Top grade for Sibal’s promise to make class X exam optional
One Board Mooted For All
New Delhi: Moving to bring some joy back to childhood and high school, Kapil Sibal’s first act as HRD minister has won the hearts of millions of kids across the country — and their parents — crushed under exam stress. As a cornerstone of a larger revamp plan, Sibal on Thursday proposed making the class X board exam optional in CBSE-affiliated schools, if possible from next year itself.
The radical overhaul of the education system also envisages replacing marks with grades, establishing an overarching higher education authority under a one-nation, one-board principle and bringing a tough law to prevent, prohibit and punish educational malpractices. Academic reforms, including a semester system and credit transfers, will begin to be rolled out in the next 100 days.
“Sleepless nights over class X examination are not needed. We will reform it and make class X examination optional. We should not traumatise education. It is unacceptable,” Sibal told TOI after announcing a 100-day schedule to roll out an ambitious reforms package.
Sibal acknowledged the resistance that the move to make class X board exams optional may encounter from state governments and other quarters, but was hopeful of getting around the hurdles by holding negotiating to win. “We will consult everyone.”
But he also stressed that since CBSE is under the Centre, the government can implement the proposal in those schools from next year itself.
Making class X exams optional will mean that students who want to continue in the same school and do not need a CBSE certificate can choose not to appear for the boards. They will be judged on quarterly internal assessments. But students who want to move to another school after class X need to take the board exam. Related to making the class X boards optional, Sibal also wants to do away with marks and replace them with grades. “Marks will be there but students will be judged on grades,” he said.
Sibal said his plan to bring all schools under a single national board exam after class XII was not part of his 100-day strategy. “It is a long-term process. This is the direction that education should move to in the long run,” he said. Another big step forward Sibal proposed is setting up of an independent accreditation body for school education — preferably autonomous. There will also be a big dose of public-private partnership in creation and running of schools.
The big change in higher education would be an overarching authority for higher education and research based on the recommendations of the Yashpal committee and National Knowledge Commission reports.
It will subsume regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE, Medical Council of India, NCTE and Distance Education Council.
New Course For EDUCATION
SCHOOLS (PROPOSALS) Proposal: Making class X exams optional, thus permitting students continuing in same school (and who do not need a board certificate) to take an internal school assessment instead Feasibility: A great step forward. But state governments have resisted it since 2005 when it was made part of National Curriculum Framework. Also, schools today allocate streams in class XI based on class X marks. Whether a board exam or an internal assessment, how will it ease stress on the child?
P: Introduce a system replacing marks by grades in schools affiliated to CBSE for secondary classes, ie IX and X F: High time it was done. CBSE has been resisting it. But uniformity is needed across all state school boards
P: Enact the Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill F: The Bill is in Rajya Sabha and will certainly become law in the Budget session HIGHER STUDIES (PROPOSALS)
Proposal: An autonomous overarching authority for higher education and research, based on Yashpal Committee report Feasibility: With UGC having failed, there is growing demand for such a body. But ministries like health, agriculture and others who run educational institutions will not welcome intrusion on their turf
P: A law for mandatory assessment and accreditation in higher eduction through an independent regulatory authority F: Possible, and very necessary given the poor state of private, deemed and state universities
P: Review of functioning of existing deemed universities F: Work has already started. Much-needed step
P: Introduction of semesters and choice-based credit system in central institutions F: Much needed. Work has already begun but barring Delhi University, few Central educational institutions are in position to implement it in the next 100 days
WHAT SIBAL WOULD LIKE TO DO P: Have a single board examination throughout the country F: A contentious issue. State governments are going to strongly oppose it
P: Eventually, scrap class XII exams F: On what basis would college admissions take place? One proposal is to replace class XII boards with a common entrance exam, but that would simply mean replacing one stressful exam with another
Doing away with the class X board exams, unifying all schools in India under a single board, and replacing marks with grades are excellent ideas. Achieving these involves getting across many serious hurdles, both political and logistical. But that is no reason for jettisoning good ideas. If these ideas become reality, the stress faced by students and parents would be significantly reduced. Also, the problems associated with many different boards, each following a different syllabus and marking system, would cease to exist. The fact that the hurdles are serious only means that authorities at the state and Central level must pull together if the aim is to be achieved. Time and energy spent on arguing why they cannot happen would be better spent figuring out how to make them happen. Modi govt supports Sibal move to scrap X boards
Senior officials of the state education department, however, believe that a single board should not be supported. A top state bureaucrat told TOI on condition of anonymity that Sibal has still not officially sent across what exactly the central government wants to do. “There is need to know what is the alternative. If what is appearing in the media regarding single board for the nation is true.
Reference : Times of India,26th June 2009.