Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
The gradual reduction of importance of the class 12th board exams, the tendency to seek private tuition’s in order to appear for an entrance test and the level of stress an 18 year old IIT aspirant faces is incomparable. If it is supposed to be a part of life, the entire examination system definitely calls for a change- a change that is capable of dealing with the flaws in the existing system. Owing to the same,our Human Resource Development Minister introduced the Common Entrance Exam (CET) which is to be implemented from 2013 onwards.
There has been varying degree of dissidence amongst the IITs and the ministry regarding the same, with the main argument being that it will dilute the quality of students being admitted and further dilute the brand name IIT (which may be an exclusive stamp, but it is seen that an engineering student, usually does not continue with the same profession, either opting for an MBA or some job which is not even remotely associated with being an ‘IITian’)
IIT Madras and Guwahati have backed the government with the orders. However, IIT Kharagpur and Kanpur have refused to sing the same song, as the cords don’t seem to strike and the melody so produced has turned into a noise which sounds absurd to the ears. This can be deduced in light of the public announcement made by IIT Kanpur to boycott the new system.
On the one hand, the coaching institutes are reluctant for it will lower the growth rate, or maybe they’ll experience what recession feels like. Then the control of the state government will go away and so will the funds.
However, the arguments against the new proposed system are stronger. It will not just lower the quality of students who are already deprived of imagination due to the verbatim learning habits inculcated at school level, but the quality of IIT will also fall down drastically. Inclusion of board exams is possible only when all state boards are the same because different boards mark differently. It may be easy to secure a 98% in CBSE (now) but is rare in a state board, say in Bihar or West Bengal.
Another question that is constantly being raised and needs attention is : Will this stop the coaching system that has established a strong foothold everywhere? If coaching is the main problem, then why only target the engineering coaching classes? Institutes providing medical coaching are equally looting the kids and making money, thus, commercializing education. Almost every student opts for tuition’s outside school irrespective of whether he/she is a science student or not. Will the measure so taken be able to counter the trap created by private tuition’s or will it go on to increase the pressure on students to secure a 99- 100 percent in the board exams? Also, will it not make the teacher at school partial while marking the students in internal assessments, thus, raising question on the ethical standards of the school?
Also, introducing the CET will not reduce the stress, as there are many other exams a student has to appear for, which include examinations for private institutions. As a matter of fact, one nation one exam is more of myth, an illusion where 1+ 1+x = 1+x , where x is countless. Also, both the IIT and AIEEE exams have different target groups. Students appearing for IIT are 5 lakh in number and those appearing for AIEEE are 12 lakh. Those 7 lakh students will be deliberately forced to give an exam which they do not wish to appear for. Will this not increase stress?
We also need to bring back the attention of the students to the 12th examination by laying emphasis upon CBSE. It is important to note that no examination imposed upon the students will attract them to school unless and until the quality of teaching is raised. The teacher needs to be passionate about his/her work so that the student derives inspiration to be passionate about the subject. However in India, due to the lack of infrastructure, poor environment for teaching and learning and lack of space for innovation, the secondary education scenario is miserable.
No one would deny that IIT is known for its extremely high standards and the schools, especially government schools, where a majority of students go to attain education, are nowhere in comparison. The system of one nation, one exam so introduced only implies that the two should meet. This can be done either by reducing the standards of IIT or increasing standards of secondary education. There is hardly any attempt or proposal made to increase the standards of education at school level, therefore, the only option that remains is to lower the standard of the IITs.
I do not mean to say that the current system does not require a change, it does, definitely. But the system so introduced should be better and not worse.
Also, marks cannot sufficiently judge the qualities and capabilities of a student, however, the system should be efficient enough to give space to the child to grow and boost a system of learning that promotes innovative thinking, allowing him/ her to go beyond boundaries.