Changes in Examination System vs. Effective Learning
“The purpose of learning is not to give exams in class and forget about it, but to increase the knowledge and being able to apply it…”
The issue I want to address in this piece is not only relevant but significantly connects to the idea of the conflict that arises time and again between the examination system and effective learning process.
We all know that the Central Board of Secondary Education has formally junked the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) scheme for classes IX and X, which was being followed in affiliated schools since 2009. Replacing it from the academic year (2017-18) is a new format — 'uniform system of assessment, examination and report card' — that aims at standardizing teaching and evaluation across schools. (Source: TOI NEWS)
While it could be seen and appreciated as a good initiative as it aims at combating the discrepancies and loopholes of the former CCE pattern, but at the same time it has created a state of apprehension and panic for a particular group of people i.e. the parents whose children are going to appear in CBSE class X Board Examinations to be held in 2018. The burden on the students to perform well under the age old pressure of “boards” has surfaced again and they are still in a state of dilemma and ambiguity as they have been “trained” according to the CCE pattern from the initial stages of their school life. This change in the pattern has also posed a great challenge in front of the school management as there is a sudden change in exam pattern and marking scheme and the present 10th class has to be prepared to face the boards in the limited time period. The new format is supposed to be a "gradual movement towards quality education through standardization of teaching, assessment, examination and report card and to gradually prepare the students for Class IX and higher classes where they will have to appear for exams for the entire syllabus”. But is it really a “gradual” change for present class 10th?
Under the CCE scheme students were assessed based on two term-end 'summative assessments' and four 'formative assessments' (two each in each terms). Sixty percent of the assessment was pen-paper tests, while 40% formative assessment during the year was continuous evaluation by teachers based on various activities. The new scheme too has two terms, but the pen-paper test weightage will be now 90%, which includes the 80 marks of the half yearly or yearly exam and 10 marks of the 20 marks set aside for periodic assessment in each term. Each term will be of 100 marks of which 10 marks will be for note book submission and subject enrichment (five marks each) under periodic assessment. While the half-yearly (term 1) exams for all the classes from VI onwards will be based on syllabus covered till the exam time, the syllabus for yearly exams will have a slightly different format and these exams will increasingly cover more of term 1 syllabus. Classes VI-VIII will have first term exam from the syllabus covered during this period and term 2 exam as follows: VI entire syllabus of second term + 10% of first term covering significant topics (left to the teachers and schools), class VII entire syllabus of second term+ 20% of first term and class VIII entire syllabus of second term and 30% of first term. Classes IX and X will have three periodic tests and the marks of best two will be counted in the final result. The final examination will be of 80 marks with the entire syllabus included.
The apprehensions and fears were recently reflected as I had an interaction with the mother of a class 10th student. She expressed that it would definitely be a challenge for her child to cope up with an entirely different examination pattern as he has been trained differently since the beginning of his school life. This is undoubtedly a matter of concern for the parents of the students who would appear in boards in 2018 as the time span to adapt to this change is less and obviously they would not get any chance to improve and learn from the ‘experience’ once they appear in the final exams.
Revolutionary changes always aim to bring a big difference. Let’s talk about GST, in this context. Goods and Services Tax (GST) is an upcoming system of taxation in India which will merge many individually applied taxes into a single tax. It was introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act 2016, following the passage of Constitution 101st Amendment Bill. The GST is a Value added Tax (VAT) proposed to be a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. It will replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and state governments. It is aimed at being comprehensive for most goods and services.
An empowered committee was set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee administration in 2000 to streamline the GST model to be adopted and to develop the required back-end infrastructure that would be needed for its implementation. In his budget speech on 28 February 2006, P. Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister, announced the target date for implementation of GST to be 1 April 2010 and formed another empowered committee of State Finance Ministers to design the road map. The committee submitted its report to the government in April 2008 and released its First Discussion Paper on GST in India in 2009. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 19 December 2014, and passed by the House on 6 May 2015. In the Rajya Sabha, the bill was referred to a Select Committee on 14 May 2015. The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha submitted its report on the bill on 22 July 2015. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 3 August 2016, and the amended bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 8 August 2016. The bill, after ratification by the States, received assent from President Pranab Mukherjee on 8 September 2016, and was notified in The Gazette of India on the same date. 1 July 2017 is fixed as its date of commencement. (Source: Wikipedia)
The reason I traced the entire development of the GST bill in India is to present in front of you a detailed idea of how a significant issue that is largely bound to change the face of the economy, is dealt with. Economic issues should definitely go through such stages of scrutiny but this brings us to the big question. Is education any less important than economy? If not, then why was such a revolutionary change introduced all of a sudden? Shouldn’t the authorities be more careful while bringing about changes in education and examination system? This we saw happened in the mid of 2009 also when CCE pattern was introduced in the midsession (fortunately this was notified before starting of the new session).After all, progress of any country whether economical, social or political lies on its effective educational system. Keeping this perspective, aren’t the frequent changes made in the education system, based on the whims of changing ideas of the authorities, alarming for the educational scenario of the country at large?
The reason behind raising the above stated questions is to request the authorities, especially the one regulating the education system, to be more cautious and thoughtful before implementing such changes. As education should always be an active process aiming for better learning and understanding and examination should be an assessment of what is learnt. And this could only be done successfully when the students and the institutions imparting education are considered the pivot around which these policies revolve and not the other way round.
“Education is not the amount of information that is pushed into the brain and causes havoc there, undigested all through a lifetime. Education must be a symposium of life-building, character- making and assimilation of ideas in the pursuit of building a more harmonious, peaceful and truly civilized world.”