Why Board Exams For Class 11 Could Be Good For Tamil Nadu’s Failing Education System

Posted by Megha Sreeram in Education, Society
May 18, 2017

The story of the Tamil Nadu government introducing public board exams for class 11 has been occupying prime time today and I happened to catch a part of a talk show, on a popular Tamil news channel. They had decided to discuss and debate this topic in detail this evening, and since I was curious, I tuned in to watch the show.

I ran out of patience quite soon. I shall give the gist of what I had come to understand from the show that stole about an hour of my time. The problem of board exams in class 11 was approached from many angles, which is to be appreciated. There was a section of people, mostly consisting of teachers and educational experts, who welcomed the move with open arms. There was one group of students, which cited the ‘stress factor’ and opposed the move. The public sentiment seems to be divided as of now. Let us try and dig deeper into the issue to give people some clarity.

In my opinion, the Tamil Nadu higher secondary syllabus is amongst the worse syllabi in the country. Not only do I find the syllabus primitive, but the ways to approach the syllabus and the examination are also equally ridiculous. For example, take the case of a student who is appearing for his higher secondary boards. He is already familiar with the blueprint of the subject and is raring to go. He is thoroughly familiar with practice papers and model question papers apart from the illustrations given in the textbook.

The blueprint is the sacred document that gives a detailed break up of marks allocation – chapter wise and question wise. For example, take the class 12 accountancy paper, where 60 marks are allocated for detailed answers (three questions; 20 marks each). Three questions are to be attempted from the six questions asked. Students know which chapters are getting the weight of 20 marks in the exam and they have the strategy to prepare only for any three chapters thoroughly.

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This move will have a direct impact on those schools with ranking systems. Gone are the days when schools helped you learn. Now schools make you study. There is a huge difference between the two too.

The Namakkal-Tiruchengode belt is known for its schools that assure ranks to the students enrolled in them. These schools, in my opinion, function like concentration camps where students are pushed to study during most of the hours they are awake. Students and parents are lured by the promise of good marks, which will eventually help them secure the required cut-offs for engineering seats.

The modus operandi of these schools is to make their students study class 12 portions from the mid-year of class 11. Since class 11 final exams are internal, nobody actually cares to make it rigid or systematic. It all functions like an eye-wash. Studying one year’s worth of content for about 16 months and then getting a state level rank is not magical or extraordinary by any means.

Now with this move by the government, the schools have no choice but to utilise the time to complete the syllabus prescribed for class 11. It consists of the basics which are extremely important for higher studies. There have been reports that students who have high cut-off scores in class 12 eventually fail in their engineering first-year math paper because their foundation in the subject is shaky. It is shameful. However, it’s a bitter truth.

A Word To The Student Community

Do not think it is bad. It isn’t, really.

I have been hearing students repeat the word ‘stress’ when it comes to board exams for three years continuously. Let me tell you, your college is going to be worse if you aim to make a mark. Your life is going to be even more difficult. Brace up and be up to it.

Accomplishing something in any field needs a strong foundation in the subjects concerned. Schools have been misleading you big time and it is right that you wake up now and think about the ground reality.

A Word To The TN Government

Revamp and update the syllabus. It has been full three years since the Companies Act, 2013, came into being, but the class 12 commerce textbooks still talk about the Companies Act, 1956. What relevance does this have to the current situation?

Stop giving out blueprints. Stop giving choices in question papers. And please stop linking students’ performance (pass percentage) with the government’s performance.

I am a commerce stream pass-out of the 2010 batch from the Tamil Nadu Education Board, with an aggregate of 1170 (97.5%), and a perfect score in accountancy. I found it extremely difficult during the CA-intermediate since my brain was not attuned to such logic. It was attuned to marks and strategy. So stop wreaking havoc. Take a cue from other education boards and buck up.