Saturday, 22 April 2017

Not A Smart Choice

It has hardly been a month since students sat for the Secondary Education Examination (SEE), and most of them have already become busy with their ‘bridge courses’. Bridge courses have become a fashion these days; it seems as though those students who do not take such courses are going to miss out on something very important in their life. Are they really that important?
I do not think so. In fact, this break is very significant for the SEE students. They have completed 10 years' of schooling, so they now have a chance to reflect on those years to better prepare themselves for the future. Instead of devoting their time to bridge courses, they can do numerous other things which will be more valuable. For example, they can go for skill development programmes, such as basic sewing, cooking, typing, writing, public speaking, basic first aid and many others. These life skills are always useful.
 Another alternative is travelling. In Western countries, almost all students take a gap year after they complete their schooling, and they utilise this time to learn more about the world. For this, they usually do backpacking which allows them to go to different countries where they work for their daily expenses. They travel carefree and learn many life lessons. Then, they think they are ready to enter the next phase of their life, i.e., either further studies or work.
 Although backpacking is not common in Nepal, young adults are able to, at the very least, explore different parts of the country which are accessible for them. Additionally, they can discover various activities to do which interest them.
Bridge courses rarely challenge students, as most of them are only operated for business purposes. I talked to a couple of students who took such courses, and their responses were negative because they did not find them helpful to hone their study skills. Basically, the providers of these courses claim that they prepare the students to get through different types of entrance examinations so that they can study the subjects they like in grade 11.
An entrance examination is a standardised aptitude test which measures students' collective knowledge in different skill areas, such as verbal, mathematical, analytical and writing skills. Different colleges have different test formats and students can obtain them from the college where they intend to apply. The students who are good in studies at their school can easily pass the entrance exams if they collect a certain amount of information about the format of the exams and timing. In terms of subject matter, what they have learned so far will be enough as the entrance tests measures their potential to perform well in future. A student who does not have the ability to do well, let's say, in mathematics cannot excel in this subject even if he attends a bridge course.
Therefore, I suggest the SEE takers to choose better options over merely a bridge course so that they can better utilise this break from rigorous studies.
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, April 21, 2017 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Friday, 21 April 2017

Real Brahmacharya

On the basis of traditional knowledge I used to mean that Brahmacharya is a term used to indicate a significant aspect of religious disciplines of the Hindu tradition, according to which a man remains unmarried throughout his life to devote himself to God’s service. Sometimes this made me question, “Why should one be deprived of marriage to serve God?” “Don’t the Gods enjoy the company of their partner Goddesses?” “Then why the same Gods order poor human beings to observe Brahmacharya?”
Thanks to Alistair Shearer, a translator of Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’, who cleared my doubts. He argues that from the earliest times Brahmacharya has been wrongly attached to sexuality. In fact the true meaning of Brahmacharya is “moving in the Immensity” or “living in Reality.” He urges that Brahmacharya should not be confined merely to sexuality, instead it should be taken in its widest sense as true “chastity.”
Alistair’s interpretation of Brahmacharya has provided me a framework to understand this concept more deeply. In fact Brahmacharya is to live a life truthfully. There is no problem with a faithful marriage but if a married person involves in adultery, then his Brahmacharya is seriously jeopardized. A Brahmachari must be pure in his thoughts, words and actions. It is relevant to relate a story of two monks here.
Once there were two monks who needed to cross a river. They were about to step into the water when they heard a female voice behind them, “Excuse me, will you please help me to cross the river? Because I’m scared to cross it alone.” Monk A turned back, smiled compassionately at the woman and replied, “No problem. Come on lady, hold my hand.”
Monk A took the woman safely to the other side of the river, left her there and continued his journey, following by monk B. They walked silently for a while. Then monk B curiously asked, “Hey friend, aren’t we taught not to touch a woman? Knowing this, how you dared to hold that woman’s hand?” Monk A looked at his friend blankly and replied, “She needed help so I helped her to cross the river. As soon as I took her to the other side, my duty was over, and I forgot her. But why are you talking about her now?” This answer made monk B feel ashamed. Even if he did not touch the woman he was carrying her in his mind all the time. On the contrary, his friend was simply fulfilling his duty without thinking about her.
Similarly, every Brahmachari should be as truthful inside-out as monk A who can clearly differentiate between responsibilities and lust. There is no harm in a marriage itself since it is a beautiful and strong institution in our culture. In addition, whether to get married or not is entirely a personal choice because the God has given all of us a free will. A problem only arises when the married person forgets the value and purity of marriage and involves in extra-marital affairs or such things. Most importantly, when someone sets a higher goal to achieve, then the lower goals seem less significant for him. It should be noted that all human beings have the potential to be in Brahmacharya and serve the God with true actions, words, thoughts and emotions.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, April 14, 2017 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Levels Of Traps

Right now, one lot of students have just completed their Secondary Education Examination (SEE) and another is preparing for their twelfth grade exams. Soon, these students will face a dilemma when it comes to choosing what direction they want to head towards after receiving their results.

It is unfortunate that in our society, a majority of parents expect a lot from their children. In general, they do not care about their child's interests and abilities, but pressure them into studying one of medicine or engineering. To make the situation worse, a number of educational consultancies sell these young people sweet dreams of becoming doctors and engineers without breaking a sweat.

Problems arise when students do not get the right information at the right time. Since the secondary and post-secondary education systems in Nepal have been going through a transition phase, the task of deciding on a career has become even more challenging for students. As there is a tough competition and a limited number of spots available in the medical and engineering fields, only a few students succeed in the university entrance examinations to study these subjects. In an effort to live their dreams through their children, parents often see sending their children to India to pursue medicine or engineering as the next best alternative.

Unfortunately, these young school leavers do not have sufficient information about Indian colleges or universities to choose what is best for them by themselves, so they inevitably depend on educational consultants. Those who got relatively low scores have a meager chance of getting accepted into an authentic Indian college. Most of the consultants are simply money-minded; they do not care about students' future. They make students believe that they can find a medical or engineering college for them; only, they do not tell them that it is highly likely that the college is fraudulent.

Most students are probably unaware of the existence of a government body, the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is responsible for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education in India. Recently, the UGC released a list of 23 fake universities on its website, and it is obvious that the degrees provided by such universities are useless. Similarly, another authoritative organisation, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) also published a list 279 fake technical colleges or institutes. It is clear then that students should not trust educational consultancies blindly.

What they can first do is their own research. These days, almost all students have access to the Internet, so they can quite easily determine which colleges seem genuine; contacting a consultancy should be considered an option only once this step has been completed. If hesitant, they can ask for their family’s help. Parents have just as important a role as students when it comes to making decisions about education; it is crucial for them to avoid pressuring their child to study specific subjects without considering their wishes. Parents should never forget that their child will only realise their full potential and excel when studying a subject they love and enjoy.
 (Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, April 7, 2017 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]