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Updated: September 1, 2010 15:15 IST

The yardstick differs

Krishnaprasad
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STATE OF AFFAIRS: There is no uniformity in the methodology adopted by colleges for granting internal assessment marks. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan
STATE OF AFFAIRS: There is no uniformity in the methodology adopted by colleges for granting internal assessment marks. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

BU panel wants internal assessment stopped, citing many faults in the system.

Is lack of norms and different parameters used by universities and colleges to grant internal assessment (IA) marks affecting the interest of undergraduate students in the State? The report of a committee, comprising experienced academicians constituted by the Bangalore University's academic council, provides an answer to this question.

Referring to the weaknesses in the method to grant IA marks, the committee has listed eight reasons to support its recommendation to the University to stop the IA system in UG courses for two years on an experimental basis.

The weaknesses listed by the committee are:

The system is not implemented uniformly. Different colleges use different parameters to award IA marks.

There are different categories of colleges — government, aided and unaided — with differences in infrastructure, recruitment of teachers, admission of students, etc. This non-homogeneity has affected the uniform implementation of awarding of IA marks due to issues concerning regulation of these institutions. There are self-financing courses in the colleges, adding another layer of complexity.

Inadequate number of teachers coupled with starting of new courses without appointment of regular teachers. There are many colleges where regular principals are not appointed for a long time. Many courses, particularly self-financed, are offered through guest faculty.

For the sake of admissions, there appears to be a ‘popularity race' among some of the colleges.

Non-recruitment of adequate teachers has resulted in a very large gap in the teacher-student ratio, which has resulted in lack of objectivity in the award of marks.

Complaints of whimsical award of IA marks

In several cases the system has become a source of harassment of students.

The IA mark awarding system has become a major source of mistakes in the marks cards and is causing delay in announcement of results.

Even though the committee's findings are related to the affairs of the colleges affiliated to Bangalore University, a large number of academicians feel that the findings are relevant to other universities too, even though the magnitude of the problem is not as high as it is in Bangalore.

In fact, the IA marks were introduced by the universities to ensure continuous evaluation and assessment of students. While endorsing the principles on which the internal assessment was founded, the committee pointed out that IA was aimed at ensuring regular attendance of the students to classes and tests; to ensure discipline among students for enhancing their academic performance; to help the students to know their strengths and weaknesses; and to ensure good rapport between the teacher and the student.

Diluted

The report points out that the system of awarding IA marks is not implemented in the spirit of the founding principles, and non-compliance has diluted the system. Only a few colleges are implementing the process in a professional way.

K.G. Lokesh, a faculty member of Maharani Lakshmi Ammanni College, Bangalore, says that internal assessment has now become “internal adjustment” as the system is being misused by the teachers as well as the students. Prof. Lokesh points out that the “continuous assessment and evaluation” has no meaning now as a majority of the unaided colleges, particularly started during past 10 years, are running on guest faculty, who are not able to assess the students constantly.

H. Krishnegowda, a faculty member of BES Evening College, Bangalore, points out that there are several instances where students were harassed by the teachers in the guise of awarding IA marks. He feels that the University Grants Commission's guideline for continuous assessment is aimed at improving the skills of students and not subjecting them to harassment.

The Karnataka Universities Examination Reforms Committee (KUERC), headed by Chidananda Gowda, had found no uniformity in the methodology insisted by different universities to their affiliated colleges for granting IA marks.

The KUERC had also found that the proportion of internal marks varied in different universities and had recommended to the Government to formulate regulations for internal assessment besides bring a uniform methodology for this purpose, says Prof. Krishnegowda.

A vice-chancellor says: “The scheme of internal assessment has no legal backing and it would be difficult for the universities to defend it in the absence of a regulation if any aggrieved student challenges the system in a court of law. I hope the Government will keep these aspects when it amends the Karnataka State Universities Act.”

C.S. Murugendrappa, President, Federation of University and College Teachers Associations in Karnataka, says that there should be a regulation to award IA marks. “The problem related in this regard is more in Bangalore University as it has the largest number of colleges affiliated to it. Fixing uniform parameters for awarding IA marks through a regulation will be in the interest of students,” adds Mr. Murugendrappa.

“The students have a right to know how they are assessed internally. The process should be transparent and the universities should have the right to seek records related to assessment of students from the colleges in cases of complaints,” says Aravind Kumar, a final year student of an unaided college in Bangalore.

“The present system allows teachers to harass their students besides giving scope for discrimination based on caste, gender, etc,” says a lecturer of an unaided college.

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