An unexamined life may be a worthless life. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to do away with examinations altogether in class X from 2013. The schools will conduct an internal examination. In other words, almost all the students will be promoted to class XI.
We have already created a pampered generation of youngsters today. They wield mobile phones worth tens of thousands of rupees, chat on the internet using the phones, watch movies and listen to songs, and interact with peers in the virtual world.
Just today I watched class XII students getting their project works written with the help of junior students. They don’t have the patience to write their own work. They won’t in all probability bother to read what the juniors have copied from the books for them. They will go for the practical examination armed with the project work copied by somebody else and get through too because of the influence their school wields over the external examiner who comes for the practical exam.
Teachers cannot scold or punish this pampered generation. If any teacher dares to do any such thing he/she runs the risk of being arrested by the police and thrown in prison thereby losing his job. Nobody who has spent a day in the prison can continue to be a teacher in this country. So it’s good bye to admonitions and impositions as far as the teacher is concerned. It’s a damn easy life as far as the student is concerned.
“Textbooks too heavy for children,” screams a 5-column headline in today’s Hindu newspaper [19 Jan]. The report opens thus: “Embarrassed over bad performance of Indian students, both nationally and internationally, Union Human Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday blamed it on ‘age-inappropriate’ textbooks in school curriculum.” In other words, Sibal is all for making the curriculum lighter still.
I agree that some schools introduce textbooks which are not at all suitable for students merely for the sake of projecting a certain high standard as revealed by the textbooks prescribed. Sibal’s remarks may apply to such schools which are a minority. As a solution, if Sibal decides to make the curriculum uniform all over the country and introduce the same textbooks I will not hesitate to support him. Regional differences and needs can be taken care of in the language textbooks which can vary from region to region.
But the young generation should not be pampered too much. There must be examinations. I wonder why Sibal and CBSE are so keen on doing away with the external exam for class ten. Observations made by teachers reveal that by making the exam optional in class ten last year we have got a set of students who do not deserve to sit in class XI at all.
Exam is a strong motivating factor for youngsters. In the words of Elizabeth Hurlock, psychologist, “Achievements bring personal satisfaction as well as social recognition (to adolescents). That is why achievements, whether in sports, school work, or social activities, become such a strong interest as adolescence progresses.” [Developmental Psychology]
Exam is a means of testing and proving one’s achievement. Why take away that pleasure from the adolescents? Why ruin their future by diverting their attention from academic achievement to other things where they will try to prove their worth in order to get recognition?
Internal exams don’t serve much purpose. Teachers often work under many restrictions, restrictions imposed by the institution, parents and the students. Internal exams are often a farce.
“Adolescents tend to aspire unrealistically high,” says Hurlock. Exams sometimes may have devastating effect on them because of that. But the solution is certainly not discarding exams altogether. It is making exams more meaningful and relevant.