Many self-styled Dravidian ‘stockists’ often keep harping about how Tamil Nadu’s education system is the best and that the state is way ahead on educational parameters when compared to the rest of the country.
While striking a celebratory note about the state's undoubted good progress on education front is par for the course, what is often troubling is boastful claims often degenerates to denigrating those belonging to the northern states, especially of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as uncouth, unskilled and lacking education with jibes like ‘paanipoori wala’, ‘gomiyum gang’ and ‘cow piss drinkers’.
Higher Education Minister in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government K Ponmudy took to ridicule Hindi speakers as ‘panipoori sellers’ not once, but twice on different occasions.
DMK MP from Dharmapuri D N V Senthilkumar while speaking about the new National Education Policy in Lok Sabha said that it is the Dravidian model of education which should be implemented across India adding that the Centre should implement the National Education Policy in ‘gomutra’ states if they were keen on doing so.
Dravidian elites like DMK Finance Minister P T R Palanivel Thiagarajan even wondered if ‘lack of education’ was the reason behind the political choices of those in the ‘Hindi belt’. And a few days before, he put out a snobbish tweet boasting about Tamil Nadu’s higher gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education.
But the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 busts all these bloated claims of ‘Dravidian model’ of education. Students in Tamil Nadu fare way below the national average across classes and subjects.
Here are some data points that highlight the abject failure of the much-hyped Dravidian model.
Tamil Nadu Students Can’t Read/Write Basic Tamil
Only 25 per cent of Class III students were found to be proficient in Tamil. About 63 per cent of Class III students are at basic and below basic level. While the national average of marks scored by Class III students in language stands at 323, Tamil Nadu’s average score is 320 out of 500.
The learning outcomes in Tamil worsen as students progress to higher grades.
The average achievement score of Class V students in language is 298 (national average 309) and that of Class VIII students is 284 (national average 302).
For all the talk about Tamil pride by Dravidian stockists, Tamil Nadu fares the worst in ‘language’ of all the southern states.
Such has been the contribution of the Dravidian stockists in promoting and preserving the Tamil language.
On the other hand, students in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan have scored higher than national average.
Looking at this pathetic state of Tamil education in the state, it becomes amply clear that Tamil is not under threat due to Hindi or Sanskrit imposition but from the imposition of Dravidian model of development.
Tamil Nadu Students Lack Analytical And Basic Math Skills
Only 46 per cent of Class III students can read and write numbers upto 999 using place value. The numbers for Class V students would give a jolt as the average performance of children is less than 50 per cent in every skill listed.
About 58 per cent of Class V students can’t even apply basic mathematical operations in real life situations. It is a different matter that this is the case across India but what is important is that Tamil Nadu is below the national average in every parameter.
Only 40 per cent of Class VIII students were able to solve problems in daily life situations involving fractions and decimals. The national average for the same skill is 48 per cent. In every skill, Tamil Nadu students fare worse than their counterparts in other states.
The average score secured by Class X students in mathematics is a 20 less than the national average with only 7 per cent of the students having attained proficiency in the subject.
On the other hand, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh who the Dravidian stockists call as ‘paanipoori wallas’ fare much better than Tamil Nadu students. In fact, scores of Bihar (229) and Rajasthan (256) are way above the national average.
Alarming Levels Of Scientific Aptitude
The proficiency of Tamil Nadu students over science paints a pall of gloom over the scientific capital that the state can produce in future.
Only 2 per cent of students in Class X were found to be proficient having acquired the necessary skills and learning outcomes of their level.
The Learning Crisis Caused By Dravidian Model
It is not just NAS. Even the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), brought out by a non-government body highlights the dismal state of learning in the state. The last full-fledged survey of learning outcomes by ASER Centre was done in 2018 which notes that only 40 per cent of Class X students in the state are able to read a simple story in Tamil that is of Class II level. More than 75 per cent students can’t even perform basic division.
As someone who has worked for a considerable time in the education sector and having been a part of the ASER survey, I have witnessed the learning crisis first hand. Children struggle to even identify words and perform subtraction with carryover.
There could be many reasons for these learning outcomes and the learning crisis is prevalent in different levels in different states.
But one of the foremost reasons for Tamil Nadu to fare poorly is the poor standard of the Samacheer Kalvi syllabus introduced in 2009 by the then DMK government under M Karunanidhi which deteriorated teaching standards and learning outcomes thereby impacting their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
The substandard ‘Samacheer Kalvi’ syllabus dumbed down both the student as well as the teachers. All that the Samacheer Kalvi did was to encourage rote learning as students would be made to memorise the answers for the questions given at the end of a lesson and only those questions are asked in exams. Some students even memorise a mathematical problem step by step.
While a student can ‘mug up’ the answers and secure marks in their school or public exams, their knowledge acquired gets exposed when they are made to face a competitive exam which tests the understanding of concepts.
This is precisely the reason why students like the late Anitha score decent marks but fail to crack competitive exams like NEET and JEE.
This rotten system of education is what signifies the Dravidian model of education. If one were to take DMK MP Senthilkumar seriously, India would be in serious trouble.
While it is true that Tamil Nadu’s GER in higher education institutions is high compared to other states, those who come out of college are equipped with a worthless degree and skills to enroll as delivery partners of food aggregator apps.
So, instead of spinning stories after stories on Dravidian model and derogating other states as ‘paani poori waalas’ and ‘gomutra states’, instead of the empty rhetoric over Tamil, instead of mindlessly opposing entrance exams, instead thumping the chest about being ahead of rest of the country in GER, it would do good for the current dispensation in Tamil Nadu to improve the state of learning in the state.
This is a slightly modified version of an article was first published here.
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