Today I wish to tease you with the detestable necessity in education that we call EXAMINATIONS. Do you know Testing and Evaluation in education is a discipline by itself? Even if you do, how many teachers do, who set examination question papers?
How many examinations are there and how many examining bodies? The students take the Higher Secondary Examination to finish school. Now why can’t they go straight for higher education in professional colleges? Why do they need to take PMT or PET or PAT … I don’t know how many more monstrosities they have to grapple with to take an entry into education of their choice? There is one for admission to IIMs, there is another for IITs. And, they have funny names for one such examination: CAT! Soon they will let go DOG then TIGER then perhaps COBRA! God save our students even from the existing monsters like AIEEE and GRE and GMAT and I don’t know how many more!!
If your Twelfth Board Examinations have lost their validity or reliability or both, why can’t you do away with them? The nation will save a lot of money. If they are valid and reliable, then, where is the need for any of those silly eliminators I’ve mentioned earlier? To top it all there are State Level Civil Service Examinations and Central Civil Service Examinations, results of which are there for everyone to see! How civil are our uncivil civil servants?!
What are the results of so many examinations? Quality Control? Well, you can see the quality of education and the quality of the degree-holders? They have the degrees but have they had education? Are they really educated after passing so many examinations? Education should succeed in turning men and women into human beings. The degrees are there but where are the human beings?
Just because there are so many kinds of examinations, there have come up as many kinds of coaching centres. In fact, these coaching centres are SHOPS in the EDUCATION BAZAAR. Like a waiter in a restaurant, the so-called trained or untrained teachers in these coaching classes serve the clientele the menu. The hungry (for the know-how of getting through a required examination) places an order, pays the bill in advance (euphemism for which is FEES!) and gets served!
Look at the SPOKEN ENGLISH classes and their number in the entire country, and you will be amused and amazed. Thanks to the social demand in India and the academic requirement for studies abroad, Spoken English classes and books have come up like mushrooms only to fleece the learners. There are those blessed examinations – TOEFL and IELTS – to clear before one can aspire to proceed abroad for higher studies in the US or the UK. The young aspirants swarm into several shops where incompetent and unqualified apologies of teachers or trainers simply fill their coffers.Why can’t our universities have courses like Diploma in Spoken English or a Masters in Spoken English & Communicative Skills? But for that you’ll have to see that the teachers are very well trained first!
Before I finish, I would like to share my personal views on most of the present day examinations. The very word EXAMINATION has certain negativity built into it. You suspect unfair approach on the part of examinees. The examiners, therefore, for security, go for confidentiality. Then you treat the examinees as thieves and do the policing in the name of invigilation in the examination halls. Evaluation is then done in top secrecy. All this air-tightness and water-tightness are only on paper. In reality everything leaks and you know that. What is the solution? I’d suggest an examination in which nothing is secret. Give them a set of questions, sufficient time for preparation, ask them to take the examination on a specified time and date and allow them to consult books if they wish to BUT FIX THE PASS MARKS AT NO LESS THAN 80%. Award A to 90% and above, B to 85% and above and C to 80% and above.
I’m amazed at the present day pass marks – 33% or in some courses 40% ! Would you buy a mango which is 66% rotten or eat a chapati which is only 33% cooked!!
Lastly, examinations should be able to test the capability to think and solve a given problem or to create something new rather than test the ability to transport knowledge and information.
Hope this moves the authorities enough to do something worthwhile.