Educators, students hail India's proposal to scrap exams
The ministry has decided to modernise the evaluation process by doing away with examinations from 2021.
Change is in the air for the Indian education system as the country's Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is planning to do away with school exams from 2021, The Indian Express reported.
As per recommendations of the draft National Education Policy (NEP) committee, the MHRD will modernise the evaluation process from 2021, the newspaper quoted an MHRD official as saying. This will be a major departure from the legacies of the NEP, which followed the "10+2" format in the school education system since 1968.
The government is examining all possibilities to finalise the NEP by October 2020, with the policies being implemented from 2021.
"We will soon notify the boards for their recommendations on the new exam structure recommended by the committee. After receiving suggestions from the boards and education experts, the ministry will consider to junk the 10+2 format, and to proceed on the proposed evaluation process from 2021," said an MHRD official.
The NEP in June this year recommended the '5-3-3-4' structure, consisting of five years of foundation stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two), three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five), three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and four years of secondary stage (classes 9 to 12).
Indian educators react
Reacting to the news, Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal and director of Delhi Private School Dubai, said: "It's a great idea to not rely on a high stakes examination which only spurs cut-throat competition, stress and sometimes depression in children. However, standards will have to be maintained. The result should be better and meaningful learning and not watered down standards."
Lalitha Suresh, principal and CEO of Gems Our Own Indian School, said they do not conduct exams for lower primary as they have only cyclic assessments. "There should be more focus on in-depth learning rather than superficial learning that leads to rote learning. We need to focus on students' experiential learning and ways to assess what they know, what they can apply and how they can sustain their learning rather than what they can remember. We need to wait and see how different boards adapt this towards assessing student learning," she said.
Shanta Viswanathan, vice-principal at Our Own High School, Al Warqa'a, Dubai said: "The idea sounds ambitious as it will rid students and schools of rankings, comparisons and competitions that are attached to exams. However, a radical change is required before we move on to the no exam system. Class sizes need to reduce individual attention to the development of learners. Schools need to prepare children on how to learn and not how to face tests and exams. There needs to be a conscious shift from content to skills."
Mala Mehra, principal of The Central School, Dubai, said: "It is definitely a positive step towards achieving quality innovation and equity through academic administrative and financial autonomy. Sometimes, in order to change a mundane system, we need to define the outcomes wherein the systems to achieve the outcomes fall in place automatically. Any change means a step away from the comfort zone but if the outcomes are well-defined then it is worth the effort."
'Exams are a stressful exercise'
Ashwin Rejikumar, Grade 11 science student said exams are a stressful exercise. "Exams are no longer a test of a student's knowledge and skills. It has become a way to test how much knowledge a student can retain. I welcome the end of examinations and look forward to more happy schooldays where we learn to grow into maturity and deeper thinking without the stress of examinations looming large over our heads. This initiative is a great one and will surely help create a bright future, a future full of thinkers and not mere 'mnemonists'.
Another student from Grade 11, Issac Vinu, said: "I believe that such an education policy will reinstate the foundations of 21st-century schools. It will help to increase the confidence levels within children and help them and their schools focus more on their all-round holistic development. Moreover, such a policy will help decrease stress-related situations like depression."
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