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Almost everywhere in the country celebrations are on among the students – the results of different boards like ICSE, CBSE or others for class X and XII add festive moods. News5pm wises best to all the successful candidates who passed in the two examinations which are considered as the ‘gateways’ to life.
On the same time the trends of results have started indicating something unusual because in the above-mentioned scenario, the pictures of poverty ravaged Indian societies where poor students still compelled to sit on the floors of the government’s primary or middle schools in rural hinterlands, how such celebrations for high numbers in the mark sheets are relevant?
The intension is certainly not to raise any doubt over the merits of the successful candidates rather to point out the present system. It is pertinent to note here that today Bihar intermediate board’s result shows collapse of education system in government school in the state. Over 30% students in science stream hardly managed to pass the exam and the state topper, Khusboo Kumari of Simultala government’s residential school, Jamui hardly managed to scored 86.2%. While on yesterday Kolkata girl Ananya Maity has emerged as the class XII all India topper of ICSE with 99.5%. 17-year-old Raksha Gopal, who scored 99.6% in her CBSE 12th boards to emerge as all-India topper this time.
So when such disparity is clearly visible, we are thankful to Mr Ashish Sinha, who tried to specify the issue in his blog, which is very much relevant in today’s context. We are also thankful to him for allowing us to present his blog before our readers for their valuable opinions:
BOARD EXAM RESULTS: CATCH 99 SITUATION !
By Ashish Sinha/
Heartiest congratulations to all students who have passed the Class XII exams conducted by CBSE. Those who couldn’t have no reason to feel bad because there’s always a next chance. It also feels nice to know that some child has actually scored 99.6% marks (498 out of 500) and that more than 10,000 students have netted over 95% marks. Undoubtedly, they are brilliant children, very hardworking, very diligent and very intelligent. No one can have a problem with them. Congratulations to them, their parents and their teachers. I am sure they will do very well in life.
But I definitely have a very serious problem with CBSE (and any other school board) which, year after year, awards such astoundingly high marks to young girls and boys. This has gone on for too long. I am disturbed not only because such a marking system pegs the threshold of seeking a marks-based seat in a college much too high and impossible for most to achieve. This is a real problem yes, but the much bigger problem is the disastrous psychological impact such high marks have on thousands of other students who couldn’t become a member of the exalted 95%-plus club. Moreover, extensive media coverage, focused as it is on the “achievers”, doesn’t help matters at all.
Board exam results have undergone a drastic transformation over the years. I remember that people of my father’s generation would be happy scoring a high second class in the higher secondary or intermediate exams. They would always talk about their good performance. For them, 55% was excellent (there was no ICSE, CBSE boards at that time). The general threshold kept rising and when I passed my Plus-Two in the mid-1980s, a first class was considered very good, and if a student got anything above 80%, she or he was said to have performed extremely well. But the median – say the bulk scoring between 55% and 75% — looked decent; it did not look vulgar, even plain stupid and mysterious, as it does now. I distinctly remember that in those days, the Class X board syllabus also covered what was taught in Class IX, and the Class XII board syllabus also covered what was taught in Class XI.
I guess matters began to turn after mid-1990s or maybe a little earlier than that. It was also during this period that the board syllabi covered only what was taught in Class X or in Class XII respectively and the “load” on the examinees came down by half.
I fail to understand how it will be bad if a Class XII board topper scores 85%, or at the most 90%, because marks of the rest of the students will also get accordingly interspaced. This 99% game looks too shady to me. What I have gathered from newspaper reports is that the system of “moderation”, which ran into such a big controversy this year, is based on awarding grace marks to students who are on the threshold of a certain percentage of marks and it even awards extra marks in case the question paper is “difficult”.
There has to be something inherently wrong with a marking system which catapults so many students in 95%-plus group. I do not know what because it is a secret well guarded by CBSE (or any other similar board) and the examiners. In essence, what this system produces is a very limited number of “excellently brilliant” students at the peril of those who are “good”, “average” and the “also-rans”. It is the psychologists’ job to examine the impact of such a marking system but I am ready to hazard a guess that it is not socially desirable.
To my mind, there is yet another problem with the present system. Let’s take the case of a student who has scored 95% in her/his Class XII boards. That student is hailed, perhaps rightly so, as “simply brilliant” and the future academic expectations from this child are extremely high too. The marking system in our colleges and universities has not ‘kept pace’ with this high-marks Plus-Two pattern. Therefore, a BA Economics student, who has scored 65% or so, is considered very good. But in effect, it is a huge 30% downslide – from 95% in Class XII to 65% in the BA exams. Obviously, this would have a serious psychological impact on the “topper” too. “Oh, you scored 95% in Class XII and 65% in your BA exams!”
I do not know what is the way out of this rat race which is won, more often than not, through learning the tips and tricks of scoring 95%+ in Class XII exams. It is inherently unfair to the bulk of students who did not learn those tricks because there was no teacher or mentor to guide him. The first solution, therefore, could be to actually bring down the toppers’ threshold from today’s 99% etc to the decent 85-90% bracket. The second solution could be to shift to the grade marking system practised by most good school exam systems across the world. The third solution could be to increase the intake in UG courses in good “public” institutions because the mushrooming private colleges and universities charge exorbitantly high fees while there is no uniform system of admissions. It basically means that whatever be your score, you can join a UG course at a private college if your parents can afford that kind of big money. Education cannot be a commodity to be bought. Another good method of college admissions, already practised by some institutions, could be a system that takes into account the Board percentage of students along with the marks scored by them in the entrance exams.
I do not see a change happening any day soon and so I keep my fingers crossed as the amusing cut-off percentages of college admissions are flashed in the newspapers during the next few days!