Desi Diarrhea

Explosive liquid thoughts on all things Indian. Warm & pleasant sometimes. Painful & disgusting at other times. Always brown.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Education Minister proposes removal of mathematics after 8th standard. Perhaps we should make school optional altogether?

Schools + No Math = Dumbass Kids. I feel like this blog survives because Indian politicians & government types do stupid things that I can write about. The latest comes from Education Minister Professor Vasant Purke who thinks that math (or maths for some of you) be optional after the 8th standard (8th grade for ABCDs).

In lieu of math, the state education department is proposing offering subjects like computer science, agriculture and handicrafts instead. A final decision will only be made "after a huge public meeting to be held next month, where the common man’s opinion will also be sought." Like it or not, the 'common man' of India is not equipped to make these decisions and the education of India's youth should be left to those who know what they are doing. Although from this initiative, it seems that even "those who know" need to go back to school themselves.

So as India tries to become a player in the global community, should an education system that lets students opt out of a core educational requirement of math be allowed? Does the education department really think that someone can do computer science who can't do basic algebra?

The reason for the proposal is students from the city as well as rural areas are sometimes unable to complete their 8th standard because of the difficulty of passing math. According to education department sources, “Maths is the one subject that most students fail in the SSC exam. We are looking at those students who give up studies after failing the subject repeatedly. Day by day the exam burden has increased and students are under tremendous pressure because of maths. Prof Purke has put forward this decision after receiving numerous complaints from parents.”

Not only are parents complaing, but surprise surprise, so are students. One brainiac commented "“Though I was good in science and languages, my results took a beating due to maths. Appearing for other subjects was never a problem but when it came to algebra and geometry I was all at sea. Though I took tuitions I was never able to understand the equations and calculations. I was good at simple mathematics till Std VII but in Std VIII when we were taught formulae I could never comprehend which one to apply where, hence I used to fail in these subjects and gradually lost interest in studies."

(1) "I was all at sea"? Did this kid even pass English? (2) I remember complaining about school subjects, teachers, etc throughout my education. It's part of what students do and this move to remove math is a cop out. Just because I didn't like or was having difficulty with a book we were reading or a mathematical formula doesn't mean it should be changed or removed.

This proposal sounds a bit like a person who breaks his finger and decides to cut off his arm to fix the problem. India needs a rigorous educational system. Requiring math doesn't mean that everyone needs to be a software engineer or financier, but just because you cannot do math doesn't mean you should be thrown into a career in handicrafts or agriculture. There is a lot of room in the middle and hopefully enough sense amongst the powers that be to see this. You just need to look at the US education system to see how a system increasingly less reliant upon the basics - reading, writing & arithmetic ultimately can serve to put a country at a disadvantage.


  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger Sir Jean de Victoire said…

    What would probably most benefit India's schoolchildren would be to put some of those criminally misused gvt. rupees towards the purchase of good math textbooks. The main reason, I believe, that math is so incomprehensible to so many is that it is often so half-assedly taught. I myself would be utterly useless at math were it not for the wonderful textbooks that I used to learn it. They were expensive.

    Great blog by the way. You are now a bookmark.


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