R Srinivasan

Inflation indicator

R Srinivasan | Updated on January 23, 2018

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Surging scores mark the collapse of our schooling system

Education bureaucrats from 42 national and State-level education boards met in Delhi on Wednesday to discuss a ‘problem’ that education departments anywhere else in the world would have considered a certificate of success. The problem? Too many kids getting near perfect scores in the 12th standard examinations.

The number of children scoring over 95 per cent in the 12th boards conducted by the CBSE has gone up a staggering 23 times in six years. The situation in other boards — the ICSE and State boards — is no different. The IITs, faced with an ocean of applicants, introduced a two-stage examination some time ago. Only candidates whose marks were within the top 20 percentile of their respective boards were allowed to appear for the ‘advanced’ IIT-JEE, which they needed to crack in order get into the IITs proper (provided they had also secured a high enough rank in the first stage exam to be eligible for stage 2!). That cut-off was upwards of 93 per cent in most State boards last year in the general category — which meant that the top 20 per cent of students giving the Class 12 board exam had scored at least 93 per cent or higher! These numbers do not indicate that India is mass producing genius kids. They are indicative of a school education and testing system that is badly broken.

This relentless inflation in marks has in turn led to another kind of inflation at the level of higher education institutions and employers. Two colleges fixed cut-offs of 100 per cent for admission in Delhi University last year. Delivery boys for courier companies are now required to be graduates, MBAs are slinging burgers, and so on.

The HRD ministry is working on a new national education policy that is expected by December. Creating a system that generates employable candidates and reworking the exam system to test learning and not memory power, must lie at the heart of this.

R Srinivasan Senior Associate Editor

Published on October 28, 2015

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