“The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) has decided to constitute a committee to revisit the ‘no detention’ provision under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009,” says a newspaper report today [The Hindu, June 8, 2012].
Should free and compulsory education mean un-assessed education? Is assessment a bad thing? Is it necessary or even good to promote all students up to class 8?
Before I proceed with the answers, let me point out that ‘all promotion’ has, in practice, been extended to class 10 along with the implementation of what is called CCE (Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation). In March 2011, when the first batch of CBSE’s CCE students appeared for their class 10 Board exams they were given the option to write the exams either internally (in their own schools) or externally (at centres offered by the Board). Those students who did their exams ‘internally’ would have their answer sheets evaluated by their own teachers. Many students opted for the internal exam assuming that their teachers would be very generous. I know of one school at least which detained about ten students in the internal exam. When the result was sent by the school to CBSE, the Board returned it asking the school to promote all those students. The students were promoted. CBSE gave them mark sheets accordingly. But all those students fared miserably in class 11 and in March 2012 they failed to secure even ten percent marks in class 11.
This episode carries an important lesson. If you push somebody up the tree, he/she will fall down the moment your supportive push is removed.
The ‘all promotion’ policy does not really ensure the welfare of the students. On the contrary, it prompts the students to take the potentially dangerous view of life as a smooth process.
Life is never a smooth sail. Imagine yourself in a raft that is flowing smoothly over a gently flowing river. You have nothing to do but relax; the raft just follows the current. You fall asleep because you have nothing else to do, unless the view of the riverside can keep you enchanted and awake. While you are asleep, the river springs a surprise. A boulder appears. Your raft runs straight into it…
I view assessments as the small obstacles and problems that the river should offer in the course of our rafting so that we remain alert and learn (and enjoy) the skills of real sailing.
Is our education system doing any service to the students by removing that tool called assessment (test, examination, or whatever else one may call it)?
Assessment enables one to know where one stands, how much one has mastered the skills necessary for life. It also acts as a motivation for those who are not naturally motivated to master the skills. It offers challenges. It can be an adventure; it can be fun; it can be entertainment…
Why it should be viewed as a burden or obstacle is beyond my understanding. Isn’t it better to keep back the raft until one masters the basic skills of rafting than let him/her take the risk of perishing in the river?