Category Archives: Education

On the mess that is education….

Rocking Way to Remember a People’s President

One school in Udupi remained open on a Sunday to pay a stunning tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.

One school in Udupi remained open on Sunday, August 2, 2015 to pay homage to President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. For this, I congratulate Manjunath AV, the school principal. The school is Dr TA Pai English Medium High School, popularly known just as ‘EMHS’, at Kunjibettu, near Manipal.

A caveat: My wife and me consider him a rock star and are willing to go so far as to compare him with the People’s President.

The reason, from our own experience: Teachers at other schools in the district, like Madhava Kripa High School & Little Rock Indian High School—one run by corporates and other by missionaries—quickly write off poorly performing students (especially from poor families) and condemn and shame them day after day, attacking and diminishing their self-respect, and all this in front of their classmates. The classmates are often forced to make false complaints. The parents are called and pronounced guilty for their child’s performance.

Once, a class teacher told other students: “Don’t you know he is abnormal?”

Luckily, the ashamed student who almost pissed in his pants did not go to the nearest well or lock up himself in his room to commit suicide!

Such children are so shattered—even if he/she is brilliant and possesses other life skills—that he/she never recovers and performs badly in exams.

In one of the schools named above, one such student made a solar cooker which could be assembled for less than Rs 100 and with readily available materials—a cardboard sheet, silver foil and glue—for a science competition. This would be of immense help villagers in rural areas.

The teacher-judges gave a cursory glance from a window, did not ask the child about the project and gave the awards to standard projects done by ‘toppers’.

These schools only encourage students who are bright a good performers because the teachers cannot teach and satisfy a student’s curiosity.

For such schools, their sole aim lies in not in teaching but only in results, results and results! …and churning out robots with some fancy-looking papers. And, of course, making money…

Yes, there is literacy, but no education.

A teacher’s job is teach, even a poor student, and not let them down.

Principal Manjunath—who I referred to in the opening paragraphs—personally takes care of each student with care, encourages them, builds up their confidence, gives them equal, non-partisan attention; and then sends them out to face any adversity!

End result: A confident student performs well in the exams, makes parents proud and the society has found a new, confident citizen.

And Principal Manjunath’s job is not done with just ensuring that his students pass board exams with flying colours. He has to fend off know-all parents who want ‘educational tools’ like slide projectors and other modern gadgets. His philosophy: A human can teach better than any machine because personal touch and warmth to reach out to all students if more important.

Having lived in Hyderabad I have seen a lot of ‘eschools’ or ‘technoschools’ where they start preparing students for IITs etc., right from the eighth standard: yet, they are nothing but money-minting factories mass-producing literates, not educated human beings.

Manjunath Sir, please accept our humble salutes!

Like Dr APJ Kalam, you too are a gem. A Guru in the true sense!

We bow to you!

(PS: The story draws upon our personal experience with teachers in all the three schools named above with our son. For more, read: https://snshenoy.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/blame-the-parents-but-dont-blame-the-system/)

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Manipal circular creates a mess!

Manipal has seen a building boom in recent years as Manipal University started growing leaps and bounds. A builder explained: “Many buyers of our apartments are faculty and staff of the university itself. Many are doctors and heads of department. Some have invested in two or more flats. “These flats are let out to students and the owners make a neat pile out of it,” said the builder on condition of anonymity.

Partying in Manipal (pic 'grabbed' from tripadvisor.com)

Partying in Manipal (click on pic to view as slideshow)

Manipal, March 25: Builders, brokers, restaurateurs, flat and house owners — and of course, the students of a premier institution under Manipal University have started grumbling about a new order that makes staying in hostels and eating in the mess compulsory.

A circular issued by Manipal Institute of Technology’s chief warden has said that it is mandatory for first, second and third year Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) students to stay in hostels with effect from August 2013.

The students have taken to social media to express their unhappiness at the order, which means they would have to shell out more from their pockets for boarding and food.

FB comments on the MIT "mess"

FB comments on the MIT “mess”

According to students, not all of them can afford the high hostel and mess fees. Anshuman Mishra, a second-year student was quoted by The Manipal Journal as saying: “Staying outside on your own is a lot cheaper than staying in hostels. For a single year, my expenses come to about Rs 80,000 including rent, bills, A.C., food and everything. But staying in hostels itself is not less than one lakh. It is simply not worth it.” (read here)

Many students also complain that they have choice of their cuisine outside and the order forcing them to eat the “horrible” mess food is simply in “bad taste”.

“Many of us have gone through such calls when we were asked to pay utility and mess dues at the end of even semester last year. It is very difficult for students to call back home and ask for money as we already are in a very costly college and it really hurts our conscience when are forced to do so. The worst part is that we can do absolutely nothing about it,” wrote Anshuman Mishra in Manipal the Talk (read here).

“Many students are staying outside and they have no clue as to what they are supposed. What makes matter worse is the fact that they have already obtained the lease for their flats for two years and can’t break the contract,” wrote Mishra.

A straw poll on Facebook showed that more than 450 students say that neither the hostel nor the mess fee be hiked. Thirtyone said that only hostel be made compulsory and not the mess, while only 11 said agreed with the new circular.

FB comment on the MIT "mess"

FB comment on the MIT “mess”

Commenting on the kind of response the circular has garnered from the students, Shashank Sarbada, president of the MIT Student Council told The Manipal Journal, “As of now, we can’t say anything for sure, but if the majority students are against this notice, then I’m sure the administration will take into account their point of view.”

Now you will be wondering how the others — part from students — mentioned in the opening paragraph of this story are affected?

Manipal has seen a building boom in recent years as Manipal University started growing leaps and bounds. A builder explained: “Many buyers of our apartments are faculty and staff of the university itself. Many are doctors and heads of department. Some have invested in two or more flats.

“These flats are let out to students and the owners make a neat pile out of it,” said the builder on condition of anonymity.

Ditto for the flat owners. However, one head of department in Kasturba Medical College pointed out that since almost a decade now, the university authorities were planning to make hostels compulsory and started constructing a lot of buildings for this. However, at the same time, the intake of students also increased drastically. The MIT has even leased out a hotel at Eshwar Nagar, converting it into an off-site hostel.

But every time such a step was mooted, many academics and senior management staff protested discreetly against these proposals as the “side income” of many of them too would have been hit.

For the restaurateurs, especially those having a bar on their premises, they fear their business would take take a beating.

At present, the bars and restaurants are full of students from the university — and not just MIT — every night. (It is another story that a lot of brawls take place and each bar is the exclusive preserve of a particular college. For example, MITians go to a particular bar, students of the hotel management college patronise another bar, doctors and students from KMC prefer some other one.)

With the hostel rule, the freedom of students to party late in the night and frequently also gets curtailed drastically.

But for many residents of Manipal, if implemented, this would be a “good thing”. The residents have to put up with many unruly students who disturb the peace in the apartments by partying along with loud music every night. “They also create a lot of mess by throwing garbage, beer cans and liquor bottles around,” said one resident, “besides using foul language.”

However, these long-time residents say “many times such rules have come, but pressure from vested interests have seen to it that these are not implemented in the true spirits”.

Some students are trying to organise some form of protest against the MIT chief warden’s circular, but in the end “we know who wins”, says a long-time resident of Eshwar Nagar, which in the immediate vicinity of MIT.

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