Doing away with the 3 hour exams Lessons from pandemic

There are lessons that can be learnt from the ongoing global pandemic and apart from upgrading the health care system, it is time the Government and the people who come under the profession of teaching come to deal with the question of whether testing the knowledge of a child in the three hours period, known as examination should be the final yardstick. The cut throat competition that youngsters are being exposed to now, means that at the end of the day, it is not a case of the student being tested but being ‘graded’ and making things more complicated is the fixation of everyone, the Government, the  schools and teachers and parents and guardians who view the performance of a student only via the marks that the child scores in his or her final exams. With the Covid pandemic raging across the country, the CBSE, CISCE and many State boards  including the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur and Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur decided to do away with the annual Class X and Class XII exams this year. The high pass percentage or high marks allotted to the students can be a matter of concern, as it reflects on how sincerely some schools did grade their students, but it was a sort of a relief to see the numerous private institutions here not going to town, offering freebies to the position holders or high mark scorers. Nothing wrong in acknowledging the position holders and high mark scorers, but when the private institutions start offering freebies and other ‘extras’ to attract the highest mark scorers, then would it serve the purpose of education in any way ? This is a question which everyone including parents must have started raising a long time back. Schools and educational institutions riding on the back of a student who has already proven his or her mark scoring prowess should not make the school extraordinary but should seriously raise a question on how well it prepares its students for the next hurdle in life, which in this case would be the next exam and beyond.
This line of reasoning should be simple enough. Making a topper in Class X top or be in the top five in the Class XII exam should not be so much of a challenge and the real mettle of a school should be decided on whether it has been able to make a student who scored 70 percent in Class X score 95 percent in his or her Class XII exam. How well does the school prepare the student for the later life can also be seen from how its students who scored 95 percent in Class XII proceed to the next level in their academic pursuit. And when one talks about schools, can coaching classes be far behind ? At the moment all coaching classes are closed due to the pandemic, but if Covid had not made an appearance, then one would have been greeted by the self thumping slogans of the numerous coaching classes that have mushroomed all over the place, particularly in Imphal. The point is, let the pandemic be a lesson to all that the performance or merit of a student need not be solely judged by his or her performance in the annual exercise called examination. Let there be other criteria and hopefully the doing away of the Class X and Class XII exams this year should enable people to look at the academic pursuit of a student from a fresh perspective.