Monday, May 19, 2014

Assess the reforms

It has been almost five years when CBSE New Delhi introduced the new pattern of assessment and evaluation popularly known as CCE. There were apprehensions and problems related to the proper implementation of the system. This was same for all whether it be a student, teacher or the parents. The then HRD minister was very fond of this and wanted to give autonomy to the schools so that comprehensive evaluation could be done and the performance card reflects complete picture of the child`s personality and gives a fair idea to the child and the parent about the areas of strength so that they could work to build on the strengths of the children. Another important reason was to reduce the stress of the school going children and make learning an enjoyable exercise. In the first two years CCE was expanded with different words, confusing everyone how to implement it. Though CBSE tried to its level to provide best possible assistance to the schools and the teachers and a number of schools and teachers have been able to implement this scheme quite successfully. However, there are many schools which are struggling to comprehend and finding it very difficult. Unfortunately, such people do not raise their voice in public (as some students do not ask questions in the class fearing that he/she may be ridiculed by the teacher or other students for not understanding or knowing that also) but they do express their issues in private and informal chats. There are a number of parents who complain that the stress of their children has increased because the children remain busy all through the day and do not get much time to enjoy. The CCE pattern advocates learning informally, not necessarily in a structured manner but that is not happening in all cases. The projects, assignments, activities have become so monotonous and being repeated in many cases that the children have started losing interest.
 CCE has been in place for quite some time so it becomes important to assess the impact of this on the learning of the children and to understand whether the objectives behind are achieved or not and if yes then up to what extent and what more is to be done. For this the concerned authorities should do serious study and share the results with all stakeholders. Till this is done it will be difficult to satisfy the people about the results of these reforms in regard to the evaluation particularly. Though I have not done any survey or study (I think I do not have the expertise in that) but I would like to share my observations and what I come to know while talking to the teachers, parents and the children. As mentioned in my earlier article also everyone feels that the implementation was done in hurry and the ripples have not yet settled. What we did was to feed a child without letting him feel hungry and in such cases the children vomit whatever may be the quality of the food being fed. I always felt the stakeholders must have been prepared to realize the need of CCE and in spite of forcing them to follow this they should have been made the part of the change. The teachers feel that their work load has increased because of so many records that are to be kept for the reference of inspection etc. The children find that the stress of the work has increased in contrary to what was expected to happen. The parents still say that they are not able to understand the progress of their child though one of the objectives was that this evaluation method will give clear picture to all regarding the progress made by the children. These three stakeholders are the key to success of any reform and if they feel so then the success of the scheme seem to be in doubt. I said in the beginning only that these are my observations and may not be true necessarily but I can say with confidence that these give us trend of what is happening.
Now I would like to elaborate on what is shared by the three stakeholders. The children say that the amount of work given to them in the name of FAs is too much and they get little time to do other things. Most of the times, the parents help their kids to search for the information required. Probably the idea of learning to explore self even if forces you to try many times but the children try to give the most correct answer otherwise their grades may go down. In many a cases, the children are assessed on the way task is presented than the real learning which could have taken place in the process. There are many tasks given where the internet connection is required but there may be many kids who may not have the same at their home and the parents would not allow them to go to internet café. The teachers and children feel that they get little time to cater to the needs of every child because of the size of the class (the number of students may be up to 80-90 in some cases and the duration of the period 40-45 minutes).
The teachers are finding it difficult to cope up entering the marks/grades in the diary or registers and the time which could have been used for preparing the lesson plan as per the need is wasted. This they find difficult mainly because of the number of children in the class. They also say that as the training provided to them has not been a rigorous one so they were not fully equipped to take up this task. They feel more time is needed to prepare for the classes they have to teach (the number may range from 4-6 classes everyday).There are many parents who share that they have not been able to understand what is learned by their children. The frequent changes in the policy of promotion are also contributing to the confusion. One such issue raised by many is the PSA conducted by CBSE and FA 4 replaced by those in classes IX and X both. Some people have raised the question that in the name of giving autonomy to the schools reverse is being done because earlier there was no role of the board in class IX. The OTBA is introduced that also has enlarged the stress on the children. Many people question the tendency of assessing everything particularly in case of ASL introduced this year.
These are some issues which I have mentioned but lot more is required to be attended and taken care of. Unfortunately, not many people want to be tagged as being against the reforms so do not come forward to share their concern and problems. We must discuss the problems openly. In this regard CBSE has been very open and a link has been created on their website where all stakeholders are free to send their views. But again, not many people have come forward to do the same. Now the onus lies on CBSE to take the task of assessing the impact of the implementation of CCE pattern and make necessary amendments wherever necessary. My personal views are in favour of CCE but with some improvement as per the requirement of our society and the available resources. Stress should not be considered negative always but be changed into positive to make the children learn more which is retained by them for long and not forgotten after the test/examination is over. I think this is the right time to assess and do the required amendments. Let us focus on good things of CCE and try to reduce the negatives and that can be done only when we are sure of the factual and practical issues regarding this.