The Kerala Department of Higher Education is preparing a draft Bill to give a legislative spine to the proposals made by the R.V.G. Menon Committee.

In 2009, when it became clear to educationists, parents and students alike that the engineering / medical entrance examinations of 2010 would not witness any makeover, the question that popped up in the minds of many people was ‘what about 2011? Would the entrance reforms planned by the State government be implemented then?'

Though no one—the Education Department, the members of the R.V.G. Menon committee which drafted the reforms and Mr. Menon himself—is willing to hazard a guess on this issue, the answer to this question can perhaps be discerned from among ongoing developments on this front.

The Department of Higher Education is busy these days crafting a draft Bill to be presented in the Kerala Assembly. The idea is to give a legislative spine to the proposed reforms in the entrance examinations. Sources in the government told The Hindu-EducationPlus that once the Bill is finalised by the Education Department and is vetted by the Law Department it would be placed before the State cabinet—possibly during the second half of April.

From there the draft Bill would be sent to the Government of India for its concurrence. Such a concurrence would be required because a key reform suggested by the R.V.G. Menon Committee is that the marks of the qualifying examination and those secured in the entrance examinations be given a 50:50 weightage while preparing the engineering / medical rank lists.

This recommendation runs counter to the current position of the Medical Council of India that admissions to MBBS courses shall be on the basis of the marks scored in an entrance examination. Any change in this procedure would, therefore, require clearance from the MCI. After the draft Bill gets the Central nod, it would be placed before the Kerala Assembly and, if passed, would become an Act.

Meantime there are policy calls which the government would have to take. The issue of central clearance arises only in the case of the MBBS examination. So, would the government go ahead and put in place the reforms for all the other courses? Or would it choose to opt for the ‘entire package' route?

What would the government do if the centre expresses its inability to concur with the draft Bill? What would be the relevance of a State reforms package in the light of the All India Entrance Examinations planned by the Centre? Anyhow indications that government sources give point to the drafting of a ‘bare legislation' which would only chalk out the broad contours of the intended reforms, leaving sufficient legislative and administrative space to be filled up later.

The government has also asked a member of the R.V.G. Menon Committee to study how the scores of board examinations in other States can be ‘normalised' prior to being factored in for the preparation of an entrance rank list. The government already has with it a formula for normalising the scores of the Plus Two examinations of the CBSE and the ICSE.

The R.V.G. Menon Committee itself had come up with a formula. The marks or grades scored by a candidate for the relevant subjects in the CBSE, ISC or other equivalent streams will be standardised using the mean score and standard deviations. The standardised scores for each subject will then be mapped to the higher secondary platform using the mean and standard deviations in this examination. This score will then be placed on a scale of 0 to 100. The marks scored by a candidate in the entrance examination will also be placed on such a scale. Both these scores, calculated to an accuracy of four decimal points, will determine the position of a candidate in the entrance rank list.

The government has also asked the Former Joint Commissioner for Entrance Examinations Rajoo Krishnan to study the feedbacks received from the public to the recommendations of the R.V.G. Menon Committee. These two processes are, however, independent of the drafting of the Bill.

Other reforms relating to the higher secondary examinations—suggested by the R.V.G. Menon Committee —too are yet to see the light of the day. Among other things the committee had asked for external evaluation for the higher secondary examinations, introduction of a false numbering system, double valuation through a ‘camp mode' and valuation of HSE and VHSE answer papers under a single board.