The decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education to make the Class 10 board exam compulsory ought effectively to negate one of the whimsical ideas of the previous HRD minister under the Congress-led UPA government. On closer reflection, making the first public exam optional was a curious expression of Kapil Sibal’s turmoil of ideas.

That turmoil, it would be pertinent to recall, had impinged on the search for learning from the primary to the post-graduate levels. Hopefully, the Centre’s acceptance of a critical recommendation should be a matter of form… and without further discourse. The move mirrors the incumbent, Prakash Javadekar’s preference for a mandatory test at the point of transition ~ from the secondary to the higher secondary stage. Assuming that the CBSE’s initiative will attain fruition, it will effectively terminate the experiment with learning that was introduced by the previous dispensation.

Also to be welcomed are the proposed changes in the pattern of examinations, notably by reviving the “marks system” instead of the rather unconvincing praxis of fixing grades which runs counter to the concept of precision in the matter of evaluation. Additionally, the candidate’s score in the board exam will be accorded 80 per cent weightage, the remaining 20 per cent being earmarked for what they call “co-scholastic areas” and cultural activities.

The ratio is remarkably rational in terms of assessment at the end of ten years of schooling, not to forget what is currently referred to as “pre-school stage”. It is an improvement too of the earlier 60/40 ratio between the exam and “co-scholastic areas”.

With the new praxis scheduled to be implemented from the 2018 session, one must give it to the HRD ministry that better sense has prevailed six years after the UPA’s hare-brained scheme was introduced in 2011 at the behest of Mr Sibal. Assimilation of learning was almost consciously accorded the short shrift. The fact needs to be underlined that not every school is equipped with the pirambika model ~ no exams as a matter of policy ~ that is in force in the institutions run by Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.

The mode of instruction is wholly different there, let alone the fundamental philosophy of education as once enunciated by the Mother.

It is fervently to be hoped that the CBSE’s recommendation will be generally welcomed by the school authorities and also, of course, the students. It is now generally conceded by academics, who were once associated with CBSE, that assessments under the so-called Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) have on occasion been absurdly generous.

Undeserving candidates were often awarded “very good marks” under CCE. In the net, this has undermined both evaluation and the standard of instruction. Education lends no scope for cutting corners. Class 10 students deserve better than adult experimentation.