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Academic Dishonesty

September 5, 2021

Today is September 5th which is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India on the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, an eminent educator, teacher and the first Vice President of India. As Indian students reach out to pay respect to their teachers via various gestures such as feet embracing albeit digitally this year, I wish to take this opportunity to speak about a much graver issue in the Indian education scenario today.

It is not unknown how the past two years have been an agonizing experience for teachers in educational insititutes. It is commendable how they have adapted themselves to the rapid demands of the new online paradigm during the pandemic. But there is an elephant in the room that apparently nobody wants to address. The breakdown of conventional testing mechanisms have led to rampant academic dishonesty amongst students in the untested domain of online assessment which have been adopted largely due to the lack of a better alternative. The most common excuses given by senior students, even good ones are: “It isn’t serious” or “I’ll study later”. I am in a particularly qualified position to speak because I have been on that side of the computer screen, safely tucked away from the sight of that one poor invigilator who has to remotely monitor a pack of thirty or so tech-savvy teenagers and simultaneously ward off network and technological issues on their part. And I know how tempting and easy it is to be dishonest in such a setting.

What educators must see is the immense damage it is doing and has done to our economy. As I believe I have said before, this pandemic is about to draw to a close due to minimally effective vaccination campaigns and the populace is inching towards herd immunity. But the real damage of this will not be felt in the next year or so, it will be felt a decade from now when this academically deprived, skill-less workforce will be asked to lead the nation. What kind of treatment would we expect from the doctors of the pandemic who have casually copied material from all over the internet and passed assessment. Where is the passion to actually understand something and not spend hours watching YouTube resting assured in the belief that the project can be copied from the internet? The effort made by students is gone. There is no driving force except the fear of not getting credits which they are sure they can.

This is a frontier on which the government, educators and the teachers have been ghastly ineffective. Academic disparity exists and it will compound. Imagine the subsequent degradation of quality as junior school children now, who cannot read alphabets or perform basic mathematical calculations are asked to assimilate more advanced learning material. How will they cope? And more importantly, how will India recuperate from its state of lethargy and denial?

Basil | @itbwtsh

Tech, Science, Design, Economics, Finance, and Books.
Basil blogs about complex topics in simple words.
This blog is his passion project.