Thursday, July 2, 2009


(Text of the letter written to the hon’ble minister of Human Resources Development, Shri Kapil Sibbal)
Sir, I have had classroom experience of many years and teach science and mathematicss to students of classes IX to XII. To my mind, the singular factor which keeps students attentive to books and the curriculum is the fear of tests and examinations. Take this factor out and you will see lawlessness not only on the campus but also spilling on to the streets. The fear of boards at least makes the students work for three months prior to exams. In the absence of this sword of Damocles, the average student will bid adieu to his books for the better part of the year. Ask this to any teacher who teaches X or XII…most of the students do not study in IX and XI.
The core question is de-stressing the system, due to which the Class X board is being scrapped. The system is stressed because our system is based on cramming knowledge irrespective of its applications. If all the examination papers except the literature papers have multiple choice questions, then the fear of cramming and hence faltering does not arise.
As suggested by the minister, the schools should evolve a regular testing scheme which again does not stress out the students but tests their knowledge. One of the methods which I suggest is to take test of one subject every Saturday, so that all the tests will be over in approximately 10 weeks (for X) or 6 weeks (for XII). Then a second round can start leaving one Saturday for rest. This way, the students will be getting one full week for revising their course and at the same time the fear factor can be given a send off by making the paper as MCQs. Also the final and terminal examinations should be scrapped. The cumulative marks of the year long tests should be the benchmark for promotion to the next class.
Projects for classes X and XII should be scrapped. Projects only tend to overburden the student with lots of writing work and at the same time teachers insist on making them decorative leading to cost escalation and makes copy cats of serious students too.
We are wasting our most precious resource i.e., our youth by giving them credit only for the amount of studying that they can do. We have not been able to imbue them with a feeling of building our nation. What is the use of SUPW (which students address as Some Useful Periods Wasted) which does not take care of our social needs? The need of the moment is to tie this up with National Literacy Mission and students above IX should be given credit for participating in this mission under the supervision of their schools.
The introduction of Environmental Education has not reaped any benefits and should be scrapped. The students should be routinely taken out for reforestation and reorientation on environmental issues.
We also should have a fresh look at the syllabus and root out all the chapters, which are of no use to the student in further studies in higher classes.
I hope you will take cognizance of the points detailed above.
With regards
Robin Mitra