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Saturday, Sep 17, 2005
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SINGLE-MINDED FOCUS: Students writing the Class X examinations.
Do not be hasty
The CABE move to make the Class X examination optional has given rise to a lot of apprehension among students, teachers and parents. When individual States are given the freedom to decide for and against the examination, what will be its effect on students migrating from one State to another during or after their course of study?
The present system is time-tested and comparatively complaint-free too. If the intention of the CABE is to accord prominence to Class XII examination, is it wise to shelve the Class X examination? If a few States choose to maintain status quo while others embrace the reform, is it likely that the standard of education will be the same across the country? All these questions need to be answered before the reform is put in place.
A great deal of deliberation and discussion should precede the reforms. The tendency to dispense with important examinations purportedly to ease the pressure on students is not likely to do good to the students in the long run. Public examinations should not be considered a burden. They help the students equip themselves for more important tests and acquire acumen, apart from enabling them to present their answers systematically, precisely and lucidly. Learning the hard way pays off, no doubt. The CABE proposal seems to be uncalled for in the prevailing scenario.
Proposal not helpful
Many of the reforms in the education sector in the country seem to lack focus. The CABE proposal will not improve the quality of education in the country. The Class X examination must continue, and making it a national examination with a streamlined process can prove fruitful. Different States following different systems will cause confusion and lead to quality deterioration.
Liberalisation, decentralisation and relaxations are the main aspects of reforms, as seen in India. These are good to some extent in some areas. But in a country of diversities and excessive political interventions, the education policy should be kept rigid and centralised for the sake of the younger generation.
Reforms should be fruitful in the long run and be conceivable to the majority. Comfort cannot replace diligence. Ideas theoretically attractive may not prove fruitful, if not implemented effectively. Policy and schemes, the implementing machinery and recipients of the policy all need be aligned to reach a target. This can only be achieved in a centralised education system.
The proposal to make the Class X examination optional is unwelcome so far as Kerala is concerned. It is quite necessary to continue the examination until a better system is brought out. By making it optional, the curriculum, syllabus and other schemes of learning contemplated for each level of education become a farce. The very purpose of the Class X examination is to determine eligibility for various vocational and educational needs of students. Correct evaluation on this account will be jeopardised if the examination is made optional. In order to measure the standards of students who have undergone a certain system of education, examinations are essential.
Class X is the culmination of the secondary stage. Hence, it is important to assess the student's understanding and assimilated knowledge of the subjects in a systematic way. In the present system of education, no other method has been found suitable to replace the examination, which evaluates the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process also.
V. Viswanathan Nambiar
Class X Board exams as optional does not seem to be a good idea.
In India, we have several boards conducting common examinations at the end of Class X. Then, students pursue higher education in their chosen stream or vocational courses. At some level, students have to be aware of their academic standing at an all-India level.
Board exams at the end of Class X help the students in this. Internal assessments by schools may not show the real worth of a student at the national level.
The proposal to scrap the Board examination is a step in the right direction. The ongoing system has generated stress. The stiff competition for marks at an early age is detrimental to the development of the children. The real purpose of learning is to develop mental faculties such as analysing power, curiosity, application and creative thinking. The foremost step to attain such faculties is to reduce the pressure on students by scrapping the Class X examination. This would make education more interesting and the knowledge will not be limited to learning by rote but its application for personal development.
Considering how they are conducted - testing a term's learning in just a few hours, inadequate objectivity in the exercise etc. - examinations do not always serve as a reliable index of students' knowledge or ability. Yet, there is the general tendency to see them as the `be-all and end-all' of education.
This life or death approach towards them, fuelled more by the parents' unhealthy desires and priorities, puts students under unnecessary and avoidable pressure, causing lasting harm.
At the same time, without examinations, the focus and seriousness of learning gets confused/diffused and the tendency for hard work and meaningful achievement in life will be distracted or diluted.
The ideal policy is to opt for the middle path: not abandon the practice altogether but retain it by allowing enough reform; scaling down its purpose to be a `filter medium' enabling gradation of talent, ability, efficiency, preparedness, brilliance etc., not to be a barrier shutting out supposed `mediocrity.'
Upon this premise, the urgency for change is in widening the scope of education so that students will have competent curricular training in as many of the necessary tools for successful and wholesome living as possible.
Check other options
Reforms in the education field are welcome. It is Plus Two that is important nowadays. The importance of Class X examination has lessened, especially after the grading system has been introduced.
If the CABE is considering making Class X examination optional, there is nothing wrong in it. The States can take their own decision for the convenience of the students.
To stop the conduct of the Class X examination is an option, but it can also be conducted like the examination for any other class.
A public examination for Class X is irrelevant. Students and their parents take too much stress and strain preparing for it only because it is a public exam. Since most of the students continue their studies, an examination at this stage is irrelevant. There is nothing wrong if it is dispensed with. The number of candidates seeking admission to Plus One is more or less the same as the number of Plus One seats available in Kerala. Hence, the Class XII examination is sufficient.
Good only for some
The proposal to eliminate the Class X examination is of no consequence as far as students who continue their studies are concerned. It will only relieve them and their parents of some tension and save the Government money.
But there are a good number of students who stop their studies after Class X to enter vocational courses or try for clerical jobs. Such students will be forced to study for two more years during which they will be taught subjects that in no way add to their ability to fill in the columns of the registers of a Government or private office.
If the SSLC examination is dispensed with, this category of people will suffer two more years of unnecessary study. Hence, it is better that the States retain the existing system.
The present system of education invites the students to cram their lessons without understanding them. This is memory, which will dwindle as one grows older.
If one cultivates the habit of reasoning memory, what one has studied can be retained and vitalised as one advances in age.
When a student enters Class X, he must freed of the method of learning that he has undergone. He must be provided with a curriculum that focusses on taking learning forward.
The role of the teacher should be restricted to guiding and correcting, discussion in classrooms, conduct of study classes, and familiarising students with the school library and books. All his readings and learning will remain in his memory and shape a successful career.
Fr. Antony Elevumkudy
If the Class X examination are made optional and the decision left to the individual States, it would create chaos in the educational sector. Higher education especially would be affected.
In India, students often migrate to other States for higher education. Usually, Class X examinations are used as a yardstick for admission to higher courses. When some States decide not to conduct the Class X examination, it will result in confusion. Because of the defective admission procedure then adopted, many students would be denied the opportunity for higher education. This would have far reaching consequences in the job sector too.
The CABE proposal should not be implemented in a hurry. Detailed research on the consequences of this proposal, both long-term and short-term, should be conducted by educationists. Views of students, teachers and parents should be sought. Only after discussions and debates are initiated should a decision be taken.
There are problems with the present Class X examination. But it is the problems that have to be eliminated, not the examination itself.
Focus on the ills
If this exam is scrapped, it will be difficult to evaluate those who appear for Government jobs and also for vocational studies. Instead of scrapping the examination, the Government should take steps to reduce the pressure on students.
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