In yet another move that will impact lakhs of Class X students, the Central government, on advice from various states, is likely to make the Class X Board examination system mandatory for all students which was made ‘optional’ six years back. This will come into effect from 2018.
The HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in his first major policy announcement after taking over office is likely to announce this on 25 October, post the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting, which advises the central and state governments on education policy matters for school children.
So is this a good or bad idea for students likely to sit for the exams in 2018?
Here’s why the Class X Board examination was made optional in the first place
Governments often take policy decisions that are not properly evaluated for its long term impact and in this case, the policy affected lakhs of children. What seemed a great idea then has not been well received at the central and state level; since most state education ministers who sit on the CABE have voiced their reservations on the ‘option’ provided to class X students to either take the CBSE exam or sit for the internal examination conducted by their respective schools.
Apparently, both parents and teachers have been objecting to this ‘option’ being given to students, as students have been approaching the annual exams less seriously since examination papers set by the schools tended to be easier than those set by CBSE.
The principal reason behind this is the fact that schools would like to see maximum students pass and show higher marks. The result was an overall lowering of academic standards. Therefore, both teachers and parents have been voicing their concerns at the state levels. The HRD Minister, too, seems to be in favour of re-introducing the class X Board examination system.
‘No-detention’ policy, too, may be reviewed
Another major decision likely to be taken at the CABE meeting on 25 October is with regard to the existing ‘no-detention’ policy for all students upto class VIII. Under this policy, no student, howsoever weak, was to be detained on account of poor academic performance in exams.
The thinking behind this was that students who were weak in academics should not be discriminated against, as ‘failing’ in class put the student under psychological trauma and humiliation and this had a long-lasting negative impact on the said student.
Teachers have been raising their concern over this policy, as promoting every student irrespective of their academic level meant that students who worked harder were put on par with students that had less inclination, interest and aptitude for academics. This also resulted in students treating the teacher will less respect.
While several states are in favour of re-introducing the ‘detention’ system for all classes, the HRD Ministry still seems open on this and will try and work out a compromise formula. Though no final decision has been taken as yet, it may see the ‘option’ to detain students between class V and VIII to be left to respective states, subject to the students who fail in certain subjects being allowed to sit for a re-test.
Unlike the decision for re-introducing board exams, the decision to do change the ‘no-detention’ policy will require a legislative amendment under section 16 of the Right to Education Act and therefore, make take some time before a change can be introduced. But first, Prakash Javadekar will have to get consensus on this from all stakeholder states and that’s not going to be easy given diverse opinions on the subject.
Final decision on 25 October
Come 2018, Class X students sitting for board exams should start gearing up for the added pressure. While it may seem challenging for some students and parents, the exams themselves should help assess the students’ interest and aptitude for higher academics.
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