The Façade of Board Exams

In 2005, when the results were out, no one had told me the futility of scoring x% in your Boards. I believed that this was an important milestone and that hereon, my report card stating this number, would define me.

Nearly a decade later, the results for the CBSE Board exams are out and once again, the frenzy to score a 95 plus is as big as it was back in my days. I was amused to see this a few years back when my brother was giving his Boards but now, I feel disappointed. Despite n number of research studies elaborating the futility of such evaluations, we are still hell-bent on stitching a child’s future with a score. Not only does this evaluation fail to test the child’s acumen, it is also a useless exercise that fundamentally excludes those who cannot do rote learning.

Joint Review Missions from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have consistently reported a decline in reading and math levels among children who belong to the 5-16 age group. Even if a sizable number of students pass Boards or score a good number, the learning crisis in India is huge. Not all the students who clear examinations are sufficiently equipped to make the transition to a higher grade. Despite having such findings at hand, it is discouraging to see the State invest a lot of effort in promoting ‘top scorers’.

It is also worth remembering that scoring a whopping number for the tenth or the twelfth boards does not automatically mean a successful career. The handful of people I know who are still nostalgic about their glorious school days, are struggling to reconcile with their jobs. So, who are we kidding when we gush over a ninety plus when all that it means is a brief moment in the spotlight?

We are still miles away from ensuring 100 percent enrollment and providing adequate resources for our students. We do not have schools within 5 km radius as promised by the RTE act and in 2018, we are still struggling with high drop-out rates. In addition to all of these concerns, a sizable number of children are ditching school to support their families. What are we then thinking when we ‘celebrate’ top scorers?

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