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The tree and the pond: What we are doing wrong

  • Published at 04:31 pm December 5th, 2017
The tree and the pond: What we are doing wrong
Things have changed. The population went from around 60 million in 1970 to roughly 165 million in 2017. This has increased competition drastically. Gone are the days when your grades could portray your potential. There are 33,242 students walking around with a GPA5 right now. So if you want to be the best, you can’t expect your grades to define you anymore. The traditional conservative society fails to recognise the solution, which is to judge students holistically, not entirely on their academics. The top universities in the world, including Ivy Leagues, don’t have a “minimum GPA” for application. You could have mediocre grades but still find yourself in a prestigious institute. Last year, Jebin, a Bangladeshi student, received her Master’s Degree in Architecture from Harvard. She had graduated from BUET with a GPA of 3.5. Because there were no Grade Requirements, she could apply to Harvard. What made the cut was her essay. She talked about how she wants to study in Harvard and once she’s done, she aspires to return to Bangladesh and build schools and playgrounds for handicapped and underprivileged children. Her essay reflected her determination and potential, prompting them to accept her. Now she’s back, doing exactly what she promised she would do. Harvard University is a dream university for most change-makers. If Harvard is successful in not setting minimum requirements but still finding worthy students, who are we to argue? After all, our most prestigious institute, BUET, has a World Ranking of 2025 as of right now. Maximum institutes lack proper lab facilities, research centres, and even professors who don’t match the international standard. Some universities fail to provide courses that can compete with international courses. The conservative society is also very stubborn about the idea of students choosing something other than medicine, engineering and business as careers.

Dear society,

Remember when you were watching a cricket match on TV wearing a green jersey? Remember when you played your favourite Robindro-Nazrul songs, wishing there were artists just as good today? Remember when you got extremely emotional while watching that Shahrukh Khan movie and then complained that Bangladeshi film industry isn’t good enough? How can you demand change yet prevent it simultaneously? The celebration of academic excellence is killing those beautiful athletic, artistic and creative dreams. Having put forward all the facts, what I propose are: 1) Students should be allowed to study whatever they want to; peer pressure or conventional beliefs should not be a factor while deciding the next stage in their educational lives. Leading universities should broadcast this idea and initiate projects to turn this into a reality. 2) Applicants should be allowed to apply and considered regardless of their grades. 3) A student should be allowed to grow as a person first, and then academically. Educational Institutes should have at least one counsellor to talk to troubled students to ensure psychological health. 4) The Ministry of Education should set new, higher course standards that can compete internationally, which every single institution will be required to follow. The government should also make higher minimum-standard lab facilities mandatory, and establish a certain number of research centres. Professors and lecturers should be required to take training courses to make sure they possess full understanding of the new advanced courses. 5) Renowned international researchers should be invited more frequently to share their findings with the students. 6) The government should encourage student exchange programs and arrange internships in highly renowned international firms. Albert Einstein is believed to be the greatest intellectual till date, having formulated his famous Theory of Relativity. A fact less celebrated is that he used to be a horrible student. He was absent for about three months before finals and barely passed his exams. He used to say he didn’t like school. “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” He wasn’t the only one. Thomas Alva Edison, the mastermind behind illuminating the world with electricity, had a hard time at school too. This text was chosen as an Honourable Mention at A Paper for Progress, an international essay contest organised by Edge, the Foundation in Bangladesh. Discover the complete work on Edgethefoundation.com  
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