Tamil Nadu

Govt. withdraws plan to hold public exams for Classes 5, 8

K.A. Sengottaiyan, Minister for School Education

K.A. Sengottaiyan, Minister for School Education   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

The government has withdrawn its decision to conduct public exams for these classes, following representations from the public

In a move that brought much cheer to teachers, students and parents, the Tamil Nadu State government withdrew its decision to hold public exams for Classes 5 and 8 in March and April.

Minister for School Education K.A. Sengottaiyan said following an announcement in September last year to hold public exams for the classes, they received several representations and suggestions from the public.

“The government has taken all this into consideration and has cancelled the government order to conduct examinations for Classes 5 and 8. The existing system of exams will continue,” he said, in an official statement. There will be regular annual examination in schools at the end of the academic year, he said.

Members of Students Federation of India distribute sweets to the students at MLWA Higher Secondary School as they rejoice the cancellation of public exams for students of standards 5 and 8, in Madurai on February 4, 2020.

Members of Students Federation of India distribute sweets to the students at MLWA Higher Secondary School as they rejoice the cancellation of public exams for students of standards 5 and 8, in Madurai on February 4, 2020.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok


The Cabinet discussed the issue on Tuesday and the decision to cancel the exams was announced soon after.

The initial announcement in September to conduct exams evoked sharp criticism from several quarters. Teachers, academicians and activists opined that it would only increase the burden and stress of students. On Monday, the School Education Commissioner addressed these issues in a circular, asking people not to be worried about the exams.

The decision to have a public exam based on the portions of all three semesters instead of just the final one, as had been the practice for the last few years, raised concerns as well. In a few districts, Education Department officials encouraged government schools to conduct special classes and short tests for students, which also drew flak from several quarters.

T. Arulanandam, State body member of Tamil Nadu High Higher Secondary School Graduate Teachers Association (TNHHSSGTS), said many students of classes 5 and 8 had been attending special classes since November 2019. “The teachers in government schools have been burdened with work. However, we now hope that our workload will reduce following the cancellation.” he said.

Across the State, activists, teachers and students welcomed the announcement to recall the decision to have public exams. Members of the Student Federation of India in Madurai visited different schools around closing time and distributed chocolates to students upon hearing the announcement. Thanking the Education Minister, the Tamil Nadu Teachers Association said the exams would have encroached upon the freedom of children and would have adversely affected students in rural areas. The School Teacher’s Federation of India too said that they were thankful that the welfare of students, teachers and parents had been considered.

Members of the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch, who proposed a campaign against the conduct of the exams, welcomed the announcement to withdraw the exams and stressed on the need for the State government to oppose the RTE Amendment Act, which had proposed the withdrawal of the no-detention policy.

P.K. Ponnuswamy, former Vice Chancellor, University of Madras, had a word of caution. “While the standpoint of teachers might be correct in the context of how late into the year the public exams had been announced, maintaining status quo of following an all-pass system and exposing the students to a competitive environment all of a sudden after class VIII might affect their confidence,” he said.

Stating that public exams would not provide a sudden solution, Prof Ponnuswamy added that there must be another effective mechanism in place to determine the quality of teaching and learning levels.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 11:25:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/no-public-exams-for-classes-5-and-8-says-tn-school-education-minister/article30733346.ece

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