The recent decision by HRD minister Prakash Javadekar to reintroduce Class X board exams from the 2017-18 sessions in all CBSE-affiliated schools is a move in the right direction. But it must be remembered that the decision to do away with the board exam was taken after a spate of suicides by students who were unhappy about their performance in the said exams and were unable to bear the stress arising out of it. Removing the requirement of a board exam at the class X level was a step taken to lessen the burden and ease the pressure on young students.
Class X board exam has served the dual purpose of a qualifying examination to decide a suitable stream of education and also a good benchmark to assess students’ level of learning and knowledge. As such, a good performance in the board exam has been a prime motivator for young students. This exam has a great role in ensuring discipline amongst the students and is a standardised yardstick for evaluating students in schools across the country.
The discontinuation of the class X board has made the movement to a higher class a mere perfunctory process. Since 2010, when this exam was discontinued, it has been found that a certain level of lackadaisical attitude had crept into the minds of students. Such an attitude had a detrimental effect on students when they faced the crucial class XII board examinations a couple of years later. The discontinuation of class X board may also be attributed to the declining competitive spirit amongst students, as they are moved from one class to the next almost as a routine procedure reminiscent of an automated production line in a factory. This at a time when students need to be at their competitive best, so that they can excel in their chosen field later in life, can be a huge blow to a student’s future.
While there will be many arguments and valid ones at that, favouring the discontinuation of the examination and any other form of classification of students up to a certain age, like it happens in developed countries such as Finland. But it must be remembered that the ground realities in the two countries are vastly different and so is the outcome expected out of their respective education systems. Our country’s current educational system calls for a systematic assessment and examinations to gauge the educational standards. So unless and until we develop a replacement system that caters to both sides of the argument, periodic and systematic assessments must continue to serve our educational goals and requirements adequately.
The current government has taken several initiatives in its effort to raise the academic standards of the country. The government had rightfully described ‘education, skills and job creation’ as one of the ‘nine pillars’ that will transform the country. The decision to reintroduce board examinations at the class X level in CBSE schools will help reignite the spirit of competitiveness and usher in much-needed rigour while helping students mentally gear up for bigger challenges ahead like the class XII board exams and beyond.
Monica Malhotra Kandhari
The author is managing director, MBD Group