Millennium Post

Igniting Minds

Archit Gupta, aged 15, has his eyes set on becoming an investment banker in the future. His sister is a Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) graduate who secured 95 per cent in her class XII Board examination yet she could not make it in the first cut off list and got through only in the second one. 

In a recent interaction at the same college when Google Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai was asked about his percentage in class XII Board examination, he said that his marks were not enough to get him into SRCC. The comment may have been made in humour but many students would have felt some seriousness in the statement.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has finally announced the dates for the Board examination for class X and class XII students and Archit, among several others, will be sitting for his class X Board examination this year. His examination pattern however will be school based under scheme-1 in which the evaluation will be done within the school and he would be graded for it. This will be part of summative assessment however Archit will also be graded for his formative assessments which will contain his school projects and other skilled activities done during the year. 

Archit is confident of getting good grades however when asked that in the coming years does he fear that his marks will play a much important role towards his choices, Archit promptly replied: “Not really but yes occasionally I do think about it. I am advised that passion and excellence will never be stopped by marks.”

Archit may have made his point but various senior academicians feel that the excellence and quality among students till class X is compromised and this affects them in class XI and class XII. Manjula Garg, a private school teacher says: “I believe the situation has gone worse after the Right to Education  2009 act came in. Students are not taking their education seriously and feel they can get away with it easily.”

The Principal of one of Kendriya Vidalaya in Delhi says: “There must be a revival of old system because I still believe that our system of higher education is lacking resources and it is all based upon competitive examinations and marks. Sooner or later the students will have to get adjusted to it.” 

Rumi Banerjee, a school teacher, however provides a counter point by saying: “The continuous comprehensive evaluation has been very helpful in reducing stress among students.Rather that rote learning they feel their skills and other talents which otherwise were not highlighted are now visible.” When asked if students who are graded get demotivate when compared to high scoring students, she said: “No, I do not think so. In fact, I believe that students who have less financial resources and often feel left out are able to develop themselves fully.”

Banerjee added that the concern for future is clearly visible among students as even though school based system exists many still opt for board based just to prepare themselves for other main examinations in future.

Reacting strongly on the issue one of the teacher at Delhi University said: “The fact that there is a debate like this highlights how flawed our education system is and somewhere even my college and university is to blamed for such crisis. Why blame the students for lack of quality, why not blame the teachers who do not want to take the accountability. Today when you see suicides in Kota, you get to know how bad the situation is. Many students and families have risked their entire life only to get into a prominent institute even if they know that they lack the aptitude and capability. 

India’s recent success in the start up space must make us realise that ultimately what matters is your passion and talent and not marks, degrees or the institution. As teachers it is our responsibility to discover and hone it but sadly in the garb of examinations and syllabus many of us are not fulfilling our duties sincerely.”

Even though the continuous comprehensive evaluation has been put to reduce pressure among the students, the problem is that high demand for specific streams also bring in the pressure among students to have a particular performance parametre for getting the preferred stream. Most of the students when asked for the preferences opted for sciences even though many of them do not want to make a career in it and confessed that they were looking for security. Even though various academicians point out challenges in comprehensive complete evaluation in terms of limited learning environment, inadequate and de-motivated teaching staff, lack of basic infrastructural facilities that has resulted in setting of skepticism of the process, many academicians also feel that that the system and design of CCE needs to be strengthened further with the support of students as well as their parents.

Most of the parents of the students of class X when asked about the present model spoke about their insecurities and expectations. One parent said: “I often encourage my child to not take pressure and pursue something which he is passionate about and develop his skills but considering the rat race which my child is getting into, the crunch in job market and the rising prices, as a middle class parent I worry about my child’s future and often wonder that does our child have a choice rather than proving him academically.” 

One parent however optimistically said: “I feel that this system is good, it helps in reducing pressure not only among students but also for parents. At a time when even government is trying to develop skills and vocational training, I as a parent would want my child to develop holistically than in a limited way.” Highlighting the importance of a knowledge society, the people’s president late A P J Abdul Kalam mentioned the relevance of three societal members – mother, father and a teacher for creation of beautiful minds and less than two months from now  when approximately 13 lakh students will be giving an important examination which will decide their future, the sayings of Kalam holds a relevance.

In 2002 Kalam released a book titled  Ignited Minds: Unleashing the power within where he mentioned the importance of dreams, questioning, creativity, nationalism and scientific temper.
Many may argue if the knowledge society of Kalam’s imagination been created in the true sense or not? Are learning parametres creating a spark of creativity in students and letting them pursue their dreams in an unrestricted manner? Has our society provided the ignited minds the way to unleash their power within? 

The search for a right answer may still be on. Think about it. 

"The continuous comprehensive evaluation has been very helpful in reducing stress among students.Rather that rote learning they feel their skills and other talents which otherwise were not highlighted are now visible- Rumi Banerjee, a school teacher.
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