Capitation and capitulation - that's 'value-based education' for you

My earlier blog was about how it is best to let children pursue their own areas of interest, for often-times it is passion that helps you find your true vocation in life. Now past my prime, I feel I have missed my vocation. I’d have probably done much better as a teacher or a travel writer or perhaps a bookseller.

Well, I received an email from a rather miffed mother, stating that the money she paid as capitation fee or whatever was not paid to fulfil her dreams or anything of the kind. It was only to fulfil her daughter’s wish to go to the US of A. And taking up Engineering was the easier route. She wonders why she should be ashamed to be called a Sanskrit scholar’s mother. After all, she hails from a family of Sanskrit scholars; her grandfather was a highly respected pundit. And her daughter is the only one in the family of today’s generation who has an inclination and passion for the subject.

Now that I have been admonished and corrected to a point, let me say that it is not my intention to base stories on other people’s lives but, certainly, as somebody who takes more than a casual interest in things happening around him, I am sure I can put forth my points of view based on conversations and experiences. That’s what any form of writing is all about, isn't it?

In any case, my intention really was to point to the lack of interest in the Arts and the Humanities thanks mainly to courses being linked to jobs, overseas opportunities and even marriage prospects, and to parents and teachers being unable to guide children properly. In this case, of course, we must give it to the young student for wanting to pursue Sanskrit in a world where many people have even forgotten the subject exists. And to her mother for having taken a bold and practical stand to ensure that the best turns out for her daughter.

My intention was also to point to how parents are forced to pay huge sums as capitation fee to colleges and institutions of higher education in our country. Are we prepared to sacrifice our children’s future by not making such payments for which you don't even get a proper receipt? I suppose not. So, it is perhaps symptomatic of a wider malaise in society. But then it is strange, isn't it, that such goings on haven’t come to the fore in the media in all these years.

I wasn't surprised, therefore, to read in today’s newspapers (talk about timeliness!) about IT raids being conducted at several premises of one of the so-called leading colleges in Chennai and roundabout. What started off as a school and went on to become a college has today diversified interests – hotels, hospitals, transport, media and entertainment. Quite an empire really.

In education especially, it's quiet, hard, diligent and honest work that wins the day, and for that you need to be publicity-shy and less commercially minded. Sadly in our country, there aren't too many who fit the bill. 


ramya said…
Indeed, sir. I learnt that the going rate for an engineering seat is anything from Rs1 lakh to Rs10 lakh. This, even though, the supply of seats exceeds the demand. Institutions like the one mentioned create an artificial demand, and capitalise on the desperation of parents. Parents too forget their reponsibility as citizens, and do what they should not to 'secure' their child's future.
Rummuser said…
Like all parents, I had big dreams for my son, an only child. He however had no intention of the slog that would be required for medicine or engineering and chose the liberal arts route to get an MA in English literature and simultaneously got a PG Diploma in Mass Media and communication. He is now a successful independent consultant in the IT area.

The point is that a liberal arts education is no block to successful careers. I am not an engineer and I have had a successful life as a Manager.
pkd said…
Thank God that my son never wanted to go out of India. My son's interests were also tonned down byme so that he can be financially independent and forced to take up Engineering. But NEVER allowed to study on capitation fee. My son even now blame us for not allowing to go for his dreams. Poor middleclass!!!

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