The decision to scrap or make the Class X board examination optional has evoked a mixed response. While some are in favour of scrapping the examination, citing the stress on students as the primary reason, others are equally sceptical about this change. There is another question that’s nagging my mind and that is "Are we trying to sweep critical issues under the carpet by creating a mirage of scrapping the exams for Class X?”
The Class X boards grab all the attention for the simple reason that this is the first time most of the students get an opportunity to gauge their level against one another. In a country with a billion plus population, cut-throat competition in every sphere spares no one. To move forward in life, one has to jostle against the crowd. In this respect, we are doing no good by scrapping the board examination but are postponing the reality that one has to face. Two years down the line, one will have to appear for Class XII examinations and other competitive examinations. The stress in Class XII is much more than what it is in Class X. Stress can force a student in class XII into a suicide as well. So shall we scrap the Class XII exams and other competitive exams as well?
The right solution
So what should be the right approach at this juncture? What is wrong with the Class X examinations? Is it the exam or our attitude? It is definitely our attitude that makes the exams a mess. The pressure on children is due to the undue importance given to the exams. People aspire for good schools to realise their dream of entering a good college. And one aspires for a good college for a jump-start to a successful career. It is the career that motivates us, that drives our desires.
Can we stop students from excelling in their career? Can we remove the desire to be successful? If we can, then it would be a good idea to scrap all the examinations but if we can’t, we need to make Class X examinations more productive and useful for one’s career. Exams are important not at the cost of one’s health or life.
Children should be guided to cope with pressure, which they will eventually face in the life. We should realise that Class X exams are not only a test but also an opportunity that offers us valuable lessons for life.
Secondly, we need better career counsellors to guide students after Class X. Careers in science are lucrative and offer more opportunities than in other fields. This creates undue pressure to perform in Class X. Scrapping the exams are not going to placate this situation. The problem does not lie with the board exams, but with the lack of opportunities for higher studies, what with a scarcity of good colleges and a wide gap between the careers in different streams.
No wonder students are pressurised to perform at a very early stage. This reality will continue to exist. If we really need to make a difference, reform of higher education should be the primary objective.