The biggest hit in the fight of corona is upon the young India or students who are in their class 12th, preparing for their further career and future. But unfortunately the pandemic is taking a big toll. There is not only pressure from the academics side, it’s also about mental and psychological problems that are blowing these young minds all over the country.
Due to the rising cases of coronavirus COVID-19 across the country, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancelled and postponed the Class 10 and Class 12 Board examinations, respectively. Soon after many states boards like UP Board, Gujarat, etc., have either postponed or cancelled the examinations. The Indian School Certificate Examinations too followed suit and announced postponement of Class 10 ICSE and Class 12 ISC board examinations considering the rising coronavirus cases.
The sufferings of the student have not gone unnoticed however by the experts. Many experts have voiced their opinion for immediate as well as structural changes that need to be considered. “In the short term, our universities should amend their admission process for this year to reduce the dependence on the grade 12th boards. The alternate metric to judge a student’s ability is grade 10th scores, interviews, and aptitude tests. There are several aptitude tests available that are reliable. The tests can be conducted at home in a proctored setting” they say.
While during the corona wave 1 and thereafter most of the schools adopted digital platforms to deliver class lessons wave 2 caught the critical examination phase which was in limbo. Govt schools tried to complete their syllabus and tried to maintain the schedule on track so that exams could be held in time. Compromises were made in the quality of education and attendance of students was random and sparse. Everyone was waiting for the final exams and the term to be over when the corona wave 2 striked out of blue and went nowhere. It has severely disturbed the education environment and standards in the country.
However, the crisis has also given us an opportunity to think over the pattern and structure of our evaluation and assessment system. Except for some good schools, most of the schools don’t have a very strong examination system. Questions are still predictable and exams are just a formality. In many places especially govt run schools in rural and semi rural areas the situation is more pathetic. While many state governments dole out scholarships, the returns are not measured and the whole thing just becomes another political gimmick. Merit based system is not promoted and social constraints block the progress of students especially girls.
Unfortunately there is no word from the ministry of education or CBSE, NCERT or for that matter UGC or the all corrupt AICTE.
We think that it is important to maintain some sort of communication and dialogue with the student community so that they don’t feel stranded and isolated. Besides the central board CBSE, the state of affairs at the state board is still worrisome. There is a need for the central ministry of education to take things in their own hands and guide, and motivate not only the students but also the teachers of the country.
It is time that the ministry utilizes the time and convenes a meeting of all boards and state education ministers. The country has to move with time and there has to be also some synergy between various boards and state educational systems. As a country we may differ in some of our school education syllabus but still it must be ensured that the quality of education is not very different if a student studies from a remote school in Leh or a metro city.
The recent success of online education coaching tells us that there is huge scope to transform the education system in the country. Similarly the examination system can also be changed . However, digital platforms and mobile phones or laptops are not available to many students. We remember the Aakash Tablet program that was initiated by MHRD in the UPA along with IIT Bombay. We are not sure the extent of its success but it was a good attempt. Similar cheap academic laptops can be made and distributed to all students across the country.
From conducting classes to evaluation and assessments tests the government has to be forward looking. The corona virus is an ugly reminder for mankind to be not complacent and continuously strive for improvements.
During the pandemic we have seen how both health and education suffers in the hands of state governments. The central government must keep an avenue open in both these sectors to have a say in all the states. We need to work on some sort of uniformity and synergy in these two sectors across the country for which the central government has to think going forward.
We would like to suggest to the government to utilise these lockdown time to study and discuss a host of all such issues. Government agencies CBSE, NCERT and the minister must SPEAK to the student community. Interactive Lectures should be arranged so that students remain energised and motivated. The government has to find a solution to the sufferings of students and ensure that the academic schedule is not derailed by the lockdowns and covid waves. This needs to be taken on a priority and urgent level.