Stress or tension, has become an integral part of our daily life. A little bit of stress may be unavoidable and good too, for it would never allow us to be complacent in life. But too much of stress may be counterproductive and would in due course impair both our physical and mental health.
And such stress stalks all the age-groups including the children and the youth. Education should be a joyous experience, but if too much pressure is put into it, children find the going a hard nut to crack.
Too much of home work, home work during the long summer vacations and the tedious examination system, all have made both the wards and their parents edgy. There are hundreds of cases of youngsters taking their lives when they fail in the examination.
Failure in an examination is not the end of the life. One can excel in any field if one chooses the right field for which one has the aptitude.
It is the duty of parents, the schools, the colleges, the universities and the educational authorities to make education stress-free. They have to reorient education with the child or the youth as the centre, removing all the obstacles that come in the way of the development of an integrated personality.
To a large extent, a part of the stress can be eased by promoting a harmonious relationship between the parents on one hand the children on the other and also between the wards and the educational institutions. The parents should take an immense interest in what their child learns at the school and should do their best in attending the periodical parent- teacher meetings. All efforts should be made to sustain the trilateral interaction among the three-the student, the teacher and the parents.
A nationwide debate has been going on for some time to reform the examination system that has become a bugbear for most of the students. There is good news for the students appearing for the Board examinations.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) took a decision in July 2005, to give 15 minutes for the candidates to study the question paper before getting down to write answers, but the time will not be deducted from the total examination duration. CBSE has also suggested an internal assessment in Mathematics, Sciences and Social Sciences. Question papers would be set in such a way that they could answer in a time of two and a half hours, although students would have three hours to answer them.
The foregoing measures, aimed at making stress-free examination formed a part of the presentation made by the CBSE Chairman Mr. Ganguly at a meeting of parliamentary consultative committee attach to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry on July 12,20 The initiatives proposed on internal assessment in Mathematics, Sciences and Social Sciences would be based on the project work and the assignment. This, it is hoped, would give adequate thrust on continuous learning in classrooms and assessment of the performance of the students on a holistic base covering wide range of learning skills rather than a. examination at the secondary level.
Reforms in the examination system are long overdue since they ha” a great bearing on the total education and personality development the children and the youth. The type of education, that makes student to think and to innovate boldly and helps them to satisfy their curiosity and to sharpen their skills, moulds the future of not only the student community but of the nation at large. We should encourage an unceasing debate on the quality of education that makes the pursuit of knowledge a relaxing experience while ensuring a world-calls standard.
The Council of Boards of School Education in India (COBSE) at the meeting in New Delhi on September 16,2005, has suggested that the students across the country should be able to make their own date she- for the Class X final examination.
The COBSE, however, rejected the National Curriculum Framework’s suggestion to make the Class X Boar examination optional. It has proposed that the students be allowed I take the examination in a phased manner instead of being forced to appear for all subjects in one go. Says Mr. D.V. Sharma, General Secretary of the COBSE, “As of now students have to appear for the examinations in en go and in case they fail, they take the compartment (exams) a couple 3 months later.
All the Boards felt that the best thing would be to have a annual examination but follow it up with a second one, a month or so later. Students who don’t want to take all the examinations in the firs session can opt to take the examination in the first session can opt to take the examination for some subjects in the second month The results would however, be declared together.”
The COBSE has also made important suggestions to ease curriculum load. As regards the three-language system-at present compulsory-the Boards suggested that in order to ease the pressure on students, this could be replaced by a two-language system with the that language being optional. It was felt that students from north India ±d not give importance to the languages of the South. The option of a third language would ensure that only students seeking to learn more languages need to go for the three-language formula.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court of India has recently made it mandatory for the schools to introduce Environment Education as a part of the curriculum. The COBSE has suggested that this could be a part of Social Studies or other sciences. Since it is an order from the apex court, the final decision in this regard would be taken by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT).
Yet another move by COBSE to eliminate stress in the examination system is to shift to the grading system from the year 2009. The Boards have agreed to deliberate on a uniform grading pattern. Already being used by many schools at the primary level for assessing students, the grading system would be introduced in Class X level and extended to Class XII gradually.
Yet their meeting in New Delhi, all the Boards agreed that internal assessment is very important and should be promoted. Although Boards like the CBSE and ICSE have already introduced the system, it is suggested that it should be for all subjects and not for just Science practicals. Students will be marked on the basis of assignments, projects and class tests. A proposal was made making internal assessment mandatory for all subjects at the Class X level. This would mean that instead of a 100 percent external examination, students would now be marked by internal assessment for 20 percent of their total marks.
At the university levels too, various universities are contemplating examination reforms. For instance, fifty percent of the questions in Anna University’s semester examinations will be of objective type and only the rest will demand descriptive answers from the engineering students. At a meeting in Chennai on July 18, 2005, the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, Mr. D. Viswanathan said that the examination reforms are required and they should be based on problems experienced by all the sides. Issues such as question papers, syllabus, valuation system and revaluation need to be looked into.
Yet another area of education that causes frayed nerves both for the children and parents is homework. Home work, and mostly too much of it, leaves little time for the child to relax and play. How much of home work should be given daily and how much for weekends and the long summer vacations is a debatable point. The authorities must study the pros and cons, taking into consideration the total personality development of the child. But none would say that homework should be totally abolished.
For the home must function as complementary to the school to the overall development of the child. Says an educationist, “A great deal of research evidence now demonstrates that academic achievement is positively related to homework completion.” The researchers found the regardless of students’ ability or prior coursework, the amount of time then devote to home work increases their achievement.
To ease the stress of education on the children, the parents too need a lot of counselling. The has become all the more necessary in view of suicides by students following the declaration of results of the Higher Secondary School examinations.
Many children weighed down by their failure to rise to the expectation of parents end their lives. “You are not your results,” screamed the win projector screen of a powerful presentation made at a gathering of parents’ students, counsellors and achievers, held in Mumbai sometime ago. Said engineer-turned-singer Mr. Shankar Mahadevan, “Results are not everything. Do what you enjoy, success will automatically follow.”
Mr. Shankar Madadevan, together with bandmates Mr. Eh Noorani and Mr. Loy Mendonza addressed around 70 SSC students awaiting the results and their parents at a motivational workshop, ‘You and your results”. The founder of an NGO that organized the workshop said, ‘The workshop is aimed at killing anxiety as well as assuring student that SSC is not the end of life.” When asked, “What if you fail”, pat c the replies from the troubled minds, “It would be a nightmare” and would run away.”
The students were introduced to different names that achieved success, but did not do well academically: Albert Einstein, Dhirut Ambani, inventor Thomas Edison and Harvard’s favourite dropout I Gates. And still closer to the student community were the icons! Mirza, Zakir Hussain, Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar. This \ the piece of advice for the parents, “Appreciate the efforts of your and not the outcome.” Do not assume that if your child has failed in examination, he is a failure, but he is bound to excel and leave his in other fields. Rest assured, you could be the proud father of a great son.