested to disregard all vocational course certificates and select their employees by ascertaining for themselves the candidate’s actual knowledge and abilities.
That would take the patent falsehood out of vocational education and facilitate students with genuine knowledge and skill but reluctant to compete through rote learning and bribing to get the jobs they deserve. Besides, the schools then will not have to teach the students to pass examinations but help them acquire real knowledge and skill they want.