If itís transparent, itís leak proof
Objective-type tests are a good way of testing oneís basic and broad-based understanding of a subject. Relative ranking of a large number of candidates based on unbiased and uniform marking is possible only through such tests. These tests can indeed be made leak proof.
First, the candidate should be allowed to keep the question-paper after the test has ended. The CBSE has already adopted this practice. Second, carbon copies of the OMR sheet (answer sheet) should be given to the candidates for their personnel record and verification at a later stage. These carbon copies should be countersigned by the invigilator during the examination.
Correct answers to the questions should be made public (in print or on the Internet) so that one can compare these answers with the copy of the OMR sheet. Regarding the PMT, the eligibility condition of minimum 50 per cent marks in the class XII examinations should be increased to 60 per cent. The PMT should not be the sole criterion for admission into medical colleges; due weightage should be given to oneís performance in the class XII examinations. These steps would help avoid embarassing situations like the ones the PTU and the BFUHS are facing these days.
Dr S. P. S. BRAR, Gurdaspur
End this end-of-the-year ordeal
Reforms in education need a good deal of brainwork from the government. Quality and affordability should be the benchmarks.
The syllabi should be simplified and based on practical training. The present system of burdening the students with examinations at the end of the year is flawed. This should be replaced with class-based performance assessment. All entrance examinations should be computer-based to eliminate human error.
Every developed nation offers free or affordable education to its citizens. India should stop commercialisation of education before the country goes on to improve her examination system.
RAJIV KUMAR DAHIYON, Morinda
Increase the number of flying squads
It has now become necessary to increase the number of flying squads (officials conducting surprise checks during examinations). It is necessary that parents of candidates cooperate with teachers and the examination staff.
On whichever subject is the test, the invigilator should be from a different branch of study so that he or she is not able to solve the test for the candidates. Students should also cooperate with their teachers and the examination staff.
HARSH GULATI, Kapurthala
Let teachers take over printing
The trend of paper leaks and bungling in results has made the Indian examination system a butt of jokes in the academic circles of the world. If in the effort to reconstruct, we have to take strict action and make new rules, this will be well called for. Only trusted teachers and professors should set and mark the papers, and they should also handle everything from printing to delivery of question-paper sets. If this does not give the desired results, weíll have a tough time resurrecting our collapsed examination system and, in future, weíll be selecting candidates whose merit will forever be questioned.
ANISH KUMAR SINGLA, Nabha
Develop insight to pick talent
The focus of our education system should be altered from rote learning to personality development for our examination system to improve. Teachers should be trained to develop the insight to spot talent in every child without resorting to the conventional methods of testing.
Students should be counselled to go for higher education in their fields of special ability only, like children displaying promise in sport should be taken under its wings by the state with the guarantee of a secure future once their sporting career ends.
Rather than teaching them how to crack trivial problems, school education should prepare students to combat bigger challenges like communalisam and corruption. Admission to professional institutes should be on basis of both potential and personality and not on the basis of something you have learnt by rote.
Barinder Pal Singh, On e-mail
Technology can play vital role
We have become a nation of cheating, corrupt and dishonest people. No normal method can reform our examination system now. Computerised examinations, however, offer one hope. Question papers should not be printed.
Objective-type question papers stored on CDs directly by the paper setter can be seen by no other person. The CDs should be opened on the day of examination in the examination hall only and all matter should be downloaded individually on all computers inside the hall.
The examinees should mark their answers on the sheet for marking objective-type papers. These answers should be marked confidentially by marking machines attached to these computers in the same manner in which the EVMs register and count votes during general election. Human error and handling in setting the paper should be eliminated. Also the activity inside every examination hall needs to be recoded on film and video surveillance should be on all the time.
ONKAR SINGH RIAR, Nevada, USA
Frequent illegal disclosure of examination questions is a curse on our examination system. It is thwarting not only for the candidates, who have to readjust themselves, but also for the organisers, who have to reorganise everything from zero.
The reformation of the system is a mammoth task and the use of technology can play a vital role in this situation. We can implement a system like the one recently tried out by BITS, Pilani, or arrangements can be made for the online delivery of question papers on the day of examination, a few hours before the test.
If implemented wisely, the system can reinforce our trust in the examination system that otherwise lies shattered.
ROHIT GUPTA, Rampur
Evaluation should be continuous
A major goal of examination reforms should be to improve the reliability and validity of examinations and to make evaluation a continuous process aimed at helping the student improve his level of achievement.
The burden that curricula and textbooks place on children is compounded by the stress and anxiety caused by our memory-based examination system. The rate of failure is high and moderate success carries little value or meaning. The system seems designed to stigmatise the majority, ignore the diversity of potential and justify the exclusion of the marginalised.
Examiners often set questions that are outside the syllabus. Subjective questions are erroneous methods of testing. Examinations should be redesigned so that these focus on the ability to reason. Computer-based examinations may help curb the use of unfair means. Teachers require more imaginative training and higher status to act as leaders of curricular reform.
Dr J. S. CHUGH, Ludhiana
Presentation, GD should be part of testing
The basic purpose of examinations is to test the knowledge gained during an academic year and to develop greater professionalism.
From class I to post-graduation, 50 per cent should be the minimum passing marks. In colleges, examinations should be in two half-yearly sessions and the final assessment should be computed by adding the marks scored in both examinations. The present practice of allocating various streams (humanities, medical, non-medical etc.) to students on the basis of cut-off marks should be abolished. Everyone should be allowed to opt for any stream in which one has interest. There should be an equal gap between examinations. Group discussions, personal demonstration and presentation should also be part of the testing system.
RUPINDERJEET PANDWALA, Dera Bassi
Move from percentage to percentile
Instead of the examinations, students should be graded on the basis of performance throughout the year, in which, extra-curricular activities should be given due weightage. Instead of percentage, we should have a grading system based on percentile scores
HARPREET SINGH "BABBU", Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda)
Stop repeating questions every year
The present examination system is inclined towards discouraging students more than it tests their knowledge and encourages the worthy. Usually the test questions alarm even the most intelligent candidates. Irrelevant questions are common in examinations. The examiner should maintain a balance between the marks allotted to a question and the length of the problem. To check cramming, repetition of questions every year should be stopped.
For proper development and assessment of communication skills, oral examinations should be conducted. The utterly bad evaluation of answer sheets has been a bane for most students. Condemnation of our examination system is its consequence. Handwriting is no criterion for assessing understanding. The kind of checking that depends upon the mood of the examiner will have to be stopped.
SHAMA KLAIR, On-e-mail
These days, the examinations are oriented to let students just pass the class and not to test their knowledge. Because of the subjectivity factor in examinations, students do not study the whole year because they know they can easily get away with guesswork in test. They just have to cram a few questions that are repeated every year. Rote memorisation is there. The best reform is that brings some objectivity and questions that cover the whole syllabus. The students who go for only marks and not knowledge become toppers.
JITVESH KUMAR, On e-mail
Expose students to open-book system
The Indian examination system most of the time judges the quantitative intelligence of students and not their qualitative aptitude. Theoretical knowledge is important, but examinations should give equal weightage to practical knowledge. Examinations should judge the decision-taking, stress-handling and situation-analysing abilities of students.
Online examination, due to its objective nature, is a good option, provided the system for checking answers is authentic, transparent and accurate. Five to six persons should be asked to design different sets of questions and a board should pick the final paper from these, without disclosing it to the paper setter.
At the undergraduate level, students should be exposed to the open-book examination system to encourage them to go through different new books. It will benefit those donít visit the library all year.
MANU SHARMA, Patiala
Well-prepared students are the answer
If teachers give their students the right education, they will not be involved in activities that are improper. Unemployed youth should be asked to invigilate during examinations. The performance of teachers should be monitored every five to ten years and their progress reports should be prepared.
For selecting teachers and invigilators, the criteria should be tough. Teachers should be asked to enhance their knowledge for preparing students better for examinations. The top educationists should introduce new insight in the syllabi and teaching techniques. Students should be encouraged to attend school regularly and parents and teachers should be partners in the development of the child.
GINJINDER KAUR, Ludhiana
Need to develop reading skills
Examination is just a part of the curriculum and has its place along with other components of the curriculum. The question is of putting evaluation on the right track. Evaluation needs to be in consonance with the objectives of education. Examinations should do justice to the candidateís understanding of the subject.
Students should not be forced to memorise lessons from a single textbook, especially when an array of information is available at the touch of a button. It is not knowledge that is power, but the ability to use that knowledge.
The appropriate preparation for examinations will be to understand everything through diverse sources and investigative work in the laboratory, library and in the field. Later, there should be intensive follow-up in classroom.
The progress graph of each student should be displayed every month to motivate him or her. There is also need to develop reading skills among students. Changing the typology of questions and extending examination hours from three to five could be tried.
HARPREET KAUR, Jalandhar