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Education in India: Highlights of 2016

2016 has been quite an eventful year for India in the education space. Over the last 366 days, we have witnessed several incidents—from the delightful to the embarrassing and from the amusing to the bizarre. So here is a list of highlights from the Indian world of education in 2016, in no specific order.

Poverty lies in the heart
Pul Pandiyan, a 64-year-old man who earns his living by seeking alms in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, surprised the nation this year. He donated stationery worth ₹30,000 to an elementary school. It turns out that in the past, Pandiyan has also offered donations to 18 government schools located in various districts of Tamil Nadu.
Welcoming changes
CBSE’s annual inter-school competitions are one of the biggest events held in India, across all the CBSE affiliated schools. This year, the board introduced kabaddi and boxing in the competitions for the first time. The two sports replaced the existing games of wushu and carom and will be conducted for boys and girls under the age of 18.
PT stands for Personal Trivia
In a bizarre incident, students of class nine of a school in Maharashtra, were asked to name the girlfriend of Indian Test captain Virat Kohli, as part of their Physical Training (PT) exams. What’s more? The question offered options—Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone!
Prior to this event, the Indian Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) featured a question asking for a film for which Deepika Padukone won the Best Actress Award, in the Filmfare Awards 2016.
Return to his ‘ultimate home’
This year, Dr. Raghuram Rajan bid adieu to his role as the RBI Governor and returned to teaching, coincidentally around Teachers’ day celebrations in India. As Dr. Rajan embraced the position of 'Distinguished Service Professor of Finance' at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he expressed that his ‘ultimate home is in the realm of ideas’.
Determination is key
In Rajasthan, 82-year-old Shiv Charan was eagerly awaiting the results of his class 10 board exams, only to discover that he has failed them, for the 47th time! But this did not make him lose heart. He has pledged that he will not marry till he passes the exam.
Reducing burden
A much-needed campaign was initiated by 12-year-old Rugved Raikwar from Maharashtra. He sought media intervention to get schools to install lockers and reduce the weight of students’ school bags. Rugved made this move after observing that schools had ignored the Bombay High Court’s notice which asked for measures to be taken to reduce the weight of school bags. On Gandhi Jayanthi, he also observed a hunger strike till the State’s Education Department promised to take the issue seriously.
Bitter victory
The infamous case of Bihar’s class 12 ‘toppers’ hit headlines across the country in June 2016. The truth behind the results was investigated into, after one of the toppers pronounced political science, ‘the science of cooking’, as ‘prodigal science’ on camera. This incident throws light on the education system, the teachers and parents of these students, who encouraged dishonesty.
Hope our nation and our education system learns from these incidents and does better in 2017!