Search Top Colleges Here

Custom Search

October 20, 2009

Entry to IITs will be tougher?

A Step Backward

So entry into the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will be ‘‘tougher’’ from the 2011 academic session because students will have to secure anything between 80 per cent and 85 per cent marks — to be fixed by the IITs in their final decision — in Class XII board examinations to qualify to take the IIT joint entrance examination (JEE). The criterion as of now is only 60 per cent in Class XII board examinations that Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal says ‘‘is not acceptable’’. On Monday, Sibal justified the proposed shift on the ground that the new JEE system had not worked well. This cannot be true. Sibal has perhaps forgotten the fact that board examinations in this country are neither valid nor reliable, a point that this column has had occasion in the past to drive home in many of its comments on the state of education in the country. A correlation between Class XII board examination result and IIT-JEE ranking is simply preposterous — they are two different things. The argument could possibly be that students aiming for an IIT berth tend to ignore Class XII board examinations, but the blunt question, obviously, is: So what? Suppose a student secures as high as 95 per cent in Class XII board examination but has not prepared for the IIT-JEE differently, believing that his extensive preparation for the board examination alone will enable him to crack the IIT entrance. Will, in general (unless he is a genius who need not be groomed differently), he succeed? Very unlikely. And what does the board examination test? His analytical ability, innovation, creativity, mastery over subjects? Nothing as such. The board examination is very often a mere ritual. And this is also one of the main reasons, though unsaid, why the Class X board examination under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has been made optional, thanks to the prudence in that case. However, when it comes to marks in Class XII board examinations conducted by the CBSE and State boards in relation to eligibility to take the IIT-JEE, Sibal’s is a huge step backward. It would be another matter if the examinations were both valid and reliable or a real test of merit.

The crux of the matter is that you can make the entry into the IITs ‘‘tougher’’ — in the true sense of the term — only by making the JEE tougher, not by forcing IIT aspirants to prove themselves well in a cumbrous ritual called board examination. The decision to take such examinations seriously should be left to the student alone when he has made up his mind to crack the IIT-JEE and is preparing accordingly, which means vastly differently from how he would be preparing to secure, say, as high as 95 per cent in the board examination. Is not the IIT-JEE a far better and very different test of a student’s depth, concept and aptitude as compared to any of the Class XII board examinations in the country? Sibal would do well to concentrate on what the proposed five-member committee under Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), to suggest a roadmap for the IITs for the next 10 years would recommend, and not make an issue out of trivialities such as the Class XII examination regime in its present ritualistic form. Let the student have a choice in things silly unless there is a paradigmatic shift in the entire system of teaching and learning. THE SENTINEL

No comments: