Class 10th, 12th Board Exams Should Be Permanently Stopped? Here’s An Interesting Opinion…

Rishikesh B.S. has made a call for Indians to rethink the importance of board exams.

High school students across the country now know that Class 10 board exams have been scrapped this year and Class 12 exams have been postponed. 

CBSE made the announcements following several state boards. 

The news was received well by concerned parents, students and school staff who have hailed it as the right decision, given a pandemic that has made a deadly resurgence.

Rishikesh B.S. is an associate professor at Azim Premji University in the School of Education. He has made a call for Indians to rethink the importance of board exams.

Questions To Ponder

If one questions the purpose of board exams, the answer that echoes far and wide is that it assesses the core competencies of a student at the end of their school life. 

What are the skills that they have acquired that they can build upon when they enter college?

Is a 60 or 90 minute board exam the single event that differentiates the successful students from the others?

Is there really any significant consequences if a student does not participate in board exams that are now either cancelled or postponed anyway?

Are Board Exams Really The Answer?

Indian school life comprises exams in regular intervals throughout the school year. Be it practical exams, oral or written tests, projects, assignments, etc, a student is constantly tested on their capabilities. 

There is no gap here that really needs to be filled which board exams are apparently doing. 

As many progressive schools are doing, a child’s portfolio over a period of the last few school years based on their performance in the aforementioned activities can be compiled. 

Based on that, they can be given the school leaving certificate which is just as well earned as it would have been in the case of board exam results. 

The State Of Indian Education

Professor Rishikesh, who is also the leader of the Hub for Education, Law & Policy at his university, is of the view that the Indian education system is already going down the drain. 

An absence of board exams cannot do more damage than the pervasive “exam culture” has already dealt. 

The obsession with exams is in no way a holistic or appropriate measure of judging students and building their strengths. 

Historical Studies And Reports On Indian Schooling 

For perspective, the harms of a schooling system centered around exams were studied all the way back in 1938 by the Zakir Husain committee report on Basic National Education.

The report said that the abysmal condition of education in India worsened when exams were placed on a pedestal well beyond its actual utility. 

Lord Curzon, then-Viceroy during the British Raj, noted in the Education Policy of 1904 that examinations had burgeoned to extravagant proportions. 

It was now dominating the entire education system in India and as a result pedagogy was limited to the rigid framework of prescribed courses. 

Any form of training that did not subscribe to the framework of written tests were at risk of being ignored. 

The very concept of tests and its presence in the core of Indian education was against ancient teaching practices.

The report also contained an entire section titled ‘The abuse of examinations’. 

Urgent Need For An Overhaul

It’s a telling sign that despite several such historical precedents and warnings against overdependence on exams, the status quo persists. 

The present system desperately needs renovation in order to accommodate those that lack socio-economic privileges, a section of people that the present system excludes.

The time and resources required to prepare for the stressful national exercise is not something every family can afford. 

The result a student acquires is not reflective of their abilities to contribute to nation building or possess independent thought- qualities that are essential as we forge through an uncertain modern century. 

The lack of initiative to turn things around on the part of both parents and schools ensure that the obsession with exams will not change any time soon. 

The Right Time Is Now

Permanent elimination of board exams is one step to do away with the current practice of teaching for test preparation. 

With the pandemic forced developments, it would be easier for us to move into a future that does away with the need for these tests. 

National Education Policy 2020 should also encourage developments in this favor.

There are encouraging signs given recent law making attempts at introducing educational reforms. 

Some examples are the National Curriculum Framework 2005, Right to Education Bill and Right to Education Act 2009.

CBSE had also made Class 10 board exams optional almost a decade ago, but most opted to write it anyways. 

Due to the few takers, the option was removed and Class 10 board exams were once again reinstated.

Suitable Alternatives

National Education Policy 2020 draft has suggested a credit-based system for secondary schools and beyond which could replace the annual board exams. 

The National Testing Agency established by the Ministry of Education could step in and conduct periodical assessments throughout the year or on demand. 

Through these, students could obtain credits which they could use for a school leaving certificate- a different means to an end the theatrics of board exams is ultimately centred around. 

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