The major concerns about the entrance examinations for admissions to engineering colleges are multiplicity of tests (leading to stress?), a flourishing coaching industry which is not affordable for the poor, and the complete ignorance of school by students. But unfortunately, the new format, introduced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is aimed at solving none of them.
First of all, I would like to ask our Minister which survey or report suggests that a multiplicity of examinations causes more stress.
Till now, for seeking admission to a Centrally-funded government institution, a student has two opportunities — IIT-JEE and AIEEE. One of my friends failed her IIT-JEE examination (in 2009), could not make it to an IIT, but got a three- digit rank in AIEEE (among 12 lakh students) and a two-digit rank in DCE (for the Delhi College of Engineering). Did multiplicity reduce or increase her stress? Had there been just one examination, her career would have been doomed.
The new format will combine the IIT-JEE and the AIEEE, and hence admissions to all Central government-funded institutions (the IITs, the NITs, the IIITs) will take place through this new examination, which means a student has got just one opportunity to perform, leading to more stress.
But what about private colleges? The new format says the entrance examinations for private colleges like BITS, VIT, Manipal , Symbiosis, etc., would continue.
The private colleges charge not less than Rs 1,000 for their entrance test, a huge source of income for them. But the new format has done nothing about it. It is clear that the government is selling the country a myth of “one nation one test.”
Rather than running after coaching institutes to shut them down, the government should have done some retrospection. Coaching is nothing but a form of tuition. A tutor is required only when our existing systems fail to deliver.
Nowadays, students, as early as in Standard IV, go for tuition, because our schooling has perhaps failed miserably. Lack of teachers and basic facilities like toilets and water, to name a few. Will our honourable Minister ban all these tuitions too?
When you have to select 5,000 out of 12 lakh students, the standard of the examination will definitely be tough. Had the school education been efficient and sufficient, there would not have been any need for coaching at all.
With the issue of coaching the government is worried for the 95 per cent who do not make it to the IITs.
But what will the new format do?
With the new format in place, a parallel coaching industry would flourish, promising excellent results in board examinations as well. In fact, a few coaching centres have already started 2-in-1 study packages.
A sincere effort could have been made, starting with a screening test in Standard XI itself, to be conducted by the IITs, which would filter the students and keep a check on the coaching industry, which makes false promises to students as well as parents, and keeps minting money for two consecutive years.
In Standard XII Boards, for physics and chemistry, 30 out of 100 marks are awarded for practicals (laboratory performance), the sole criterion of which is “impression on teachers.” If you were the favourite student, you got 30/30, and the range of marks would be 25-30.
What is the point of increasing the “importance of boards” when a significant number of board examinations are based on an indifferent syllabus, and a teaching style that discourages analytical skills and creative thinking and actually promotes rote learning?
In the IIT-JEE merit list, one mark is equivalent to 100 ranks — i.e., with a difference of one mark, a difference of 100 ranks occurs. Such is the high competence level of the IIT-JEE. Now imagine a student securing a better rank, by 500 points, just because the school teacher gave him 30/30 in the practicals. What a joke! Imagine the quality of students who would be entering the IITs.
What logic suggests that we inject something that is plagued by different kinds of unfair practices (board exams) — paper leaks, mass copying, corruption, schedule glitches and revaluations — into an entrance system that is currently working without these influences?
With 42 board examinations in the country, I fail to understand how the normalisation process will be done. In one board, 70% could be 95 percentile, while in another, 85% could be 90 percentile.
Hence, the IIT-JEE should not be scrapped at all, and instead of imposing his own “creative ideas,” our Minister should initiate wider consultations with all stakeholders of the IITs — professors, students and the alumni — to find solutions.