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HRD Ministry’s proposals draw mixed response

Some States feel they should be consulted on reforms in school education

New Delhi: The move by the Human Resource Development Ministry to create an all-India school board and make class-X examinations optional drew mixed reactions, with Left Front governments in West Bengal and Kerala criticising it and the BJP dispensation in Gujarat supporting the idea of doing away with board exams.

Opposing HRD Minister Kapil Sibal’s plan for reforms, West Bengal Minister for School Education Partha Dey said the class 10 board examination should not be done away with.

“We are against this proposal of the Centre. Our view is that the 10th board examination should continue. And there cannot be a central board for school education in the entire country,” Mr. Dey told PTI.

He said the 10th board examination could not be scrapped as it helped evaluate the student’s level of competence and indicated which course of study he should pursue.

“Having a single board will not help in a country like ours which has a federal structure. Much of the cultural diversity will be lost if such a board is set up,” he said.

Reservations in Kerala

Similarly, the LDF government in Kerala too voiced reservations and called for a meeting of State Education Ministers to discuss the issue.

Talking to PTI in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Education Minister M.A. Baby said: “The move to scrap the SSLC examination will come as a shock to the people of Kerala, who attach much importance to the examination.”

Education being a subject in the Concurrent list and the country having a federal set up, it was important that the States be consulted to arrive at a consensus before the proposals were implemented, he said.

“The question is, how can the students move on to plus-two courses without a qualifying examination at the 10th standard level? How will the students be able to select the particular combination of subjects that [they] want to study at the plus-two level without the 10th class examination,” he said.

Since these were vital matters, they should be examined thoroughly and addressed in detail before rushing to conclusions, Mr. Baby said.

Different patterns

In the national capital, while some academicians favoured continuing with the ongoing system, many welcomed the government’s view on doing away with class X examinations.

“... Different schools follow different patterns of evaluation in their junior classes ... So class X exam has a particular role,” Annie Koshi, Principal, St. Mary’s School, said. “Examination at that particular point gives certain level of standardisation to schools.”

Father Herman Castellino, Principal, St. Xavier’s Boys’ Academy, on the other hand, viewed the proposal as a positive step forward.

“I am very happy after hearing that the Centre is thinking to do away with class X exams,” Father Castellino said, adding there was no parity in the evaluation system as different boards followed different marking patterns.

He suggested an open entrance after class X for those who wanted to pursue further studies.

Former students, however, reacted altogether in a different way.

“Absolutely not, I don’t think that the new system would do any favour to students. Eventually, at some point of time they have to appear for XII board which they would like to escape if they get accustomed to not appearing for such standard examination,” said Vikas, who has passed his XII board examination.

Besides, it will also dampen their confidence level and deprive them of getting an opportunity to get assessed by others, he added.

In Punjab, Educationists and parents welcomed the suggestion to scrap the class 10 board examination.

D.S. Bedi, director of the Shivalik group of schools which has institutions in Chandigarh as well as various towns in Punjab, told IANS in Chandigarh:

He said: “If this proposal materialises, it will be a blessing for both children and their parents. Most of the times, children have immense pressure on them in Class 10 and it interferes in their normal growth.”

“The pressure at this level is very alarming as in many cases we have seen that children could not withstand it and took extreme steps like committing suicide,” he said.

“Moreover, after Class 10 a student has to still study in the school, so what is the use of board exams? Till school level, the child’s competition should be only among his own classmates,” Mr. Bedi said.

Ashish Sharma, a parent and teacher who teaches mathematics to Class 10 in a school here, said: “The education system is quite tough and there is a drastic need to make such amendments. We are not here to churn out mere engineers or doctors, but our requirement is of better individuals.”

“This decision would certainly make our life more relaxed.”

However, the Punjab Education Minister favoured the continuance of class 10 board exams.

“I have not gone through Sibal’s proposal, but my personal immediate reaction to it is that nothing can replace exams and they should be there,” Upinderjit Kaur told IANS.

System in place

Maharashtra Education Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said in Mumbai: “There is a system already in place. If the government is proposing something like this, then they should have a dialogue with the States.” — PTI, IANS

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