Grades in examinations are no sure indicator of a student’s efficiency and capacity. For most of the higher studies institutions go for a separate test. Dr Qudsia Gani suggest that the JKBOSE must get strictly tight to avoid the ‘happy horror’ of candidates taking all the marks so that candidates get an idea about where they actually stand
The joy of success in Matriculation result with good grades knows no bounds, be it here or elsewhere. It is celebrated with as great fervour as marriage or career-making of the child in the long run.
Before the establishment of the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) in August of 1975, the examination was conducted by the Punjab University since the pre-partition era. It would be considered an honour to have matriculated from the said University. The examination would be of standard content and conduct. Matriculation used to be a sufficient qualification for various kinds of appointments. The pass-outs would prove their worth in handling different kinds of government jobs. Be it the mathematical calculations in accounts or drafting a grammatically well-written letter or government order, they would do it extremely well.
Some of the stalwarts in the socio-political arena of Kashmir have had their matriculation from Punjab University. JKBOSE deserves appreciation for maintaining the standard and sanctity of high school and higher secondary annual examinations, all through its journey of crests and troughs.
While taking a lead from its predecessor, it had maintained the stricter norms for the sake of efficiency until one fine day the policy changed for liberty and generosity towards the kids. I will not go into the outcome of change because it is visibly clear to all. All opinions in this regard share a great commonality. Let me, instead, go to the reason for the change and its current relevance.
Quite a few years back, I was watching the news covering the board results of a different state. Much to surprise, one could find that the candidates securing more than 85 per cent marks had no idea of what the graph of a linear equation should look like. Therefore, if any Kashmiri student would apply for seeking higher education in such a state, his percentage alone would let him down. A liberal marking was an obvious demand. This was a very valid suggestion together with many localised reasons that led to a change of approach at our place.
Now when most of the academia and policymakers have realised that percentage alone is not the touchstone of efficiency, the admission for different courses takes place on the basis of entrance test which is mandatory to take, with or without a good percentage in the board result. Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can.
Therefore, one may ask with great humility, if the cause is undone, why should the change stay? Why can’t we roll back and get a bit tight? Any kind of progress requires as much unlearning as learning and relearning. The shower of marks percentage all around us is a happy horror. Result declaration appears like a bomb explosion. It is highly energetic. We can find only two types of students, good and too good. Mediocrity ceases to exist despite its always high probability of occurrence.
The truth of the story seems absconding. In the past, only the most deserving would have a booming percentage and the mediocre would celebrate with a moderate score. Today, it is a boom boom everywhere. One is recalled of this rocking Bollywood song:
Boom boom boom, zamana bole
Bang bang bang, deewana bole
Discrete results give a fair idea of the scope of improvement and the amount of hard work hence needed. But the results in the recent span of years have left us in a great dilemma. If all are healthy, who is ill? Moreover, a score of 100/100 is unnatural except for mathematics, but we are genetically engineering it to happen. Why do we have to be so much rewarding? Perfection is a process and not a percentage.
Moreover, a few years hence, the students will also have to enter into career-making, which only a handful of them will be able to do. Only a few of them will be defending their school and college grades. To quote some examples from the past, Dr Ali Jan had a stunningly excellent academic record throughout and everyone can digest that.
Similarly, one of our ministers of the recent past had never stood anything less than first throughout his school, BA and LLB and turned out to be a great politician. Any UGC level advertisement notification still maintains the criteria of consistently good academic record for appointment in college or university. For that, only the most deserving can come forward and not the most desiring.
A second issue no less important is that of age. A student appearing for matriculation spends 13 years in school starting from the nursery. To say that he is only 14 at the time of examination means that he or she was barely one year old at the time of admission and came crawling to the school. To say that the child took admission directly in a higher class will still lead to the same age because a higher class always means a proportionally higher age. The plain truth is that a three-year-old toddler takes admission in the nursery and spends 13 years in school before appearing in the tenth class examination at 16 years of age.
A rare case may be that a brilliant child at some stage went through double promotion to reach his matriculation at an early age of 14 or 15, which should be supported by documents. Though the new education policy NEP 2020 takes proper care of this forgery, it shall be imperative for the boards to verify the right age of the child till the new policy begins to implement and this is not difficult. The mother’s date of delivery of the child from the hospital would be the ultimate proof.
Or else the two information’s viz; the year of admission and the number of years spent in school are sufficient to ascertain the age of the child. To know the correct age of a person, ask him/her the year of matriculation and not the date of birth.
(Dr Qudsia Gani teaches Physics at the Cluster University Srinagar. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)