Exam reforms: careful study needed

THE editorial “De-stressing exams” (March 26) was timely. Even the best of examinations can only test a student’s judgement, his memory and powers of communication. It cannot adequately judge his creativity, sensitivity or his capacity for leadership. Yet these are qualities that a sound education is expected to promote and foster.

When we launch our programme of examination reforms, we should not expect examinations to accomplish what they were never intended to. Several ingenious people have suggested that open book tests should solve the problem of copying. But the suggestion is both puerile and pathetic.

To believe that a tool of assessment can lead to the right kind of assessment is faulty logic. Teachers and educationists feel that the traditional exam system should be replaced by new alternatives.

The Education Commission has suggested that in affiliating universities, there should be both internal assessment and external examinations, and that the marks secured in both, instead of being added up, should be recorded side by side in the final certificates. Passes should be required separately in both and the divisions should be declared separately. Every year, a careful review should be made of the correlation between internal and external assessment for each institution.

ANIL BHATIA, Dept of English, D.N. College, Hisar




The editorial rightly points out: “Unfortunately the stress still continues to be on memory, rather than comprehension, understanding and analysis.” Quite often, the paper-setters go beyond the prescribed syllabi in preparing question papers.

As pointed out recently, all the three series of the English question paper of the Matriculation examination conducted by the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education in March, this year, had numerous mistakes of spelling and grammar.

The examinees who had taken this paper deserve at least 10 grace marks. Such paper-setters should be debarred from setting question papers hereafter.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)


The copying menace in the examination is playing havoc with students who are at an impressionable and tender age. Our teachers are worthy of trust.

They can be assigned the task of issuing school certificates on the basis of class-tests and internal marking. There may be some problems at the initial stage, but it is bound to succeed sooner or later. It is time to scrap Lord Macaulay’s system of education.

JASWANT SINGH, Principal (retd), Chandigarh


Whenever examinations approach, collective paranoia grips the students. The cut-throat competition and the need to score high cut-off percentages force them to join coaching centres. Instead of emerging as confident and creative young citizens, they feel that their entire future depends on the exam!

As a parent whose kids are sweating it out for their exams, I feel the education system gives no weight to individual talent but is reduced to producing clones. Ironically, the reforms suggested to rejuvenate the education system are not radical but commonplace. They revolve around modernisation of books, broadening the ambit of what students are tested on and how they are taught.


DA instalment

The Central Government has approved additional dearness allowances to its employees and pensioners from January 2005 over the already existing rate of 14 per cent. The Punjab Government should also follow the same pattern and sanction the same as it is committed to implementing it.

The state government has not announced any benefits/relief to its pensioners in the Budget. It should grant house rent allowance and enhance basic pension for every year of service spent beyond the required 33 years as recommended by the last Punjab Pay Commission by way of providing additional relief to its pensioners.

It should also hike medical allowance to its pensioners at 500 per month (as against Rs 250 as at present. Medicines have become costlier and the pensioners need some relief.


Case for a new holiday policy

Because of too many holidays, India has come to be known as the land of holidays. When the Punjab government decided to reduce these to eight from 18 (besides all Saturdays and Sundays), there was no adverse reaction. In fact, the decision was welcomed. Subsequently, there were demands for more (specific) holidays on religious grounds like Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom day. Clearly, there is need for a radically new holiday policy.

I suggest three days in the year should be holidays in all government offices — Republic Day, Independence Day and International Women’s Day. In addition, in the beginning of the year, every employee should have the option to choose five more out of a carefully prepared list of 24 or so. The “culture” of holidays for one reason or the other must go. We should cherish the memories of great men and women by hard work and organising functions at work places to take suitable pledges.

SATYAPAL DANG, Chheharta (Amritsar)


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