Blood on their hands
Sir — “Brutal pictures of brutal brothers” (July 25) shows that the Iraq expedition is getting gorier. The United States of America could not but have known the location of the two brothers in Mosul. Why was the shootout carried out at this time' Is it because the Iraqis are becoming too hot to handle' The brutal pictures released by the US sent out a discreet message to the rebels — the fate awaiting them will be just as bloody. But for a nation that has doctored reasons for launching an aggression, what proof is there to guarantee that the men shot were indeed the sons of Saddam Hussein'
N. Chandran, Calcutta
Learning the hard way
Sir — I agree with Devi Kar’s, “In search of new benchmarks” (July 23) and its contention that education in India hardly provides any intrinsic motivation for learning. Attending coaching classes and cramming notes have become the order of the day. Worse, students who have a knack for extra-curricular activities like singing, dancing, sports and so on are hardly given a chance to pursue them as a career. Even if parents do not force the child, a student himself knows that he has to continue his formal education till graduation and can only pursue his interests as a hobby. In countries outside the subcontinent, the situation is completely different. Students are allowed to choose their career and all kinds of work is given due respect. In India, on the other hand, all menial work is looked upon with disdain. A child has to grow up into either a doctor or an engineer and huge sums of money are spent in this wish-fulfilment. Little wonder third rate medical and engineering colleges are mushrooming everywhere. The result is the real meaning of education is completely lost in the process.
Sir — Devi Kar’s article has brought some fresh air to thoughts on education, particularly since the words come from the principal of a reputed school. The most disconcerting part is that the debate on the right kind of education is always restricted to the coffee table. We all forget the pious talk when it comes to deciding the fate of our own wards. The fact is very few of us can withstand the social pressure. Those who can or try to think differently are either sidelined or they voluntarily seclude themselves. Kar’s article has lent a voice to this minority.
Sekhar Basu Mallik,
Sir — Devi Kar quite plainly argues in favour of the Indian School Certificate board and criticizes the West Bengal board for creating a rat race among students and for quantifying performance in the subjects. Her argument is sound. But she should also agree with the fact that the pressure that the education system in West Bengal creates on students is not found elsewhere in India, at least not as badly. The pressure starts building from nursery, or even earlier, when the rat race actually starts to get children admitted to good schools. Children now start attending montessori schools from two years of age and are expected to get into nursery class in the established schools of the city by the time they are three and a half. The pressure at this level is equal for all children, and parents do not consider the boards of schools when they are clamouring to get their children into the premier institutions. So two-year olds, instead of playing in the afternoons, or listening to stories, start going for tuition with their mothers.
The concern voiced by Kar is sincere. But educationists like her possibly need to look at the system from its very initiation. Which means reforms, if any, has to start from the time children start going to school.
K. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir —What is wrong with congratulating and rewarding toppers for their hard work' It is also wrong to assume that those who make it to the merit list in the West Bengal council of higher secondary education do not get wholesome education. Competition is not alien to the other boards. Why is Uchcha Madhyamik being castigated for it alone'
Jyoti Haldar, Calcutta