Even though barely 24hours have passed since the chief of Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) council officially announced that the council will conduct board examinations for students of Class 5 and Class 8 starting 2018-19, the news has spread like wildfire raising the heckles of both educationists and parents who feel that students are not ready for it yet.
Though the board chief clarified that the results of the board exams will have no bearing on a student’s promotion to the next class and neither will students have to do any special preparations for the exams since students will only have to apply their skills to solve problems and not recall things they have learnt, both parents and principals say that these kind of exams would lead to unnecessary stress on students.
Namrata Majhail, principal of Baner’s The Orchid School, said that the exams are unlikely to help a Class 5 student in her opinion. “I don’t think they will be able to handle the pressure as they are not prepared for this at all. In my opinion, instead of helping students, it is going to create a lot of stress. Most importantly, students should first be able to understand why they are writing their exams. This announcement is confusing. Is the board exam to test the students knowledge overall or to test them in one exam?” she questioned.
Most parents said that children are too young to take on a “stressful situation” like board examinations. Kumarpal Jain, parent of a Class V student of Hutchings School, said, “In my opinion, a student of ICSE board already has a tough syllabus compared to students of other boards, especially a state board. Such additional exams are fine for bright students but not for weaker students as these exams only judge academic strength of students and not their extra-curricular skills. The current structure of board exams at Class 10 and 12 is an efficient system.”
Another parent also complained of the additional pressure on students and the resultant competition in parents too. Ashok Darande, father of a sixth standard student of an ICSE school, said that if board exams are started at an early age then the same pressure which parents put on students in Class 10 will be seen in lower classes.
“Children will lose their childhood or whatever is left of it. Parents will naturally press students and today it has become a trend to compare percentages of students. How can children who are 10-12 years old handle such pressure? They are also not that developed mentally that they will be able to even understand what assessment they are undergoing and its importance, so what is the point of this exercise?” he asked.
Parents also pointed out that weaker students identified by this exercise would be discriminated by schools. “When students score less than 60 per cent also, schools are reluctant to promote students as in boards it spoils their reputation. Identifying weaker students through such exams is not a healthy practice,” added Jain.
However, not all educationists are against the idea. Rita Katawati, principal of Hutchings High School, opined that it would not make a difference of introducing the exams.
“It does not make any difference, they are anyway writing the exams. Whether the exam papers come directly through the board or they write the school-based exams, it shouldn’t matter. Personally I don’t think there will be any additional pressure on the child. The board has decided this then it must be for some benefit to students.”