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July 26, 2009

Whither class X board examination?

— Dr P R Das If education is manifestation of all round perfection of mankind – education starts at home under parents. It passes through different stages as the child grows. After home it is the primary education that picks up children from mother’s lap. Primary education is for moulding the mind of the child in an atmosphere of love and care. There should not be any place of chastisement as it was in old days. These days even parents have little choice of chastisements as these are dealt with as offences and punished by law. A child is also amenable to reason. A child needs attention and education. But both education at home and in primary schools are also alike perhaps with only difference of more discipline and systematic approach.

The real education starts at the secondary level. The students get in systematic study within the perimeter of a prescribed syllabus with different modules for learning. At this stage the teachers have more responsibilities. They need to educate the students according to syllabi, need to help develop his mind and body and make him fit for the challenges of higher education. In may be said that the secondary education is the base for higher education. This secondary education ends up with the examination in class X. Thus the examination in class X has immense importance.

This examination is not only the entry stamp for higher education but it has many facets. In a developing country like India the students community consist of more than 50 per cent in this category. This secondary education is on the one side free of cost and on the other a prime necessity for any job to apply for. In India nobody can apply for any job without pass certificate of class X except some grade IV jobs. The lower middle class people in India are dependent on class X examination and the pass certificate thereof for their livelihood.

An examination carries its worth on different footing. The class X examination is a necessity both to the students who aspire the higher educations in different disciplines as it gives him an assessment of his own credentials and merit with confidence to go ahead and also others who aspire job for livelihood. Higher education in India including the streams in Engineering and Medical have become all the more expensive even though the capabilities of the parents have also increased. But the bulk of students of the lower middle class families take class X examination as a means of employment. The parents may not afford further education and students may not qualify in those entrances of higher educations. So for all these students class X examination is a boon to step in for job. By the time the class X examination is held a child becomes more or less qualified in age also for the job. Before any move regarding withdrawal of class X examination proper thought should be given on its socio-economic consequences. In case of abolition of this examination nobody around the age of 18 years can look for any job since jobs are provided on the basis of some qualifying certificate. This may cause disillusion of education at secondary level among the common people who are unable to undertake costly higher education for their wards. The students of ordinary calibre may also like to stay away from this education. Apart from these without this examination the teachers may be pursuing the courses without any target and any pursuit without target may not generate interest and perseverance among both teachers and the taught.

Of course, some students and teachers who are tired of this age old system may think this revolutionary change could be interesting and worth attempting. Some in this group may opt for schools to conduct aptitude test to allot streams to students after class X. This will not be uniform in standard and will be more subjective in nature leaving scope for unfair and fettered discretion of the authorities. Others of this group may argue this examination as a burden to students, teachers and parents for arranging private coaching. This attitude may be considered as elusive which cannot be attributed to students for educations, teachers for an ideal profession and parents for all ideal parenthood. They also may blame that the extra-curricular activities of the students take back seat. This is also not correct. A day has 24 hours and how best use can be made of it depends upon individual capability.

To make the class X examination optional is still worse. The young student will be kept in dilemma- “to be or not to be”. Not only the students, teachers, parents and all concerned will be confused what is better and what is to be opted. What is important is the uniformity in educational system. Even though education is a State subject yet the recent 86th Amendment Act, 2002 has made provision for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. Children attain the age of maturity at 18 years. So if there is no qualifying examination till the age of 18 years children are bereft of any job. Uniformity in the standard of education is the call of the day. It has been found that different States have different yardsticks. Some are very liberal giving high marks to procure more jobs while others are conservative giving marks miserly for maintaining so called standards. This causes deprivation and discrimination in employment. This lack of uniformity in the system also attracts the right of equality as provided in Article14 and 16.

It will be appreciated if there is a single board at the Centre replacing all State boards across the country to bring in uniformity in standard in class X for fair assessment and equal opportunity for all in both jobs and higher educations. Even in that case if the system could function efficiently the individual system of taking on entrance examination may be dispensed with. But introduction of single board one each for class X examination and class XII examination need the consensus of all States and all concerned to defeat the degrees of unfair means and to generate national spirit and integrity.

It may be said that there is no harm in following the same syllabus across the country and in compilation of syllabus different boards can put up their view points and local needs which can be considered prudently by the authority.

However in syllabi of class X or class XII there shall be a place for mother tongue as MIL for convenience and sentiment. MIL can be optional and regional. Again, to get relieved of stress or to reduce the stress of the students the idea of dismissing class X examination does not appear to be prudent. Stress has to be borne and will come into play in class XII in place of class X when the latter is done away with. Grading system as in USA and other countries even in some cases in India does not bring in any beneficial change in evaluation. Rather it may be said that the ‘marking’ is more accurate and less collective and vague. After all, nothing should be done in hurry without proper research and study since it concerns the future of human resource in a country. The National Commission for Higher Education and Research may also arrive at consensus on their findings taking all States and all groups of people in confidence.
(The writer is Inspector General of Police, Assam). SOURCE: ASSAM TRIBUNE

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