India’s Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, intends to do away with Board exams in class X. The reason is that the exams are a source of stress to students. Sibal wants to save young students from suicide arising out of exam-related stress.
How many students feel that the class X exams are a serious source of stress? 5 per cent? Or at the most 10%? For those students who take their life sufficiently seriously class X exams are as much fun as any other competition in life.
For the intelligent and serious students exams are a way of proving their skills and showing their superiority over the others. Even the average students don’t take class X exams so seriously as to put an end to their lives in case they perform badly. There is a minority for whom the exams are a headache. Even among them only a very small fraction will consider suicide as the way out of their predicament. Should the whole system of evaluation be scrapped for the sake of this tiny minority?
Exams are a means of showing the students as well as others (parents, teachers, institutions of higher studies, etc) where they stand as far their knowledge acquisition is concerned. Exams are a motivating force for students to sit and learn some things seriously. How many students will take their studies seriously if exams are scrapped altogether? Those intelligent and self-motivated students will. But the carefree attitude of the vast majority will be a serious dampener to them.
Mr Sibal plans to do away with the class XII exams too eventually. It will be interesting to observe how much serious study will take place once the exams are scrapped.
Sibal actually plans to make the exams optional. Those students who want to pursue higher studies, or those who want to prove their skills can take the exams. That’s not a bad idea. In other words, what Sibal means is those who are serious about studies can study and take the exams. The others can do whatever the heck they feel like doing.
Will that be a great service to young students who are not mature enough to understand what’s good for them and what’s not?
[It will be a great service to teachers in private schools where great emphasis is laid on the board results. There are schools which withhold the teachers’ annual increments if the board results in their respective subjects are not up to the school’s expectation. There are schools which profess before the parents’ bodies and academic inspectors that imparting life skills is more important than academic results, but go on to punish their teachers if the academic results fail to square up to the management’s dreams. Sibal may come as a redeemer to such teachers.]