Dear Honourable Minister for HRD
I heard your lectures many times in Delhi when you addressed the august gathering in National Defence College during the mid nineties. At the time I felt that you are a knowledgeable lawyer and during the tea-time talk I felt that you are a man of convictions too!
Well I do hope that the fiery lawyer in you is still alive to defend your stance and the man of convictions is still walking ahead.
Let BJP say Harbari mein garbari or pessimists reject this as centralisation of education, Mr Minister I do hope that you will not get deterred by these reactions from non –starters.
Your proposals as HRD minister to make
Grade X exam optional in CBSE schools, Grades to replace marks , if possible from next year itself
And your long term goals of
Prevention of educational malpractices
An autonomous body to give accreditation to educational institutions, sounds good and feasible too!
As the Principal of a CBSE School I welcome your progressive measures in education as I can foresee many benefits in these few reforms.
Particularly the proposal to ‘No Board Exams in X’, I would like to talk about today. I shall share with you my opinions on your other proposals too each succeeding day.
At a time when the child is growing into a teenager and struggling to find his own identity, the pressures of exams don’t allow him to meet with himself. All he is told is that your identity is dependent on your percentage in the exam. Obviously he does it with a need to get attention from his society and not for assimilating the basic knowledge of science, math or social studies.
Of course the societal factors make it more meaningless by attaching more importance to gaining percentage through memorizing than understanding. So the purpose of sending a 15 year old out of the school with basic knowledge is not achieved.
All we send out is a child with under-baked knowledge and little applications skills.
Most of the adolescent problems of this age have no time for redressal either from the schools or home because they are considered insignificant in comparison to percentages. This results in coaching a frustrated teenager into a marks gaining machine.
Another problem I see is fear of math or science or for that matter social studies in some students. They have no choice but to like them and learn them well so that their overall percentage in the boards will fetch them a free seat or a concessional seat in an intermediate college or +2 school.
If the student is opting to pursue commerce or science without biology in + 2 program, why should he be penalised for not doing well in the same biology in Class X exam?
The purpose of a learning program up to Grade X is to provide basic knowledge of all subjects. The students are expected to find their own interest in some of these subjects according to their abilities and pursue them in +2 level. The purpose of a good learning program is served when the student opts to do the subject extensively in his + 2 program. By the age of 16, he is a little comfortable with himself and the world around him and he is ready to meet the challenges of academic rigor.
(Sadly neither psychology nor emotional dynamics are greatly considered in our country. I wonder why we have turned into such materialistic human beings with such illustrious spiritual wealth.)
Unfortunately we in India have compartmentalised it so much between arts, commerce or science that a students cannot opt for different combinations. Moreover someone who opts for Humanities or Commerce is looked down upon and the students of Science are the golden geese!
Well these golden geese are no scientists for sure but machines of memorising certain isolated facts because there is no time to learn the application part of it.
I as the Principal would feel glad to justify the basic learning program of school and ignite their imagination and instil scientific temper if I don’t have the target as Board exams. Although I have no major complaints with the existing system also as I have found my own ways of making it meaningful for my students.
Mr Minister , I wish you will have time to read what I do to justify the existing system.
As the Principal of a CBSE school with the first batch of class 10 (Class of 2009) having done very well in their boards I am sailing in that boat ecstasy . I am ecstatic because I have not pressurized my students nor have I allowed the teachers to give exam anxiety to students. Consciously and collectively we in the school woke them up to the idea that whatever they do or don’t do, will affect them.
In their orientation to Class X, the only caution we gave was on proving their academic excellence of nearly 11 months course in 3 hrs time that too they will be corrected by a stranger and not a teacher who loves them for their + or – points.
One or two months later I got to know that they were feeling the pressure of being the first Board batch of the school and they have to create a record. I dispelled the fears and demystified their anxiety. I had to re assure them saying that the school does not believe in taking glory out of their results and the school’s image certainly does not most certainly depend on their performance.
We carved our own image in the community and we have no need to depend on our students’ board results for our existence.
I made sure that I repeated this in assemblies and PTMs so that parents, students and teachers get the message clearly.
That has reduced the first stress point from the school or teachers.
We counselled the parents with some success which countered the second stress point.
And finally the students were explained in many terms, that what they are doing is measuring their own learning abilities in an exam, whether school exam or a board exam. The word Board is consciously not used.
Its just another exam they will write and the only difference is that they will be writing it in another school and a stranger (but a teacher) will be correcting them..
We largely depend on their conscience and wake them up to a self-assessor’s role and we make them say that ‘ you are writing an exam to know how much you know’.
With all this we managed to replace the word competition with excellence. I believe that there is a need in everyone to excel and that need has to be nurtured .Excellence is for personal satisfaction and competition is for public approval.
For a student who is groomed with the need to excel in everything he does, whether sports or academics there is no stress factor but a pleasure factor.
I neither gave printed notes to them nor have I grilled them through extra classes. All we managed to do is, excite their imagination and create a need for excellence. And I am proud of my students who are enjoying the fruits of their excellence.
I sign off for today Mr Minister, but be rest assured that I shall keep giving you my feedback on all your measures .
Wishing you all the best in your progressive endeavours
A Leadership School
Of course there are many pessimists who can say’ easier said than done’
But the optimist in me always says...’It is easy to say and easy to do too’
All I want to work on is
Counsel: Parents who face more peer pressure than students
Well inform: Ill- informed parents
Change: Indian psychology of overplaying everything
Redefine : Education as the refinement of an individual and certainly not the ability to reproduce in exams.
Reduce the influence of : Publicity campaigns of (so called) educational institutions that rave about percentages on gullible parents
Enlighten parents on: Aggressive campaigns about the importance of percentages by vested groups
Reduce: Unnecessary hype on the word percentages resulting in stress on students.
also I understand certain words in a different light.
Rat race... rat race is for rats..not for conscientious people who are empowered by their own self-worth.
Competition.. is for reproducing the mugged up facts and public approval.
Percentage: quantitative measurement of performance in exams..not qualitative proof of one's knowledge.