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the question paper

the question paper

at last, somebody has picked up courage to say it. all praise for director of general education, kerala. the liberal marks given by the kerala board enabled students from the state to hog the admission to delhi colleges which was based on percentage of marks in twelfth class examination.98+ became the minimum percentage for admission. as soon as the delhi university introduced a common test, the percentage of students from kerala dropped substantially. it was a proof, if one was needed, what was going wrong.

the minister for education of kerala has stated that it is not the government stand. obviously, the remarks are not pleasant prospective for student unions or the teachers' unions. the latter will rue their good-looking career if the percentage drops. students may have to work hard to get credible marks if there is a change in policy.

i recall that when i was chairman of board of secondary education, the results were announced in a press conference. at that time strike of the employees was going on with a view to coerce administration to accede to their demands and it was necessary to assure the students and the public that coercion will not be allowed to succeed. therefore, press conference was necessary. a question was asked whether the board is a passing board or a failing board referring to low percentage of success. i explained that board was neither passing board nor failing board. it was examining board. we examine the answer sheets and award marks based on answers.

unfortunately, many boards have abandoned the position and there is a competition for increasing the pass percentage amongst the boards, including the central board of secondary education. it is with pride (unjustified) that the pass percentage has improved over the last year as if it is an accomplishment of the board (and not that of students or the teachers). the official policy of cbse states that 40 percent of questions in the examination paper should be so easy that anyone who has attended the classes (and not slept through the class) should be able to answer. forty percent of questions should be a little more difficult to enable an average student to get them. Twenty percent can be test of understanding (or remembering) the answer.

but is this policy paying any dividends? yes, if we are satisfied with figures (known as statistics which are ranked below lies and white lies) but not if we are concerned about knowledge. we are only creating unemployable citizens. private coaching is a must for a variety of reasons but chief reason is the desire to acquire ability to clear the trials which life offers. no doubt the coaching institutes are thriving as they seek to upgrade the knowledge to enable students to clear the competitive examinations.

a reversal of the policy is difficult as kerala shows but tightening the screw bit by bit may be a more practical way so long as the chairmen can give up their ego to give up the mentality which necessitates statements like "meri kameez tumhari kameez se zyada sfaid hai". (my shirt is whiter than yours)


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