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Q: Should the class X board examinations be made optional?
This is the first instalment of readersí response

Matriculation has lost value

By introducing examinations, we have burdened not only schoolchildren, but also their parents. Matriculation was a notable qualification in the past and a matriculate was treated with respect. He or she got service and admission easily. Under those circumstances, a child could indeed bear the stress happily for his better future. Today, this examination does not have much value and the tension that comes with it is fruitless. House examinations should be sufficient for students at class X. If board examinations at this stage were abolished, it will save students from needless tension and parents from financial burden, as the boards continue to jack up the examination fee.

ASHISH GUPTA, Sangrur

II

Making class X board examinations optional will ensure that there is less stress on schoolchildren. Moreover, for all practical purposes, today, the minimum basic qualification is class XII and not matriculation.

Secondly, if this rule is implemented, then the final result would be based on year-round evaluation and assessment. This will make students attend school regularly and parents will not have to spend heavily on tuitions.

GURINDER KAUR, on e-mail

Skip and be damned

Class X is a preliminary landmark on way to numerous entrance tests and competitions. Being at the grassroots, it prepares students for college and even university education in the distant future. If made non-obligatory, it would demean the horizontal scheme of education.

The authorities concerned should devise other ways to lessen the workload of education boards. Matric, ICSC, SSC, etc., are equivalent qualifications for admission to polytechnic and technical institutes. Students who skip this examination reduce their chance of getting admission to these institutes.

Instead, we should prepare high school students to face challenges in diverse fields of life. The class X curriculum should include training in various crafts along with academics. The governmentís Employment Guarantee Scheme can achieve its objectives only if the quality of school education is augmented.

SURESH KHOSLA, Chandigarh

Combine the boards instead

The system will lose its sheen, if the class X board examinations were made optional. Though the students may be under less stress after the move, these examinations are must for testing their preparation. The marks obtained in school board examinations determine oneís mental ability. The format of the IIT entrance tests has been revised recently. Only those students who get 60 per cent marks or above will be eligible to take the entrance test. This is a welcome step that will help restore the importance of the class XII board examinations.

Instead of making the board examinations optional, we should bring the entire examination system under one board or authority competent enough to assess every student. Second, prepare a single curriculum and implement countrywide. Third, entrance tests should be scraped to demolish the tuition industry, which has become the major spoiler of the education system.

MANPREET SINGH DHIMAN, Patiala 

Spirit of competition is must

The education system needs a through and balanced revamping. What to say of making the class X board examinations optional; I donít even give my consent to the grading system. To my mind, this would further make the system more onerous and cantankerous. Rather than mulling over new ideas, educationists should try to make the education system simpler and transparent.

Making the class X board examinations optional is not an exclusive idea and will not serve the purpose of reducing the burden on children. However, it will diminish the competitive spirit among the youth. Class X is an appropriate stage for them to understand competition and hard work

Todayís youth want to earn the maximum with minimum of hard work, competition and stress. This is what is leading to more stress and suicides among the youth. The text to be studied should be made more qualitative than quantitative. That will remove some of the problems.

GITANJALI KALIA, Patiala

Uniform syllabus is better idea

A uniform education syllabus should be followed throughout the country with an option to the states to introduce one or two regional languages.

Regarding making the class X board examinations optional, disparity among the states is being encouraged, regarding the education standards. Why canít a central body be constituted to decide the core issues relating to education. Education should not be made a khichadi; let it be uniform and ask the states to follow a common syllabus, examination and evaluation system. Skipping board examinations will certainly bring down the standard of education.

CHANDER PARKASH Katrain (Kulu Valley)

Base tests on practical skills

Learning is a lifelong process and to learn at any stage pays you a lot. Board examinations give you that experience†and knowledge. The class X board examinations should not be made optional, but more practical-oriented.

To measure studentsí hard work and dedication, these board examinations are the best option. The assessment, however, should be on the basis of the practical work. It should be made easy and students should†accept it voluntarily. Making it simpler will†reduce the dropout rate.

SHUCHI MAKOL, Patiala

Do we have a confused board?

The CBSE has again put a proposal in the pipeline and it is expected to remain there, much like the move concerning the grading system. If the board examinations were to be made optional, the board would have to do the same with the class XII examinations. Class X board examinations are a dress rehearsal for class XII examinations. Attempting the higher examinations directly would rather increase the stress on students, instead of doing otherwise.

Talking of stress, everybody has to face it at some point and running away from it will not solve the purpose. It is better to begin early. Making the board examinations optional would kill the powerful concept of uniformity and national competition.

Say a student opts to take the board examinations and scores 75 per cent marks, while another student scores 90 per cent in his school examinations that may not be of the same level, the former (a better student) will be at loss, because at the end, what matters is just the score. The proposal requires modification before it can be implemented.

SHARAD SHARMA, Panchkula

Stress will catch you anyway

While some students seem to thrive in a competitive environment, the others may need special attention. Many schools have counseling programmes, even though only a small number of students may ultimately require the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Educationists are aware of the stressful aspects of examinations and have tried to introduce alternative methods of assessment to supplement major examinations. Introducing class X board examinations as optional, of course, could not to be endorsed in records.

Education is being made enjoyable through stimulating process rather than a stressful series of dreaded examinations; yet there is no country that has done away with school tests. Preparing merit list is a process of standardisation. The students should not just live in present without the fear of what lies ahead, even though optional examinations are a fair thought to cast away the fear of results, that ultimately catches up with you at the end of class XII.

SORABH, Chandigarh

Itíll be like a practice match

The fear of examinations is a necessary evil. However, these should come at a reasonable age for truer evaluation. Today, there are test for admission to even junior classes, which is unfair. When you are grown up, you learn to choose wisely, read the whole paper first and consider the demands of each question before attempting any one of those. Children should be taught time management, answer planning and how to write legibly. In view of the increased syllabus, students may welcome the introduction class X board examinations as optional, which gives them the freedom to try out their examination strategy without impairing their results. However, students and parents should not take this as no examination. The only thing is that the result wonít be counted, so itís like a practice match for students.

ANANDABH, Gurgaon

Ease pressure on teachers, too

The proposal of UPA government to make the class X board examinations optional is a welcome step. A student aged 15 or 16 is too immature†to cope with the stress of a board examination. Besides, these examinations have become a farce in most states, where mass copying is aided†and abetted by teachers.

When the pressure to show results eases out, only then will the†teachers†be encouraged to give their best†in class. When the tension of meeting the expectations of parents disappears, students will be encouraged to put in diligent labour and progress in life.

BARINDER PAL SINGH, On e-mail

Itís the only complete test we have

The class X board examinations should not be made optional because these mark a crucial point of oneís life. These are the only big examinations where students are required to clear papers of all major subjects (English, Hindi, history, geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, etc).

This determines the aptitude of a student towards all subjects and helps him choose the right career thereafter. The syllabus covered in these examinations also helps students prepare for competitive examinations for entering the NDA and joining as bank POs. The class X board examinations are tougher than house examinations and its preparation makes the students face their first challenge in life. The challenge should stay.

SANJAY CHAWLA, Amritsar

Students are not guinea pigs

It has been a tradition with this education system to first experiment and then repent. Students are considered to be the guinea pigs. Already the system is plagued with corruption and making the class X board examinations optional will be suicidal for the populace.

The workforce of the future will be less competitive. What does the management wants: to give relaxation to the students or the system? First, this question needs to be answered. With the class X board examinations, the system is still somewhat resistant to politics and corruption. The CBSE and other state boards are surely performing their role, but the course outlines need to be altered as per the requirement of the time. However, making it discretionary will be lethal.

Rather, the system should make the board examinations more popular at a higher level by introducing various activities in these.

PAARTH A NARANG, Ludhiana

The tests are obsolete

At this time, these examinations only serve to increase anxiety and tension. In any case, the lack of uniformity in marking and the adherence to an age-old centalised system should have consigned it to the dustbin of history long ago.

It is not fair at all to decide the fate of a child on the basis of one test and, more so, one where the marking of millions of answer-sheets cannot be objective. The absurd percentages of 100 or 99 in languages are egg in the face of wisdom. The CBSE is, in fact, a Criminal Board for Slaughtering Education.

PRADEEP BAMBERY, On e-mail

A lot of questions will remain

The pressure associated with the class X board examinations needs to be mitigated. In this regard, there is a proposal by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to make the class X board examinaitons optional. However, it is not clear as to how such a proposal could be implemented. There are a lot of questions that need to be sorted out first.

While the grading system and the internal assessment scheme are praiseworthy, there are sufficient doubts about the efficacy of the proposal about optional board examinations. The board examinations should be compulsory, but need to be reformed and restructured in order to mitigate the mental pressures on students.

The career of the students should not be hinged on a 3-hour test. Such examinations should be so prepared as to judge the actual competence of the child and not his rote-power. In this regard, open-book system could be adopted in subjects where expression of thought weighs more than the knowledge of facts.

On paper, making the tests optional seems a bad idea.

RAJIV BHALLA, Chandigarh

Class teacher is best judge of students

The present system of board examinations is killing students. Several studies have shown that the fear of examinations causes stress-related traumatic disorders and the physical reactions range from indigestion, backache, constipation, cramps, sleep disorder and so on.

During examination days, a child may experience frustration, gloom, pressure, irritation and even the mental drain and quite a large number of students commit suicide. The NCF has very rightly proposed that the class X board examination be made optional. This will definitely take stress off the students. The proposal has been welcomed all over.

A class teacher is the best judge of students, their intellect and calibre. Now, thereís a chance for teachers to assess themselves. For the fair evaluation of students, the onus lies on the institutions. The curriculum provides the option for students to appear in the examination conducted by the board. The duration of the various other examinations should be reduced and measures should be adopted to make the studies obstacle free.

MADHU AGGARWAL, Amritsar

Donít teach students escapism

The Class X examinations are an important benchmark in the development of children. Making these examinations optional is no solution. Itís like inculcating escapism in children in an era of hardcore competition. Keeping it optional would be†a loss for those who would skip and give an additional advantage to those who would go for it.

This is must for those who intend to pursue the right profession and vocational courses. The Central Advisory Board of Education should come up with some innovative ideas for providing students with a stress-free environment. One of them can be to improve the evaluation system as a whole and make it objective.

Evaluation should not only be on the basis of theory marks alone but should also judge the students for creative ability, their participation in class, attitude towards their fellow students etc. These parameters help students know their interests and qualities better, which in the long run, help them choose the right career. The shorter duration of examinations, as suggested by National Curriculum Framework, has merits and should be implemented.

MANU SHARMA, Patiala

Follow ICSE pattern

Iím an undergraduate student of science and I think that making the class X board examinations optional will not be the ideal solution to the ongoing problems. My niece is in Xth standard and will appear in board examinaitons for the third time after class V and VIII. I think she will not face any problem except newer challenges asking her to work harder and compete tougher.

This type of bold decision will not affect students who are hardworking, will ruin the future of those students who are a little less serious towards there career. Some relaxations can be given to the students, but that will need more time and reforms. The Centre and all state board should follow the pattern of the ICSE board in which student can opt those subjects from class IX onwards in which they want to do there future studies.

SUMEET JAIDKA, Nabha

Teachers will become even more relaxed

It will be doomsday when the decision is taken to make the class X board examinations optional. It means there will be no public examinations up to plus two. On the contrary, states like Punjab, Haryana, etc., hold public exams at the end of classes V, VIII and X. Why is there so much disparity?

State governments are already concerned at the miserable and pitiable state of affairs of education. Teachers are uncooperative, unfriendly, unconcerned and unkind towards their students. If examinations are made optional, students will become even more ease-loving and indifferent to serious studies.

The competitive spirit and sense will be thrown to the winds. Parents will remain in dark about the real progress of their child. There will be no yardstick to judge and gauge the efficiency of the teacher and ability of the student. So, status quo maintained would make the students and teachers work harder and harder. Parents will be delighted to see the achievement of their wards in these examinations. So the examinations for class X should remain, as it is the practice for the senior secondary examinations.

RAGHAV SHARMA, Hisar Cantonment

IIT decision shows bars are being raised

Being as a masters in political science and a father of two childrens, I think that the class X board examinations should not be made optional. The majority of effects of this step will be negative and make huge losses for the future India and its economy.

If the students will get this type of absolute freedom, then they will not be able to keep pace with the new world order in which even the one who deserves something has to compete with others to get his or her due.

This type of step can ruin the sharp minds of the students and will minimize the level of
studies and competition in India. Today, it is the time of hard and smart work, so that the competent can compete and can emerge winners. These days, one has to undergo entrance examinations at every level of life after class X, whether to enter a professional
course or to take admission in a good institute, or to get any type of job and success. The recent example is of the IIT-JEE, where one will now have to get at least first class in class XII to sit in the entrance test.

With the examinations becoming optional, students will not be able to do more hard work. There is a need to make reform these examinations and some objective-type questions should be there so that the students should be able to prepare themselves for the future examinations.

HEM RAJ SINGLA, Majhi Wale

How else would you test teachers?

Making the class X examinations optional implies diluting the standard of education. The approved NCF (National Curriculum Framework) has also suggested a shift from content-based cramming to problem-solving skills, which is indeed a welcome move. More focus on memorising text should be encouraged; we canít ignore that these examinations are a necessary evil and we canít do away with these.

The class X examinations show the parents and students that the teachers are indeed maintaining the minimum standard of efforts that is expected of them. 
Moreover, the suggested internal assessment would create more controversies in the educational field due to lack of fairness. It would not be possible to equate terminal examinations with the tests in some western countries; that will not be possible in India. The class X examinations are a necessary parameter.

Y. P. KAUSHAL, Garhshankar

2 tests in 3 yrs is just too much stress

The class X board examinations should be made optional, as this will definitely erase the terror from the minds of students. Peer pressure come to strike you the most during board examinations and it is very stressful for schoolchildren to take two board examinations in less than three years, even though the admission in colleges is on the basis of class XII results and not class X. The need of the hour is a concrete action. Therefore, there must be flexibility in the examination system. This will definitely reduce the rat race for marks resulting in high stress levels among students; this in turn will help students perform better.

There should be an introduction of ďoptional subjectsĒ from grade XII onwards, so that students could specialise in subjects of their choice and be thorough when they reach the degree level.

Zarine Domeli, On e-mail

Scrap this for improving class XII exams

Making the class X board exams optional will ease stress on students. I think the examinations should be scrapped totally to allow children under the age of 15 uninterrupted emotional, intellectual and physical development without the pressure of board examinations. If the class X board examinations were scraped, the CBSE could concentrate on making class XII board examinations more quality-oriented and a true evaluating system for students.

I suggest that instead of yearly examinations where the student is tested in only three hours for whole yearís work, there should be a semester system, where evaluation is after every three months, which should include the day to day performance in school also.

After all itís the school that knows its students best.†Evaluation should be done with grading system.

This should standardise the evaluation of a student before he or she enters college. The examination system should be developed so as to check out compressive modes of learning in a student: memory, comprehension, application, analysis and synthesis.

DR VITULL K. GUPTA, Bhatinda

Students can take pressure

As a student, I feel that this step to make class X board examinations optional is not at all wise. At the age of 15, a student is quite mature to understand the importance of board examinations and I feel that he/she is serious enough to prepare well for the examinations. Taking an easy step like not conducting board exams, if the student wants admission in same school would never be beneficial for the student. If this is the path adopted, then how can we groom students for taking the tougher class XII board examinations, which will shape their careers. The class X examinations always help in preparing a child mentally.

VIKAS KUMAR, On e-mail

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