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FORUM
Q: What should be done to reform the
examination system?

This is the fourth instalment of readersí response

Lay stress on practical work

Teachers here just lay emphasis on theoretical work, whereas, in the West, the examination system is much more imposing because it makes full use of technology and workshop training. Our educationists should study the ideal examination systems of the world and try introducing those systems here, gradually.

The authorities concerned should keep an eye on the constraints and cultural and geographical diversities.

The government needs to stop making frequent changes in the syllabi and the examination patterns, as these alterations would confuse students; who would then drift away from their actual study pattern.

The system should give students enough time for self-study. This will help them develop an independent, thinking mind. The Education Department should introduce a new and mandatory "mental ability test" for students across the country.

SHUCHI MAKOL, Patiala

II

The old teaching pattern needs to be refreshed. In the current examination pattern, 85 per cent of the credit is given to classroom teaching and only 15 per cent to practical training. This takes the child far from the problems of the real world.

Most of the teaching should be activity-based. Excursions; quizzes, debates and other group tasks should be included in the syllabus and not bracketed with co-curricular activities.

About half of science teaching should be based upon practical work and the rest should be taught inside the classroom. Abstract studies should not be taught. There should be more fieldwork for students of science on a more regular basis.

The NCERT should form a team of experts for keeping a check on teaching in India and the different ways of conducting examinations. These experts should tell teachers how to correlate examples from everyday life with the topic that is being taught. There should be some organisation to evaluate schools the way NAAC accredits colleges.

RAMAN GUPTA, Jalandhar Cantonment

III

We should go in for comprehensive and continuous evaluation based on assignments, projects and written examinations spread over the year. Teachers should be trained better and made accountable for the class results. Teachersí attitude will make a big difference to the system and reduce examination-related stress and fear among students.

For higher and technical studies, entrance examinations are essential. We need our political system to be more reliable, so that honest and outstanding officials are chosen to draft polices on education and examinations. Besides, reservation policy should be implemented in its true sprit.

SANDEEP ALAWALPURI, Jalandhar

Be objective

THERE is a need to evaluate students on the basis of objective-type and short-answer-type questions. Students should write the answers objectively and to the point. The marking then is also objective.

The only drawback of this system is that it encourages copying and flukes, which can be removed by awarding negative marks for wrong answers, strictly checking the use of unfair means and giving punishment to defaulters.

The paper setter should cover the whole syllabus, so that students go through every chapter. In papers where essay-type answers have to be written, the fate of the examinee is fully at the mercy of the examiner. There is no correlation between marks scored by a student in an examination and his understanding of the subject.

A not-so-good student may get good marks in subjective examinations by cramming and the reverse of this may also be true. Objective-type tests are the real tests. The grading system to be implemented by the CBSE soon is a welcome step.

VIPIN and GEETA SEHGAL, Ladwa

Reward quality, not length

It has become a clichť to say that the existing examination system does not test the intellectual capabilities of students. In reality, itís the evaluation that is at fault. The questions set in an examination should ideally test the quality of attention and quantity of time devoted to a subject, but the examiners ignore these parameters and treat the mass of useless detail as the true response. This is wrong. Another criticism of evaluation is the tendency to reward length, irrespective of the quality and relevance. A question may have a short answer, but the examiners would ignore this in most cases. Consequently, a genuine answer is insufficiently rewarded, while the bogus response is inappropriately recompensed.

AKHILESH, Birampur (Hoshiarpur)

Donít commercialise education

The corrupted examination system has destroyed the careers of many brilliant students, while many dull students have benefited through ways that are illegal.

Is it justified to measure a studentís performance over the year in just one annual examination? It can only produce doctors like Munna Bhai MBBS (like in the film) and inefficient engineers.

We have many alternatives that can change the scene. Instead of conducting annual examinations, we should implement the grading system, which based on performance over the year. Technology can prevent leaking of question papers. Corrupt teachers should be sacked or placed under suspension. Crass commercialisation of education should not be allowed.

ROHIT SHARMA, Amritsar

Institutions should raise standard

All malpractices associated with examinations have set in due to the falling standards of teachers and institutions, for which eroding moral values in society are responsible. Commercialisation of education is another aspect, which has created conditions for coaching classes to thrive.

Instead of annual tests, continuous written trimester assessment system should be adopted. These tests and the annual examinations should be given equal weightage in the final assessment.

The question papers should have an equal number of objective-type and subjective-type questions. To avoid one-sided competition, the rural educational infrastructure should be upgraded.

Uniform syllabus should be introduced throughout the country. All states can easily adopt the CBSE pattern up to class XII. There should be one entrance examination for all professional courses in one field. The role of coaching institutions should be limited.

PURAN SINGH, Nilokheri (Haryana)

Destroy tuition industry

The education system we inherited from the British was running smoothly till we replaced it in 1965. Entrance tests for professional courses were introduced and the tuition business got a flying start. Last year alone, this industry saw a turnover of about Rs 15,000 crore.

Tuition has become the major spoiler of the education system. It exploits students and parents to the maximum. Guarantees are given for admission to the course of choice; and question papers are purchased at premium. Professional institutions have opened their backdoors.

Let only teachers be answerable for the results. Talented students should be identified in class X and only these promising ones should be promoted to class XI for training to be doctors, engineers and business managers. The others should be absorbed in various other fields.

Entrance tests should be scrapped to demolish the tuition industry. India is a rare case where professionals come from the tuition industry and not schools and colleges.

RAJMOHAN SINGH BHASIN, Yamunanager

Board exams have lost value

From the prestigious IIMs to small schools and education boards, the examination system has wilted everywhere. Examination sharks, persons who auction question papers like shares, have colluded with officials to devastate the system. The authorities concerned have failed to make the system foolproof. As long as the officials donít discourage the use of unfair means, there seems be no solution.

The academicians should sit together and draw a strategy to pick deserving students for all courses. Earlier, the marks obtained in the university or board examinations were enough to prove oneís mental ability, but now the CETís have brought down the value of these tests.

KARNAIL SINGH, Kharar

Centralise exams

As a teacher, I see so many changes that should be brought in the examination system. Examinations of today are tests of memory and these do not to promote creative thinking and development of the right knowledge and skills.

The entire examination system should come under one board or authority that is competent to assess every student. The next priority should be to prepare a single curriculum for the whole country with a proper focus on every region. Every school should take internal assessment seriously. Multiple-choice questions should be asked in tests and evaluation should be faster.

ANURODH KUMAR, Yamunanagar

II

Our past and present are the same, if we look into our examination system. The examination system of the British was meant to produce only clerks and we still are still doing the same. The examination system is in tune with our education system.

Modern times demand that our education system should be in the hands of the Centre. Only the Centre can enforce a uniform curriculum throughout the country. Three-hour examinations do not give us accurate results. The questions should be objective-type and have multiple-choice answers.

We should centralise the education and examination systems. Trimester examination should replace annual examinations. Monthly tests would be even better. Jobless persons should be hired as supervisors for examinations. Grading system should be adopted.

MOHINDER PAUL PAHUJA, Sangrur

Donít scrap, but improve

In our country, every system has become a centre of unsavoury controversy, and examinations are no different. Miscreants would twist any system so that it favours them.

Earlier, admissions in professional colleges were based on the merit in the qualifying examinations, which encouraged cheating. Even when the universities switched to entrance tests, the miscreants again found loopholes. Now they buy and sell question papers of the entrance tests. As a result, the Tamil Nadu government has scrapped entrance examinations.

Entrance examinations are the best way of selecting candidates for admission. We should focus on making this system foolproof.

IQBAL SINGH, Hamirpur

Discourage selective reading

The examination system has failed to gauge the intelligence level of students, as it lays emphasis on achieving success through cramming and selective study rather than full and systematic understanding. This has injected large-scale incompetence and frustration in the youth.

A sense of fear is always hovering over the youth during examinations, which sometimes forces them to take drastic steps. Internal assessment and grading system have not brought us any relief.

Annual examinations continue to exist, as no alternative system has been found. Itís the right time to switch to the open-book examination system, which will encourage students to avoid selective reading.

R. K. BHATIA, Panchkula

Marking should be professional

The examinations have two main aspects: paper setting and evaluation of answer books. As far as paper setting is concerned, its pattern keeps changing. Short-answer-type questions replace long, essay-type questions, but no attention is ever paid to evaluation.

When you assess the outcome of months of hard work, evaluation needs to be serious. It should be done in morning and evening shifts at centres set up by universities.

Time for evaluating each answer book should be at least 10 minutes, and it should be recorded clearly. In each shift, 20-25 answer books should be passed to the examiner, so that every examiner does three hours of work a day on an average.

The current remuneration paid to the teachers for marking answer books is attractive enough, so proper justice should be done to every copy that comes for checking.

Prof ASHOK AGNIHOTRI, Batala

Lay emphasis on self-study

Truth lies in this proverb: I hear I forget; I see I remember; I do I understand. Learning by doing is the best way to attain proficiency. The course should promote practical training. Students should be encouraged to lay emphasis on self-study.

Tuition classes should not be encouraged and students should not be burdened with excessive syllabus.

Only an autonomous body of reputed academicians should recruit teachers. The teachers that come through a fair system of selection would never teach from the examination point of view.

NIRMAL KUMAR, Panchkula

Teach concepts, not questions

During the session, teachers should issue a number of assignments to students as the syllabus progresses. Assignments should carry questions that require students to listen carefully to the lectures, analyse properly, consult different books and have meaningful debates with classmates. Questions should be conceptual, practical, open ended and interesting.

Assignments should contain synergic projects to broaden the horizons of students. Teachers should teach concepts and not selective questions in classrooms. Classics like Lecturers on Physics by Richard P. Feynman and Organic Chemistry by Morrison-Boyd should be the motivation for lecturers.

In examinations, too, examiners should include more open-ended questions and less of those so-called "expected-questions".

The questions should not be in a language that is from the guidebooks, but these should be from the prescribed syllabi. The next yearís papers ought to be as different.

SAURABH SHARMA, Shimla

We shouldnít judge only writing speed

The many drawbacks of the present examination system can be removed, if the system is not based on the written exams alone. The other means to test mental ability should also be used. These may include tests of skill, interest, aptitude, attitude, behaviour and manners. Classroom attendance and participation in the co-curricular activities should also be the measure of performance.

Written examinations are not fully successful in measuring the performance of students in just three hours. These are rather tests of writing speed and ability to memorise. The bias of the examiner cannot always be ruled out, but his or her unbiased attitude can improve the system a great deal.

RAVINDER KAUR, Bathinda

Varsities should pay for negligence

The recent cases of leaking of question papers of various examinations has exposed corrupt practices that hinder proper selection of candidates for professional courses. Proper secrecy and confidentiality should be maintained in case of these examinations.

The government should plug the loopholes in this system by disaffiliating all persons involved in these scams. An important step has taken by the Punjab Government after the PMT-paper leak, under which the right to conduct the examination has transferred from Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. This will set the right example for others.

Moreover, the involvement of human factor in examinations should be reduced to the minimum with the use of latest technology. The technology can be upgraded from time to time for reasons of safety and security.

GAURAV JAIN, Jalandhar City

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