What’s in a name?

In many Indian cities, children from many schools, in every nook and corner, appear for Maths and Science Olympiads every year. Schools send the exam forms home and children right from the first grade up to the tenth grade appear for these exams. A Delhi-based organization that calls itself as Science Olympiad Foundation (www.sofworld.org) sells books for these exams, collects exam fees and conducts quite an average exam for lakhs of children all over India. There is nothing wrong in selling books, conducting exams or distributing prizes and certificates at scale. The problem is when they call these exams as ‘National Olympiad’ or ‘International Olympiad’ and mislead people into thinking that they are participating in Olympiad exams. It is like a sports club in New Delhi organizing a national swimming competition for school children and calling it Olympics or a Mumbai-based magazine conducting a story writing contest and distributing “Gyanpeeth” to the winners! These phony Olympiads have given a wrong idea of Olympiads to many children, parents, schools and teachers. Many parents and teachers are under the illusion that their 8-10 year-olds are successful in national and international Maths or Science Olympiads!

The details of the actual, authentic Olympiad exams can be found at http://olympiads.hbcse.tifr.res.in/ . International Olympiad Exams cannot be taken from India. One has to get selected in the Indian Olympiad team and needs to travel abroad to participate in it.  So far, India has hosted International Mathematical Olympiad only once, in 1996. Hence, if we are participating in any International Olympiad every year from our own city in India, then there is something fishy about it.

Note: When my child was 9-10 years old, I had a similar misconception of my child winning Olympiad medals.



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