THE Directorate of Primary Education coming to have done away with provisions for the expulsion of examinees for breaching discipline and adopting unfair means in the Primary Education Completion and equivalent ibtedayi examinations, as it informed the High Court on Wednesday after being asked on November 21 to explain the legality of the provision for such expulsion in a ruling that the court issued then, is welcome. The directorate in December 2018 allowed the invigilators to cancel the examinations or expel examinees from examinations hall for talking, carrying unauthorised papers or objects and cheating. The move is welcome in that disciplinary action such as the expulsion of examinees from the hall, irrespective of the reasons that prompt it, may create despair and dread in the students, leaving them mentally tortured, which can at times overstep the bounds. Besides, children at that tender age hardly commit crimes and offences, what they do by adopting unfair means in the examinations can at best be described as mistakes. This is why such a provision for the expulsion of examinees should not be there in primary schooling altogether to ensure a sound mental development of the students.
But all this brings to the fore a basic question that needs to be answered: why do primary students need to adopt unfair means in primary terminal or even in class-final examinations, or in any other examinations for that matter? It is generally because the national education system, with society abetting, has successfully impressed on the students and their guardians that poor scores are synonymous with failure, if not disgrace, that is largely looked down upon. The high-stake evaluation of students with a strong focus on examination results and the string of class tests only spurs a cut-throat competition, stress and, sometimes, depression in children while classroom teaching is left utterly ignored by all the authorities concerned. This leads to a queer situation in that despite a strong need for competition on the market and in elections of national importance, they all go without competition; but all are putting in conscious efforts to embroil primary education in competition when it should be devoid of any competition to offer a long, care-free duration for children to learn better. Students are reported to respond to teaching and learning positively when there is no pressure, which in some cases appears to be insurmountable. The government is reported to have decided in September 2019 that there should be no year-final examinations up to Class III from 2021. But why could it not be up to Class V and why could the government not do away with two of the four public examinations — primary education, junior schooling, secondary and higher secondary examinations and all their equivalents — before the students enter the university?
A no-examination system could perhaps be an ultimate option that is at least for now too radical a shift to make, yet students can be unburdened of too many public examinations in their school and college days. The government must, therefore, take liberal policies on national education, with more focus on in-depth, experiential learning of students having an evaluation system to assess what the students know, what they can apply and how they can sustain their learning.
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