More preparation needed

Scrapping of the Class X public examination of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has been under discussion for several years now, since the NCERT recommended it as part of a reform process and to reduce the stress on students. In recent times, academic performance has emerged as the almost exclusive determinant of one’s career and, as a consequence, the pressure on students, both at home and in school, to score very high marks and figure in the top bracket increased manifold. In extreme cases, failure to perform to the expected level drives students even to commit suicide and, ominously, the number of such suicides is on the rise. It was in this context that the NCERT came up with the suggestion that the public examination at the Class X level be dispensed with and a grading system of performance evaluation introduced. Such a reform will, however, be impracticable at the Plus Two level, which marks the take-off point for graduation courses, particularly because even a 0.25 per cent difference in the cut-off mark can make a huge difference to joining the professional stream.

It has been announced that, from 2011, taking public examination at the Class X level will be optional in the CBSE schools and it will be offered on-line and off-line. Strangely, more than the schools and teachers, students seem to resist this change. They would like their performance to be assessed at the State or national level through a public examination, rather than be evaluated at the school level. Internal assessment, tried out in the past, has thrown up questions of credibility, objectivity, and uniformity in standards. The grading system, as proposed now, recognises nine levels of performance — from ‘outstanding’ to ‘unsatisfactory.’ It is crucial that a system of evaluation which is viable and qualitatively exemplary is put in place. At the end of Class X, CBSE students in certain regions tend to switch to the State board system for the Plus Two course with the specific aim of scoring higher marks and they may need a record of performance in a public examination. Further, CBSE students do not generally terminate their studies at Class X level. Since Education is a concurrent subject under the Constitution, States are free to have their own system. Not many States appear inclined to fall in line with the CBSE initiative. It remains to be seen what proportion of Class X students end up skipping the examination. The Central government will do well to work for a national consensus on such far-reaching reforms, especially at a time when the country is preparing to open the doors to foreign universities.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 1:17:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/More-preparation-needed/article16881179.ece

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