With the Bihar Board (11th March) and other Board Examinations nearing, here is an article as to why morals are important in the current educational system where copying has almost become the order of the day in some boards and universities.
I was Inspectress of ICSE Board X and XII Examinations in Patna. I found the examinations conducted very well. Even a little deviation from rules resulted in the centre being debarred the following year. No place is bad. The system needs to improve. If ICSE can conduct fair examinations in Bihar all other boards and Universities can do the same.
Wishing your publication all the very best,
Sr Mudita rscj
9th Feb 2016
All religions foster moral values. India boasts of being a spiritual nation seeped in a rich, ancient faith as well as cultural ethos. From this tapestry one can imply that India is teeming with values. Unfortunately the cheating spectacle reported in the 2015 Bihar Board Examinations is appalling. Images of parents and relatives climbing three to four storey examination centres to pass on chits to their wards who were writing board examinations went viral, disgracing Bihar and the whole Sub-continent.
I am a transformative educator struggling against the grain to inculcate some values while I teach in St Xavier Colleges, Digha, Patna. In November-December 2015 during the Management and Technology (Semester System) University examinations held in a Government College in Patna, my students reported to me that a person entered the examination hall just before the examination began, asked the invigilators to leave and openly demanded money from students to allow them to copy from books, notes, mobiles, anything they desired. Many succumbed to temptation and all were free to copy. To add insult to injury, someone returned towards the end of the examination and caught a few students copying (from those who had not paid) as a cover-up to hoodwink University authorities. I was devastated and demoralised, my pride was hurt; where did I go wrong and what is the next best step to take, I queried helplessly?
I prayed hard, spoke up strongly against it, discussed my pain with my colleagues and students and even tried to get an appointment with Mr Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar (I had met him on a couple of occasions earlier). As though God heard my prayer, Sunday Times of India newspaper (31/1/16) announced, “Bihar education minister Ashok Chowdhary on Saturday (30/1/16) said CCTV cameras will be installed at vulnerable board examination centres to prevent any recurrence of last year’s cheating scenario.” I am on cloud nine!
If corruption, paying to pass or get higher grades; buying certificates and indiscipline in Bihar has to change, then good education and fair means of examinations seem to be the most pertinent and lasting solutions. I had felt consoled, happy and proud as co-ordinator of Foundation and Mentoring (Value Education) when in 2013 our colleges, St Xavier’s College and St Xavier’s College of Management and Technology, Digha, Patna, earned a good name for integrity by not allowing any cheating during examinations and for dealing with defaulters stringently. Students, who come to our colleges today to write examinations, are often taken by surprise to find that we are different. Morals do matter!
On deeper reflection I came to grips with the reality of Bihar-if parents and elders do not have right morals or values, how can we expect our children and youth to have them? Values can only be caught, never taught. Where are they going to witness the right values? This convinces me that morals and value education must be made compulsory and must form part of the curriculum in all schools and colleges. However the crux of the problem and burning need of the hour is to revamp parents and teachers into teaching these morals and values both by their life example and through innovative and inspiring methodology. And for this to become a reality, as Dr S. Radhakrishnan inspired his generation to uphold the dignity of teachers by increasing their salaries; all teachers need to be respected, valued and given a fair wage, if they are not to become scandal points themselves.
Unity in diversity is our hallmark. God is too big to fit into any one religion and India is blessed with varied religions, four of which originated in India itself. Indians are fortunate to be able to glean the best of each religion and make it their own. For example the Universal Family Spirit of Hinduism and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one big family) of the Bahai Faith, the Discipline and Fellowship of Islam, the Courage of Sikhism, the Compassion of Buddhism, the Non-violence of Jainism, the Creativity and Philanthropy of Zoroastrianism, the Indomitability of Judaism, the Cosmic Solidarity of Tribal Religions and the Self-sacrifice and Forgiveness of Christianity. If students imbibe these basic values of life, it will automatically lead towards greater harmony and peace-the backbone of any stable society. We ought to bind, not to blind, to build, not to break. ‘Jodo, Todo Mat’, the theme of our colleges for this year 2015-2016, will then become a reality.
Education must reconstruct society based on values rooted in faith and love. From within real life situations and subject content and context, the educator must have the intuition and courage to create new possibilities through the development of hearts and minds, particularly of women, confident that they will become transformers in their world. Many seek love and life in today’s world. Some flee violence, terror and abuse, destruction of the fabric of society or the environment. Youth today, dream of a new land where they can nurture life and hope for themselves. They seek to rebuild their lives in various ways-searching to create new possibilities of mercy and communion in our world. We need to educate our youth to learn from and with one another, to respond with love in the face of fear, violence and pain, to envision and build a global society where everyone has access to resources, to live in new ways that provide and sustain life for everyone.
We need to deepen and expand our compassion that we may live relational transformation in love of persons, of our global community, of our universe. We need to make efforts to know the contexts in which our youth live and study, to hear their stories, understand what nourishes their hearts and minds, what shapes their hopes, convictions and dreams. We need to offer them our own perspectives with openness, trust and humility, affirming that each one has a contribution to make to the whole, recognizing that the Spirit is at work in each one and among us all. We need to grow in understanding the many dimensions of the emerging future and in discerning together how the spirit is calling us to respond through our mission of love. The journey of pilgrimage with youth involves walking, taking steps, discovering the next step we are being called to take in the pilgrimage, living as an educator of love in the journey of education today.
Let us help one another to grow in confidence and courage to take these next steps, trusting that God the Educator awaits us through the open door, leads us and nourishes us in our pilgrimage as educators animating youth in the right values. Let us ask God to touch the eyes of our hearts so that we may discover the inner beauty of the college youth entrusted to us and be filled with awe united with every one of them because we are teachers, called by God to this noble vocation to give our all to them in love and service. May our struggles and our concern for youth never take away the joy of our journey towards inculcating the right values in them.
Dr (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ
(Co-ordinator of F and M 2013-2015) 1st Feb 2016