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HRD Scrapping Xth Boards, Brings An Educational Reform

Posted on June 26, 2009 in Education, Society

Kiran Rao

The News

Union HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal, has announced his first steps towards revamping the entire education system across the country — de-traumatisation of education by making 10th Standard Board exams optional. The logic behind this proposal is – “Why put unnecessary pressure on students, parents and schools by forcing students to appear for a Board exam if the student wishes to continue in the same school till 12th Standard?”

According to the Sibal, the students would have to appear for Board exams only if they wish to enrol in a different school post their 10th Standard.
The proposal includes other measures such as the marks system making way for the Grade system or percentile system and setting up a National Commission for Higher Education and Research.

Since the CBSE board is directly under the Centre’s purview, the new measures could be implemented within a year in CBSE schools, whereas it would take some more time to implement this strategy across the country. Sibal has also stated that the stakeholders would be invited for discussion before final implementation — the current State Boards forming a major chunk of the stakeholders.

My Opinion

It is obvious that the Indian education system has been long overdue for a revamp. And it is definitely good to see that the HRD minister has decided not to follow the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor — and instead try do something meaningful. The intent is right — un-burden the young students and their hapless parents from the tremendous strain that they go through during the dreaded 10th Standard Board Exams.

Having said that, I am not sure whether the implementation is a step in the right direction.

-This step has the potential to make the students complacent and it might impact their competitiveness.

-The students would have to face the Board exams for the first time in 12th Standard. That means even more pressure during the all-important, decisive examination.

-What impact will this have on the value of the 10th Standard certificate? The 10th Standard marks/grades are quoted everywhere — scholarships, college admission process, even job interviews dammit.

-IMO, the project is very ambitious — doing away with all the State Boards and centralizing the school education system (with crores of students) across the country is sure to run into serious scalability, administrative and logistical issues. Further, the State Boards are already well-established and specialized to cater to the needs and composition of the particular state.

-One measure which makes sense is to make percentile as the standard unit of measurement as opposed to marks or percentage. This is all the more important as the standards of various State Boards in the country vary vastly. For example,

-In Goa Board, getting 90% in SLC is a big accomplishment. Correction is very strict. Top scores in language subject rarely crosses 85.

-In Karnataka Board, a student with 90% may not even be given a second look by any of the good colleges. There are tens of thousands of students with that kind of score. Correction is very lenient.

-So, when students from these two boards apply for a seat in the same college, is it not a comparison of apples and oranges? The percentile system will surely level the playing ground.

I think Kapil Sibal deserves credit for taking the first step in this education reform. However, the proposal is in need of a re-look. I will consider the Indian education system to have undergone reform the day rote learning is banished and a system which emphasizes on “learning” and “education” in the true sense of the words is in place.

Looking forward to an India where children do not waste their childhood learning lessons by-heart and instead receive meaningful education which prepares them to give back to the country in the future.