Of Class X and Class XII exams
Covid : Changing the trend
The new normal. And it remains to be seen how this new normal will impact on the annual examinations which students have to face every year. Given the system in vogue here where formal education is exam focused, it is hard to even entertain the thought that school or even college education will need to be understood sans the annual examinations, but perhaps this is the right time for everyone, particularly educationists and the policy framers of the land to take another look at the primacy placed on the annual examinations. Situation is such that examination is central to all that is understood as school or college education today and parents, guardians and students themselves cannot be faulted for placing all the importance on the annual examinations. And when one talks about the primacy placed on annual examinations, then it invariably boils down to how much mark the student has scored. This reality comes out in all its glory during admission time to college every year. Just to cite an example, any student scoring less than 90 percent is unlikely to get admission in one of the more reputable colleges at Delhi University. This is about the students who belong to the General category and do not enjoy reservation perks. Yet at the same time it also stands that the cut off even for those who come under the reserved category such as Scheduled Tribe, Scheduled Cast, OBC and now the Economically Weaker Section is astronomically high. The obsession with marks and more marks and hence annual examinations will however need a relook, thanks to the Covid pandemic which has given a totally new definition to the understanding of conducting classes.
With the second wave of the pandemic wreaking havoc across the country, it is therefore not surprising that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to cancel the Class X examinations and instead focus on the year round performance of the student while promoting them to the next class, that is Class XI. The Council of Indian School Certificate Examination, which conducts the ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) examinations has also decided to cancel the ICSE exams this year while postponing the ISC exams. Manipur too has decided to keep in abeyance the Class X exams conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur and the Class XII exams conducted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur. A number of other States have either cancelled or postponed the Class X and Class XII examinations including the States of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir etc. No one knows when the virus will fade away, but the Covid pandemic has made it mandatory for everyone to take another long and hard look at how exam obsessed the whole education system is. Perhaps this is the right time for the policy framers of the land and educationists to think of ways on how the mettle of a student can be tested other than the three hours schedule students have to undertake at the end of every academic year. This is also the time to get a better understanding of classroom teachings and while there may not be a better alternative to physical interactions between the teachers and the students, perhaps it is time for educationists to look beyond the classrooms.