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Institutionalised short-cut

Leakage of questions is an almost endemic phenomenon and the reason proffered that the new system will militate against leakage is facile, to say the least.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The West Bengal Higher Secondary Education Council has accorded a novel spin on evaluation, to be effective from the examination in 2020. In this disingenuous overdose of unwarranted generosity, the marking is bound to become still more absurd, indeed surpassing this year’s score of 99 per cent… even in the humanities stream. Towards that end, the praxis of writing answers in the narrative format will be dispensed with.

The transition from Class 12 to the undergraduate level will, therefore, materialise without the students having to write essay-type answers. Cutting corners in the tick-the-right-answer format will thus be institutionalised.

Well might the students leave school boasting cent per cent in the aggregate without being able to write a reasonable composition; at any rate, that ability will not be put to test.

In the long run, the impact will be no less deleterious than the scrapping of English at the primary level.

It strains credulity that answer papers ~ without which any exam is meaningless ~ will be scrapped. The latest plan of action is plainly preposterous. In the net, the Higher Secondary exam will thus be reduced to a school-leaving test without answer papers as we have known them. Instead, space will be provided in the question papers to indicate the right answer. The paradigm shift would have seemed hilarious were it not for the profound implications in terms of learning.

Contextualised with the scrapping of exams till Class 5, the matrix for the Higher Secondary exam lengthens the loop of hare-brained experiments, without sparing a thought on the assessment of ability. Multiple-choice and short answer-type questions are hardly a method to evaluate a student’s assimilation of learning after 12 years in school, not to forget such recent embroideries as playtime and pre-school phases that have been introduced intrinsically to boost a commercial enterprise. The short answer-type questions will have to be answered in the question paper itself. There is no justification to dispense with the conventional system. Nor for that matter can one readily buy the argument of the Council authorities that the Question-cum-Answer Booklet (QCAB) will modernise the examination system.

Leakage of questions is an almost endemic phenomenon and the reason proffered that the new system will militate against leakage is facile, to say the least. Maybe it will not be possible for the candidates to take pictures of the questions and send the images through WhatsApp. There are ways to counter the adverse impact of technology; an institutionalised short-cut is not one of them. It devolves on the examination authorities to nip the malaise in the bud. The Council must take a call on the latest spin which is likely to dilute the search of learning. The risk of devaluation of the HS exam is dangerously real.