Can exams be done away with?
Damodar Agrawal
examinations in our schools are an old phenomenon, their utility is now being questioned. There is a suggestion that these must immediately be done away with as these are a pressure on children, parents and teachers.

IIM (Lucknow) to set up centre at Noida
The country’s premier Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L) is setting up a satellite centre at Noida after getting the government approval in this regard.






Can exams be done away with?
Damodar Agrawal

Photo by Manoj Mahajan

Though examinations in our schools are an old phenomenon, their utility is now being questioned. There is a suggestion that these must immediately be done away with as these are a pressure on children, parents and teachers.

HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi has also advocated an examination-free curriculum up to Class VIII. This is being supported by various educational policy-makers, principals and child psychologists.

Prominent among them is Ms Jyoti Bose, chairperson of the National Progressive Schools’ Conference. She says examinations are given undue importance. These reduce our children to ‘stuffed parrots’. These have become the be-all and end-all of our educational system and hamper the spirit of inquiry and curiosity. We are, however, not prepared to change further.

In fact, it is not so easy to change a tried and tested system. Furthermore, it has already been mired in controversy. Psychologists, progressives and American experiments have complicated the matter further.

For more than a century, we have been using this system and doing creditably well in a competitive world. Our children’s academic achievements have been well spoken of even in other countries. It makes them fit for admission to higher institutes of learning and for employment in job markets. Just for the satisfaction of some fashionable theorists, we cannot do away with it.

Against examinations there are arguments galore. These kill the parents’ peace of mind and their wards’ ability to do anything original or creative. Scoring high marks becomes their ultimate goal. This gives rise to boasting and bad competitiveness. Private tutors thrive, examinationers’ moral standards deteriorate, children develop an obsession and suffer from compulsive disorders. Many in despair and frustration take the tragic step of committing suicide.

We may thus go on multiplying the arguments against examinations. For example, a senior teacher of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram, New Delhi, says, “Examinations may make a child obtain a good position in a good school or college and a good job thereafter, but cannot make her buy her monthly ration from her neighbourhood provision store... those who pass all exams with flying colours are seen failing miserably in the practical affairs of life.”

The main culprits in the whole anti-exam hullabaloo have been the American neo-Leftists. Not long back they had pressurised the US Administration into abolishing the system. Children up to Class X were exempted from it. There were no boards, no exams. This was believed to be good for their psychological health. Schools reported that they were regaining their self-confidence and shunning violence.

Then there was a re-think and most private schools adopted the examination system again. In the rollback they were supported by the middle class. The ‘wolf-cry’ proved false. When a child obtained low marks it was because of the lack of a genetic chemical in his/her brain. It could be treated with drugs, now available in American markets.

Exams in Germany and the UK are conducted with religious seriousness. Only mass-scale failures and blues are responsible for our anti-exam attitude. Parents of children who have flunked make the worst noise. They describe the business of “testing” as encouraging cramming and mechanical reproduction. Expectations are high, the peer pressure too, is too much. A teacher’s performance is judged by his/her class results. Schools fear the loss of grants if the results are bad. Many inflate the results to qualify for grants.

The vicious circle perpetuates and the system loses its credibility in desperation we start talking of abolishing it. We must find innovative ways to make it pleasant. In the UK, some schools ask students to set their own papers and answer questions. An open-book exam system is also being tried. Many are seen to put the books aside, as they prefer to write from knowledge and information. In a few schools in our country, examinations have been done away with at the primary level, though parents are not excited about it. They want their children to face challenges. Psychologists’ view does not suit them. If in a million a few children lose their equilibrium, why blame it on exams? It could be anything, family problems or some inherent illness.

How should children be correctly graded still remains a big question. According to experts, we must liberalise the style of examining. The reform should come in the form of continuous observation and evaluation of the child’s faculties. Let the teacher watch as to how creative is the child and how good is his verbal reasoning.

Hundreds of schools in big cities have already abolished exams. They are experimenting with new ideas. For example, they have replaced marks by grades and have done away with the ranking system. Their aim is to discourage rivalry. But in this attitude there are two fundamental shortcomings. First, the child will have in any case to face the CBSE and the state boards. Secondly, middle class parents will be reluctant to accept the innovations. For this very reason Rishi Valley schools (this writer is familiar with one in Bangalore) have children only from affluent families. Only they can afford to spurn the traditional and time-tested methods.

IIM (Lucknow) to set up centre at Noida

LUCKNOW: The country’s premier Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L) is setting up a satellite centre at Noida after getting the government approval in this regard.

Addressing the IIM-L’s 18th convocation here recently, industrialist and chairman, Board of Governors, IIM-L, Mr Hari Shankar Singhania, said, “By 2007-08, the Noida centre will have a student mass of 600, in addition to around 750 at the IIM-L.”

At the Noida centre, it was proposed, he said, to introduce a three-year executive postgraduate programme (PGP) to be conducted in evenings/weekends, a global executive PGP (15 months full time), besides a two-year PGP in international business. — UNI


Librarians will soon have their job profiles redefined

Q What exactly can I look forward to in terms of career prospects in the field of library science?

Parnil Sarin, Solan

A If reading is your passion and the idea of spending your life surrounded by books and knowledge grabs you, then library science is just the thing for you.

Although somewhat relegated to the background in India so far, library science is considered one of the top 10 career fields in many developed countries.

The careerscape is varied and changes according to the institution in which you work: schools, colleges, universities, research institutes, archives, commercial/industrial/scientific organisations, newspaper industry, audio-visual media, public and private sector undertakings, government departments, museums, public libraries and other organisations which require organising large amounts of information.

Foreign embassies also run libraries in major cities i.e. American Center and the British Council libraries.

Openings in various ministries, government departments, attached and subordinate offices of the government and AIR stations are filled via a competitive examination conducted by the Staff Selection Commission. The SSC conducts the Library & Information Assistants Examination for graduates with a degree in library science. The objective-type written exam assesses your general intelligence and reasoning skills, general awareness and knowledge of library science. Those who clear the written exam are called for a personality test.

You can also diversify into teaching library science. However, for teaching jobs, higher academic qualification i.e. Master’s in Library Science is required, besides qualifying the UGC-NET. Conventional librarians will soon have their services and job profiles redefined to assume the role of knowledge managers. From being mere book-keepers and journal managers they must transform into information architects, content publishers, editors, digitalisers, indexers and consolidators. This will call for considerable techno-savvy, re-skilling and knowledge upgradation.

Open schooling

Q Although a bright student, my daughter had to discontinue her studies after class X due to some health problems. Now, she is continuing her studies through open schooling. Please tell me whether she will be eligible for the medical/dental entrance exams as a NIOS student?

Ritesh Parashar

A Your daughter can certainly continue her education even at this stage. The flexible Open School system is especially designed for people like her who had to discontinue their studies for one reason or another.

Although the National Institute of Open Schooling (formerly, National Open School) has a large enrolment of students across the country and is recognised on a par with the CBSE by a large number of universities, it continues to battle a conventional mindset that associates education with formal classroom learning.

The Association of Indian Universities equates the qualifications of students passing out of the NIOS with those from other recognised examination boards, there may be a few foot-draggers.

Besides regular colleges, students passing out of the NIOS are eligible for admission to various professional courses such as the All-India (CBSE) Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Exam (now in 2 stages), the CBSE AIEEE, IIT-JEE, etc. For a complete list of institutions that accept NIOS students, refer to the NIOS prospectus or log on to their website:

Public relations

Q I want to do something exciting and different. I have a feeling I’ll be good at public relations as I love talking to people and I have heard that PR is a glamorous field. Is it true?

Anjali Mehta, Jalandhar

A It’s very important to test our images of certain professions that we may have gleaned from hearsay or the media before we get too far down the road. Sometimes these glorified notions may not correspond to reality. While PR may appear glamorous from the outside, it requires a great deal of hard work, business savvy and persistence. Also good communication skills — particularly writing skills, and a broad acquaintance with a wide range of subjects.

One good way to find out what working in public relations really involves is to talk to practising professionals who do this for a living.

You will be amazed at how willing people are to share information and insights about their jobs with someone who is genuinely interested in knowing about their field. Just make sure they know you are seeking information and inspiration, not a job here and now.

Be prepared: what you find out may turn you on, or even turn you off. It may also make you reconsider, or redefine your game plan. But most importantly, it will give you the vital information you need to plan your next move.

— Pervin Malhotra, Director, CARING

Please send in your query, preferably on a postcard, along with your full name, complete address and academic qualifications to: Editor, Query Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at


1. How many Oscars have been won by ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’?

2. Which state-of-the-art aircraft will start replacing old MiGs in the IAF from next year?

3. How many Indians have made it to the Forbes worldwide billionaire list this year?

4. Who has been named the new Russian Prime Minister?

5. Name the Hyderabad-based firm that will supply the EVMs for the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

6. Which country has registered a record high of over 17,000 centenarians as per latest official figures?

7. Expand NALCO.

8. Name the highest professional body of engineers in the USA.

9. What is the full form of XLRI?

10. What is the capital of Haiti?

11. When is National Science Day celebrated?

12. How many Indian cricketers have been placed on the ICC blacklist for violating the Code of Conduct since its introduction in April 2002?

13. With which sport is Uber Cup associated?

14. Which country recently gained its first series win over South Africa in one-day international cricket?

15. Which country recently faced its 21st successive defeat in Test cricket?

Name ................................

Class .................................

School address ................

Winners of quiz 201: The first prize by draw of lots goes to Ambika Sood, X, Auckland House School, Lakkar Bazar, Shimla. Second: Mayuri Negi, V-A, Ann Mary, GMS Road (UA), Dehra Dun-248006.

Third: Aman Goel, XI (commerce), DAV Public School, Cheeka (Kaithal)-136034.

Answers to quiz 201: John Kerry; 25; Mohammad Khatami; Dr Verghese Kurein; Five; Business Process Outsourcing; June 8, 2004; Rail India Technical and Economic Services; Bill Clinton & Mikhail Gorbachev; Foreign Exchange Management Act; India; 359; Lennox Lewis; Stephen Fleming; Hendrik Ramaala.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

— Tarun Sharma