Come May/June when students sit at the edge of their seats, chewing their fingernails, waiting for judgment to be pronounced on their future. For the parents, too, it is a tough call as they could very well do without the stress factor allied with the Board examinations. We have all experienced the anxiety associated with class X and XII Board exams; yet, it had never been a matter of life and death, literally speaking!
The ever-growing incidents of frustrated or disappointed students taking extreme measures has led to the review of the system of examination by the NCERT workgroup. Its recommendations look into the possibility of elimination of exams for those students who wish to continue their education, while elongate the process of class XII exams over a two year period, thereby reducing the pressures on the students.
Without going into the merits/demerits of the proposal, it remains pertinent to reflect on the present scenario where Board exams prove to be watershed in any student’s career. The parental pressure or the increasing competitiveness, notwithstanding; it is the entire concept of education that has hashed the present system.
There is a thin dividing line between being literate and being educated. Somewhere the lines have blurred. In an attempt to reduce the pressure on the students, subjects have been oversimplified to the extent of losing their theoretical equilibrium with practical application. The knowledge thus gained is fractional. With reduction of the course length, the student falls short in retaining any topic from one unit test to the final exam of the same session. Somewhere the analytical meticulous study done by the yesteryear students has given way to deficient and inadequate edition of general education. Generous marking schemes have made the matters worse, making students callous in their approach. No wonder then, our parents are able to do mental mathematical calculations in matter of seconds while today we depend on computer spell-check to even get our vocabulary acceptable!
Beyond doubt, children today are much smarter and have better exposure than what existed a few years ago. However, certain practices today in terms of teaching styles or the books taught lack depth. It is we who then are making weakling of the present generation by overprotecting them without doing justice to their intelligent minds. No wonder they are unable to absorb failure as well as they do success, resorting to extreme measures.
In many foreign countries while primary education is simple, the university education is much advanced. As a consequence, only those who are intelligent enough to cope with its pressure accomplish college level. Slowly Indian system of education is moving to that scenario, since many colleges are conducting their entrance exams even for regular courses, with little faith in the marking schemes of the Board exams. In decades to come we will probably have fewer number of graduates and additional percentage of college dropouts, despite the stated fact that more and more students are applying for higher education.
In the present times the concept of education has to look beyond simple literacy, with an endeavour on adding depth to existing practices of knowledge imparted. Education imparted at any level should be such that it lasts for a lifetime and not forgotten with successive class. Student and teachers need to go beyond the realms of curriculum and make each subject interesting enough for students to induce in them the voracious thirst for supplementary information. With technology boom and no dearth of information at hand, it surely will be an opportunity wasted if we are unable to produce Einstein in every child. Only then will we be able to differentiate between making one and all simply literate or justly educated.