Millennium Post

Review ‘no exam’ policy in schools

A parliamentary panel has rightly expressed concern about the provision of automatic promotion till class VIII under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, asking the ministry of human resources to ‘rethink’ the policy as students may not be motivated to work hard if promotion is guaranteed. The spirit behind the decision to do away with examinations at the early stage of schooling was to help students who are often under tremendous pressure to perform. Examinations take away from the joy of learning, besides emphasising rote memorisation at the cost of real learning and not do not allow for the all round development of the students. The policy planners who decided to do away with the examination to lift the burden from students and to do away with the stigma of failure at an early age probably had in mind dedicated teachers who would make learning a pleasant experience, with children imbibing basic knowledge in an atmosphere free of competitive pressures. The reality in India is far different. The majority of schools have poorly trained and badly paid teachers who are not motivated to teach and, besides, lack proper facilities and infrastructure.  Most students come from such socio-economic backgrounds as do not emphasise learning and hardly encourage going to school.

The provision of automatic promotions has meant that students take school even more casually and are ever ready to play truant. Many parents and teachers have felt that students just do not take their studies seriously in the absence of examinations and find themselves ill-equipped and unprepared for the higher classes. In such a scenario it is not at all surprising that the parliamentary standing committee has noted that academic standards fall under the new system. Though under the RTE regime, there is meant to be a constant evaluation of the students other than examinations, there are hardly any effective assessment process in place in most schools.  Recent studies all show a decline in the in the learning outcomes of young students, particularly in those from government schools. This does imply that the policy of automatic promotions needs to be reviewed. Yet this does not mean that examinations should be reintroduced with all their attendant terrors as the rationale behind the doing away of examinations still stands. A middle way should be found without placing too much of a burden on young children.
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