Schools without Exams?


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.]


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7 Responses to Schools without Exams?

  1. Aram says:

    Dear sir,
    Some days back i was wondering how i grew up and how the current generation kids are growing up!!
    Dad used to be strict, we got our share of scoldings and beatings and today am proud that dad had not let me go hayway!! But once 10th and 12th boards are scrapped then wt will merit mean?
    Well if they say everything comes down to entrance exam then the entrance exams like iit-jee will be sudden shocking jolts for kids who are not even seen a minor jolt like tenth boards!!
    Well how many suicides have we seen for tenth boards? I guess the suicide reasons are not only the boards but the other factors that exaggerate it!!
    Do reform the education system but not his way!! Reform it by making education accessible and let children be tough!1 The fire will make the mud pots strong otherwise the mud pots will be leaking and so fragile!!

  2. matheikal says:

    Thanks, Aram, for saying this.
    First of all, I think all this pampering (excess of it) of children should be stopped. It’s better to teach them the plain truth that life is harsh.
    Secondly, people like Sibal will end up killing merit. Politicians are experts in that business.

  3. DMR Sekhar says:

    Dear Matheikal,
    Scrapping the annual exams is a right step. We had annual exams [1970-71] in engineering [Andhra University] during our times. Later [1971-72] the system was changed to internal assessment. That is working fine.
    Earlier we had board exams at 12th standard. That too worked.

    Now look at the so called meritorious in IITs. Majority of the IIT seats are taken by students of Andhra Pradesh. Why? Are they more meritorious than the students from rest of the country? No! There are several corporate colleges that particularly train students for IIT like broiler chicken charging heavy tuition fees. Once these boys are in the IIT their original capacity comes out.

    What do we conclude? Two hours exam conducted once in a year can’t measure the knowledge and capacity of the student. I think it is time to introduce internal assessment with credit system for each subject and students must be given multiple chances in a year to improve.
    DMR Sekhar.

  4. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    Have board exams for every class, Sibal! Students will be inured to them! Bingo, no exam stress!

    Matheikal my problem is the focus on exams, to the exclusion of a broader look at education. Exams do not do their jobs – let the cream, a discerning mentality, rise. The solution is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have argued in many forums: MAKE THE EXAMS FORMAT FREE! You have to study the subject and NOT FOR THE EXAMS.

    The exam stress is also connected with the subsequent possible traumatic experience – college admissions. If we do not reform college admission procedures, exams are here to stay, Kapil Sibal or not.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

  5. Madhvi says:

    I believe any drastic change should be looked into carefully before implimenting it universally.
    I think he has used the word optional…let us see what he means by it.
    if 20% of children opt out of exams, so be it specially in class X.
    actually children learn at their own pace and should be allowed to take exams when they are ready for it…a system has to be evolved for that. this way stress related diseases and suicides can be reduced.

  6. Nikhil says:

    After many years, we finally have a sensible HRD minister. The need of the hour is to ensure that quality of education is improved, not the quantity. The 10th boards are just overhyped and do not serve any puropse that creating a mental block among students. we need a total overhaul of the education system and ensure that education is fun filled and imparted to all, especially at the primary level..

  7. Aditi says:

    Matheikal, internal assessments can go up just to a point, for unless there is an independent asesment of what the students have learnt through a Board Examination, it can not carry credibility, usual aberrations like favouritism and prejudic of subject teachers can not be wished away. Therefore XII Boards is very important. But I support Sibal’s plan to scrap the X exam as being ‘redundant’, but not on account of ‘de-stressing’, which is a ridiculous argument. ‘Matriculation’ or ‘Entrance’ Examination had always been the first Board Exam for more than a century now, and our forefathers who took them did not have heart attacks.

    Don’t you blog any more on Sulekha?



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