“College life must be so amazing”- says a student who gets regular homework at school and tuition. In fact, at least for once this was said by all of the us-the colleges going students. But this amazing rather the Bollywood type college life comes at a price of “85% compulsory attendance”. Attending classes only made sense until we concentrate on taking class notes.
In almost every college either of the batch protest against compulsory attendance. The vast majority of college students in India have always existed in a system that requires mandatory attendance: either as a carrot (5% on your final grade just for showing up!) or as a stick (No attendance? No exam).
“You may be physically present in the class, but not mentally”- this is one of the most common lines delivered to those us. How many of us in real follows the class notes and also sit in the exam remembering the day of the lecture? Maybe 4 out of 10. As soon as the teacher enters the class the first thing that comes to our mind is that when does the period ends.
Did the mandatory attendance requirement keep you from looking at your phones to pass time? Did it keep you engaged in the professor and the subject? The best universities the world over do not have mandatory attendance requirements; at most they leave it up to the teachers to decide their own grading systems. In this, like in many other educational issues, India has refused to modernize.Although some of the institutes have adopted their own grading systems.
The Indian institutions use the great way of mandatory attendance to hide the inability of the highly educated professors to teach. They might have degrees we can only think about but they do lack the ability to connect to the young minds. It is obvious that students want to attend the lecture only if they understand what is being taught otherwise nobody wishes to be in the class looking at the time.
It’s insulting to assume that the alternative to attending a class is wasting time.Despite all efforts by our parents to delay the growing-up process, we’re (more or less) adults. We’re supposed to be able to take a look at our time and decide if it’s worth skipping a class to go work on another assignment, or read in the library, or prepare for an upcoming exam, or go for a walk, or attend a debate, or sleep in. We’re supposed to be old enough to know the consequences of not attending a class and the difficulty in playing catch-up on the information in our own time. If we’re not trusted with the ability to make such choices now, then what happens later?
Mandatory attendance is never questioned because it’s the norm at most Indian universities, like dress codes and gender segregation and hostel in-timings. But that’s exactly why it should be questioned. We’re a nation founded on the idea of protest. We’re meant to be argumentative. At the very least, we should be willing to question these basic “fundamentals” and see whether they’re worth holding on to.