New Delhi: The Modi government is set to affect a major overhaul in board examinations in the next couple of years, including making them easier and allowing students greater flexibility in terms of choosing subjects.
The changes are part of the New Education Policy, which is an improvised version of the draft submitted to the government in May. It has been prepared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and will go for Cabinet approval soon.
According to the policy document, the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will prepare the detailed guidelines to overhaul the board exams by 2022.
While the document does not specify for which classes these are, board examinations generally refer to those meant for Class 10 and Class 12 students.
“Board exams will encourage holistic development and students will be able to choose many of the subjects in which they take board exams, depending on their individual interests,” the policy document says.
“Board exams will also be made ‘easier’, in the sense that they will test primarily core capacities rather than months of coaching and memorisation.”
It adds that any student who has been going to and making a basic effort in school will be able to pass the corresponding subject without much additional effort.
The increased flexibility on subjects, the document further states, will particularly be in secondary school where subjects such as physical education, the arts, and vocational crafts, in addition to science, humanities and mathematics, will be seriously incorporated throughout the school curriculum.
Board exams ‘doing much harm’, need to make them easier
The policy document underlines that board exams are “doing much harm” and are “replacing valuable time for learning with excessive exam coaching and preparation”.
It adds that this is something it wants to change by making the examination easier.
The document says that the new guidelines are meant to shift the schooling system from one that primarily tests rote learning skills to one that is more formative, is competency based, promotes learning and development for students, and tests higher-order skills such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity.
Academics, however, have a mixed response to making board exams easy.
“As an academic I have a problem with the use of the word ‘easy’ for board examination. Making board examination easy is not going to improve the quality of education,” said professor Anita Rampal, who teaches at the Department of Education, Delhi University.
“Boards are school leaving exams; they should be taken more seriously. An exam should be challenging, not easy or tough… It should be able to reflect the way learning has happened.”
Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre for Policy and Research, said, “As a short-term goal, it’s not problematic to make the exams easier because people need to qualify these exams to enter the labour market. But in the long term, what needs to be done is overhauling the entire system to make sure that merit is not only about pass percentages.”