Under the purview of New Education Policy 2020, a seven-member committee that has been set up by the UGC will shortly come up with certain recommendations, needed steps and modalities for implementing the conduct of a common aptitude test for commerce and arts students who are currently pursuing their higher/senior secondary education i.e. Class 12th.
This landmark decision, which will be implemented from the 2021-22 session, puts a big question mark over the relevance of toiling hard for scoring high marks in board examinations as students are no longer required to make their way through skyrocketing cut-offs of leading central universities including DU, BHU, JNU, etc.
Since the beginning of our lives, our parents, teachers, elder siblings and relatives preached the importance of Class 12th board examinations. They are believed to be one of the most crucial exams that a student in India appears for as they are supposed to be the foremost stepping stone, deciding one’s future prospects and career trajectory.
They have become a key determinant of one’s self-worth, as the mere parameter for the same is based on success or failure in these exams. However, what one does not realise is the fact that it is more important to develop a mind that questions and analytically perceives rather one which just consumes facts and figures by overloading one’s mind and then vomit it all on the answer sheet on the final day of exams.
Unfortunately, learning and studying are now merely undertaken to produce certain results. They are just considered a means to reach institutes of higher education, so much so that students have forgotten to enjoy the process of getting exposed to undiscovered multi-layered nuances of their subject.
Having witnessed their seniors from commerce and arts streams — who scored a meager score to get through skyrocketing cut-offs of esteemed central universities and undergo a myriad number of problems to reach top-notch institutes and colleges — students naturally/instinctively become minions at the hands of an imaginary anthropoid named Mr Marx (mere marks; not quantifiable enough to measure a student’s capabilities) who ultimately decides a student’s destiny.
Since Mr Marx has been put on a higher pedestal by Indian society, he influences students to such a degree that they fall prey to a vicious cycle, which, in due course, inhibits their rational thinking and poses a great threat to their physical and mental well-being. They attend their school lectures, take up extra classes at coaching institutes and prepare for multiple entrances simultaneously to ensure a good score in at least the entrance exams of higher education institutes, even if they end up screwing their boards.
Back home, they complete assignments, apply rote learning techniques and mindlessly cram their study material. Juggling between so many things on a daily basis makes them lose interest in diving into the world of erudition. Eventually, they become homogenous sub-standard products, manufactured and packaged in a factory, owned by Mr Marx.
At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was hovering over the Indian economy, there came a bright streak of light at the end of the dim-lit tunnel of the Indian Education System for the upcoming batches of Class 12 in the form of New Education Policy (NEP), which came into existence on July 29, 2020. It has finally come up with a momentous decision, espousing that commerce and arts students will no more be driven by the tyranny of cut-off-based system for admission into undergraduate courses. It is no more a distant dream that the admission process of all central universities is the same and students are no more required to muddle through preparations for multiple entrances.
For commerce, arts and science students, particularly those who wish to pursue B.Sc. will no longer be admitted for central universities on the basis of merit or their own entrance examinations. Instead, admission will be given on the basis of a single entrance examination (comprising verbal, quantitative ability and logical reasoning) followed by subject-specific tests, which will be chosen by the students themselves. Each university will then be able to see every student’s individual subject portfolio and admit students into the programme based on individual interests and talents.
A crucial point to be noted is that board examinations won’t be scrapped and students needn’t completely neglect them because there may still be some other universities and colleges that will give more weightage to their board exam score.
Where earlier, any candidate from the unreserved category with even 90% in the ‘best of four’ Class XII board papers couldn’t secure a seat in the commerce stream in most of the colleges affiliated to Delhi University, now even a candidate with 60% i.e. the least score required in board exams to sit for the common entrance, will possibly be able to qualify for admissions to the best Indian colleges, overcoming the stumbling block of difference in curriculum, evaluation schemes, setting of question papers, etc. of various central and state education boards across the country.
Before standing at the threshold of pursuing higher education, the majority of students will get an exposure to appear for a competitive exam that would test them on their conceptual understanding, logical reasoning and analytical skills along with an evaluation of their quantitative and verbal prowess. Here, we would be done away with most of the cramming exercise as now, the students are expected to rationally apply the knowledge and fundamentals learned.
This will provide them with first-hand experience of appearing for different entrances in multitudinous fields including management, banking, civil services, law, insurance, teaching, etc. and after the completion of their graduation, the familiarity of an environment associated with giving competitive exams may not be as overwhelming or alarming if they were a novice.
These exams are more about strategising one’s preparation and honing the ability to distinguish important from relevant. The ability to decide and choose which questions to attempt and which to not within a stipulated time period will aid in improving a student’s decision-making skills, unlike in the CBSE board exams, in which all questions are required to be compulsorily answered, though they do offer a few internal choices. Thus, it will give a boost to the development of a rational mindset before standing at the threshold of pursuing higher education.
Overall, the decision is worth appreciating but a lot depends on its execution and further recommendations by the committee on the very nuances of the conduction of the common aptitude test and its evaluation policy or guidelines.