Right now, I’m going to talk about only school education, elementary to secondary education and not about graduation. I’m an inquisitive kinda person, so during my schooling, I used to be one of the favorites of teachers. But I also felt a bit left out in music, dance, drawing etc activities. And I don’t feel bad about that as that’s who I am. I had an inclination towards Mathematics and Science ever since I can remember, thus, my career took a similar course.
But I also realise that nearly no two persons are born with the same level of intellect. The way others could just doodle and make such beautiful pictures, and even if I’d try hard to make a simple shape, I would do worse than a nursery-kid. (I’m not exaggerating. :P) So, the way I used to “get” some subjects, others couldn’t. I myself used to spend some hours teaching a thing or two, to some of my classmates. But the grading system, examination level, teaching techniques are the same for everyone.
Which results in what? Widespread discontentment, depression, and often suicides. I belong to the times when 10th grade exams, and 12th grade exams (together known as board exams) were believed to be the sole deciding factor of a person’s whole future. Yes, again I’m not exaggerating. But now, the government has brought about many reforms and I don’t quite see how it will improve the present state except for reduced suicides which I can conclude won’t be reduced actually but yes, “board exams” wouldn’t be held responsible for them. (My mother is a teacher, so I know mostly about 6th to 10th procedures and policies):
- No marks allotment till 10th class, only grades.
- No student can be failed till 8th class (in support of right to education).
- Till 10th, the topics covered are divided into two sections, and these constitute the syllabus of the two semesters of each class. So, the topics covered in first half of the academic session need not be studied again for the final exam of the second half of the academic session.
- Essentially, 60 marks out of 100 marks are according to the performance of the student in the “two” final exams, rest all is rubbish according to me,i.e., activities, projects, attendance and other stuffs account for the rest of the 40 marks.
Lets take it chunk by chunk, only grades and no marks, yeah, fine according to me. But I feel a holistic grade should also be given. and not just sectional grades in each subject. Next, no failed student till 8th class. Well, that’s kind of bold. Since these lower secondary years form the base for further education, if a student isn’t passing on his own, then it’ll be almost impossible for him to assimilate the studies of the next class, and so he is deemed to fail that class too (I mean, actually, not just on paper). So, this creates a additive effect and ignorance piles up. The situation is such that kids don’t know how to divide two integers to get a mixed fraction and are studying trigonometry and other relatively “heavy” stuff in 9th class. Does that make sense? I don’t think so. Also, this kills the fear in students to study. (Well, I don’t mean that students shall study only when it’s forced in them, but yeah, we are all humans, we work/study efficiently under pressure, more so for Indians.) In the absence of any pressure, only those who are very much aware and concerned about their life, future and career at an early stage will study. (And come on, why should a 10-12 year old kid worry about his job and career paths now? It’s only natural, he’ll just like to do what he’s told and what he enjoys doing. And not every kid enjoys reading literature or anything in their curriculum.)
Yes, I am an ardent believer in “Education for All”, but does just passing to the next class really mean “education”. I think some better policies should be adopted and more publicized to seduce the parents to send their kids, both male and female, to school and really motivate them to learn. This, I say, is just a cheap attempt to gain votes and public support.
Again, since these classes are the basis of further learning, I believe, subsequent and regular revision is the key to building the basics to the growing minds. I mean, my personal experience says, semester system helps in including more syllabus but it depreciates the actual learning and/or knowledge gain considerably. For example, the major chunk of students just study during exams. They vomit what they learned in their answer sheets, and after getting out of the examination hall, their memory gets formatted. Yes, that happens with non-semester systems too, but in that case there are mid examinations too, and the topics are repetitive in the final exam, as in, the topics covered in other term exams too, specially the important ones. With the current system, a student learns about profit and loss in the first half of the session, then soon forgets about (Reason: “no revision”). And next year, it’s not in the syllabus. Next to next year, he learns it again from scratch. What’s the point if a student can’t quite catch up or really learn some phenomenon or it’s essence, I fail to fathom.
And more importantly, the activities, quizzes, attendance and all that stuff. Firstly, wastage of time and resources. If a kid spends 3 hours on a 10 marks file, he could have been better off if he had learnt something new and useful, in fact if a student spends 3 hours on one topic, he can ace it. But no, such not-so-sensible things become students’ priority, and they also don’t concentrate in their normal class and rather just focus their attention on these things. Plus, since only the teacher is responsible for giving these marks, a factor of favoritism also comes into picture, and perhaps, the less deserving students get more marks. It might even increase corruption in schools. If a loaded parent asks a teacher to grade him better, the teacher can easily do it without any legal repercussions, as there wouldn’t be any written record, plus, you can’t question a teacher on her methods of grading in this case, whereas for conventional one, one can ask the teacher to produce an answersheet and thus, there is no chance of any false play here.
Also, this decreases the credibility of the marks/grades a person gets. You can’t quite judge a person with the marksheet now. So, what happens is: everyone is 12th pass, everyone is a graduate, but no employment, which results in what? Widespread discontentment, depression, and often suicides. Thus, I don’t think these reforms quite serve their very purpose. A country can’t educate its citizens with such myopic policies.