U.P Madhyamic Shiksha Parishad

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Every Policy Change Must Reduce Load on the Student

Date : February

Posted By : Vineeta

Once the examination date sheets of various school boards are announced, anxiety and stress engulf not only the examinees but also their parents. Kapil Sibal of UPA II had his own ideas to make life easier for the children. He abolished examinations up to Class VIII and made Class X board exams optional. Everyone was initially happy. He also introduced Continuous and Comprehensive Examination (CCE) instead of annual examinations. CCE is one reform that is pedagogically considered far better than the existing system of annual external examination. The Kothari Commission (1964-66) recommended ‘continuous internal evaluation’, which can be put to practice only if conducted by trained teachers dealing with ‘manageable teacher-taught ratios’. The existing conditions in government schools are shockingly inadequate for regular evaluation.

A compliant CBSE, however, trained school principals for a day and introduced CCE, while the government schools, perennially short of teachers, were in no position to bring it in practice. Learner attainments became the responsibility of the learner alone. The worst sufferers are children from weaker sections with little family support for learning augmentation. On record, it is CCE across the board in the school education system. In private schools, with appropriate teacher-taught ratios, CCE is being implemented as instructed. Project preparation, a major component in CCE, instead of developing skills in critical thinking has led to copying from the Internet or—as an additional task for parents—purchasing a ready-made project from the market. New dimensions of stress have emerged, however. Weekly test on Monday means total loss of the holiday experience on Sunday, no visits, no outings. Researches in future would prove how this provision has adversely impacted family ties and wholesome growth of a child. Introduction of the grading system did bring some relief but that is confined to schools having teachers who understand the real difference between marks and grades, and are skilled enough to convey it to the parents. Such schools have an added responsibility of educating the parents. The loss of credibility of government schools has enhanced parental anxiety, which creates pressure on the learners. Parental pressure, particularly the assertion of ‘what I could not achieve, you must’, causes stress on learners. Similar is the case of parents who would like their ward to score more than the neighbour’s child.

Call it by any name, or conduct it in any manner, comparisons and competitions are two challenges that are to be faced by every child in his adult life. Examinations, conducted in an empathetic environment and through pedagogically sound procedures, could identify the areas that require additional remedial inputs. But that rarely happens. The damage that examinations could inflict upon the learner is best articulated in words of Einstein: “One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for examinations, whether one likes it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problem distasteful to me for an entire year.” He was fortunate to get out of the dampening impact in a year. This must be a rare case of a genius, not many, once thrown in the despair, are lucky to shake it off. How many of children study what they find ‘tasteful and interesting’?

Education policies and curriculum require regular changes and every change must result in load reduction. Some stress is bound to be there, but the levels can certainly be reduced. Evaluation procedures are supposed to encourage the child to move ahead in the area of his interest. That requires professionally equipped teachers and parental awareness of their responsibility. It is an encouraging sign that there is some rethinking on the issue of CCE or annual examination.  






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