School Education on A Turbulent See Saw of Policy Changes

MEGHNA GOYAL
Sunday, January 08,2017

NEW DELHI: The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation(CCE) system of grading the academic and non-academic, co-curricular performance of students has been revoked and replaced with the boards system for Class 10. Schools around the country were given a choice between the boards and an inhouse system of evaluation, CCE, in 2010.

The seemingly sudden rolling back of the CCE system after only a few years since it was first introduced has come as a shock to many. Schools had earlier been given the choice between board examinations and conducting in-house examinations that graded students both for their academic performance as well as co-curricular activities. This move is as sudden as the introduction of CCE first was.

The reasons cited for this move include confusion on the part of parents and schools about the dual exam system, and thateducational standards have been slipping under the CCE system (according to a report by NDTV) among others.

It appears odd, however, that the government and the Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE) did not take into consideration these factors when first introducing the system that most schools seemed underprepared and less than adequately trained for. Even till 2014, four years after CCE was introduced, it was found that 35% schools affiliated to the board did not conduct their summative assessments correctly while approximately 38% did not conduct co scholastic assessments according to guidelines.

When the CCE was introduced, it was proposed that such a system would take pressure off from students for performing well in academics, co-scholastic areas would be given a weightage and the dropout rate would decline. It was expected, widely, to increase the pass percentage of schools around the country, both government and private.

This it did. For the year 2010-11, the pass percentage in schools under the Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi, increased by 8.1%. It was the highest ever (99.09%) and this was the first year where government schools reportedly performed better than private schools (by 1.17%), according to the Directorate of Education data. Such a dramatic change coinciding with the year of introduction of the CCE system of evaluation must have, in part, been its direct repercussion.

This visible improvement in the performance of schools, especially government schools in the capital was a celebration of the CCE system. This was the beginning of a trend. Government schools outperformed private ones, in the capital till 2013. The pass percentage of students appearing for class 10 examinations continued to increase as well, till 2013.

This promising trend, however, saw a complete, unexpected reversal from 2014. The pass percentage began to decline, as did the gap between the performance of government and private schools in the capital. Reversals in both these aspects, were not marginal. In 2015, the pass percentage declined by 3% and private schools fared 3% better than government ones.

The last two years, therefore, had started to signal that CCE might not be as great in bringing visible results as it had once promised. This was in conjunction with the fact that the Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, favored making board exams compulsory for students in the CBSE board as was the practice with all State boards.

The roll back of CCE, only five years after it was introduced, may not be as surprising after all. Along with the reintroduction of compulsory board exams, Javadekar has also said that the States will have the power to decide whether or not board exams will be conducted in classes 5 and 8. Until now, students could not be detained till class 8, under the RTE act.

Moreover, students will now have to study and appear for examinations in 3 languages, in classes 9 and 10. Earlier, students were required to study two languages in classes 9 and 10, having made a choice between Hindi and an additional language, which was often a foreign language, upon passing class 8. However, in addition to compulsory Hindi and English, students will have to study a modern Indian language- one of the 22 languages listed in the Constitution.

If a student now wants to learn a foreign language, he may do so by opting it as an elective and study it as a fourth language. This will, in all likelihood, decrease the number of students who studied foreign languages in schools in the country, taking away their choice.

Swift and sudden changes in policy for education in schools have become a norm now. Unstable educational standards make it hard for schools, students and parents to adapt. Instead of decreasing the stress for students and making evaluation a process relatively easy to understand, the government and CBSE only make it harder for students to understand evaluation as well as increasing their course load with the three-language policy.



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