Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tenth std. Board Exams to go away? Will pigs fly?

As the father of a boy who just got done with his 10th std. board exams, I cannot but jump for joy upon hearing that the government may scrap 10th standard board exams. I couldn't believe my eyes, but the link came up just above my Gmail messages and I had to go check it out immediately. If this actually happens, I am ready to forgive Kapil Sibal -- a person I don't particularly like -- for all of his real and imagined trespasses. This will be the single most important and radical transformation in the Indian school system in a long time.

I don't particularly care for the current system of education, view board exams with deep distaste, and am absolutely furious with the deranged idiots that inflicted two sets of board exams in quick succession - the 10th and the 12th - on a hapless Indian youth population. I would happily apply just about every vile term in every language every spoken, used to describe people one doesn't like, to the people -- nay, misanthropic cretins -- that created the current system. From the Indian Express article,
“I am thinking of relooking at the necessity of having a Board examination for Class 10,” he said. “A child moves up from Class 9 to Class 10 in the same school and there is no reason for either the student or the parents to get traumatised by the 10th Board exam,” he said. As a first step, the HRD Ministry will consult state governments and state education boards, Sibal said. “I hope to move forward very soon and set up an alternative system of evaluation of students that is based on percentiles rather than percentages.”
Yessss! Kapil -- or is it Mr. Sibal, Esq. or some such silly thing? -- I am prepared to launch a movement to name a holiday in your honor if you push this through quickly. I wish you had done this last year before my son had to suffer it, but there are a lot of kids in the country who would gladly replace every picture and bust of Gandhiji with yours when this is over. This is a watershed moment in Indian history. Finally, it appears, we are ready to hang up the ghost of the British Empire that has hung over us like a dark, threatening cloud for the past six decades. It is from the British that some of our India's great cargo-cult intellectuals learned to create two separate board examinations, separated by just two years. The British do it in the 11th and the 13th, but we decided to make it a total of 12 just to be in sync with the rest of the world. We ended up with a grotesque monster that has driven numerous Indian children to suicide, with the so-called 'intellectuals' looking on with smug expressions on their faces from their lofty perches.

I don't know if the percentile system of evaluation is going to be superior means of evalution. I think we need a clean break and construct a radically different means of promoting learning and building productive citizens. But we have to start somewhere, and getting rid of some of the detritus from our foolish socialistic past will do us a lot of good.

So, Ave, Kapil Sibal, all hail thee!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comment, Murli. Something else caught my attention around this one. So there is a large formal/informal tuition/coaching business, right? This market took a sudden plunge this year because parents took the option of not sending their 10th standard wards to a coaching centre. Makes me think about what parents implicitly believe about the coaching sector - that it will, in general, improve performance. There are other considerations in normal course like peer influence, inability of parents to discipline and/or coach, percieved (or real) incapacity of the school system to drive performance, someone to blame instead of your self for your child's education etc.; but with the downturn in Class X tuition enrolments the performance enhancement factor seems to be the most important driver.