From the Viewsroom

Our disastrous exams system

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 27, 2018


It tests information rather than cognitive, practical skills

In the upcoming edition of his Mann ki Baat broadcast, on January 29, Prime Minister Modi will focus on students and exams. The PM has chosen a highly relevant subject to discuss. It’d be great if Modi could talk about Jishnu, a student of Nehru College of Engineering and Research Centre, Pampady, in Kerala, who killed himself a few weeks ago after he was allegedly harassed by college authorities on charges of malpractices during an examination. The first-year student, it emerged, was an aspiring inventor and a promising talent. He was under pressure to perform better in exams, which might have forced him to resort to ‘copying’ during a test.

Jishnu is not alone. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows thousands of students commit suicide, flee homes and become depressed, thanks to a rigid, one-size-fits-all, apathetic examination system. India’s education sector, public and private, has failed to update the exam process in tune with the times. Granted, the Macaulayist system had its merits in the past. But it’s time now to incorporate modern psychology and pedagogy.

An ideal start would be to dilute the emphasis on regurgitation of information. This must change to application-level tests and continuous evaluations. The HRD ministry can take the initiative to change the one-day engineering entrance exam to a multi-year aptitude assessment exercise where the student’s multi-dimensional skills are tested. A student who can build a small engine but who is weak in reproducing the theory in paper should be more eligible to be a mechanical engineer than his peer with the opposite skills. A student should be assessed on the cognitive, affective and sensory levels. Doing away with the old regime won’t be easy. But if the PM is purposeful enough, examination reforms can be pulled off.

Deputy Editor

Published on January 24, 2017

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