Examination system in Kashmir needs an overhaul.That’s something everybody agrees on. So how do we fix it? We got some students to chat about it in this edition of Let’s Talk.
Kashmir Impulse copy editor, Benish Ali Bhat, moderated the discussion. And this is how it went:
Benish: Welcome everybody. Asif, has our examination system become outdated?
Asif: I won’t say outdated because it is still very much prevalent. Well, it asks for a lot of changes but saying it’s outdated is harsh.
Azmat: This system has no relevance at all. I was studying outside for some time and I can say our examination system is nowhere near up to the mark.
Adnaan: I have full faith in this system. It has been working for years and I feel it does justice to the students.
Misbah: The system is designed to ruin the future of the students. There is no testing of skills in this format.
Benish: Has the examination system become a substitute for the educational system?
Azmat: It certainly has. The whole year we are trained just to write a theoretical paper at the end of the session. I am an engineering student and I don’t feel my exams in any way test my skills. What matters is just the exam in the end.
Adnaan: Why shouldn’t exams assume importance? The students will never take studies seriously if the examination system isn’t strong enough.
Misbah: Exams shouldn’t be everything. The focus needs to be on educating a person.
Benish: Does the system promote rote learning and discourage those who can’t do it and fail?
Misbah: Absolutely, we are trained from childhood to get high scores in exams. We have to do it by hook or crook, and rote learning becomes the way to go about it.
Asif: Yes, rote learning is definitely a side effect of this system. Thorough education takes a back seat in such a scenario. Also those who fail are otherwise intelligent, but are highly discouraged by the system.
Benish: Theory or practical work?
Azmat: The system uses the same method for all subjects. There shouldbe different exam patterns for different disciplines.
Asif: There should be a 50-50 approach between theory and practical. And I believe the approach should be according to what the subject demands.
Misbah: I am not saying theory isn’t important. We can have subjective exams at the end of the year, but there should also be lots of interactive sessions, discussions and practical work.
Adnaan:Har koi yahaanapna hi sochrahahai. Law students will ask for theory-based exams and engineers for MCQs.
Asif: At our university we have no written exam in the fourth semester. Instead students will prepare projects because the field of media needs a practical approach. So the subject itself tells you what it demands.
Azmat: Look, you cannot ask first year medical students to cut open a body. Obviously they need theoretical knowledge first, and then they can move to practical work. It has to be incorporated into the system gradually, but it’s not happening.
Benish: Let’s take it one by one. What reforms do you want in the system?
Misbah: Theory based exam should be there, but intellectual growth of students should be promoted. Hold discussions with students and give them practical assignments and give them scores on that basis. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you have a degree or not. What matters is what you have learned.
Asif: I have been teaching for ten years and the picture is very bleak here. Some of the students can’t even properly introduce themselves. The system needs to be reformed keeping the students in mind. Misbah rightly said a practical component can give the student confidence. Some girl students in our course were afraid of even touching the camera at the start of the course.
Azmat: I have an example to quote here. The Finish education system which is world renowned puts minimum stress on exams. The focus is on a 50-50 relationship between a teacher and a student. And that is what real education is all about and maybe we can learn from them. Also there are a couple of universities in New Zealand where exams are more like assignments and you can take help of whatever means. You just have to quote the sources. Isn’t this better then cramming books and writing the stuff back to your teachers in your answers?
Adnaan: I am fine with the system, but yes you can incorporate extra-curricular activities as part of the overall system. Also, students should be an active part of the reforms.
Asif: Very true. There should be brainstorming sessions among authorities, teachers and students.
Benish: What about an open answer book system where teacher discusses the paper with the student?
Misbah: It would be a very healthy system when a teacher discusses a paper with students so that they understand where they are wrong.
Asif: The moment students know that the paper will go to a teacher and then come back to them, there will be more effort on their part. It will also bring in transparency.
Azmat: I don’t agree. When the student is under pressure to discuss the paper with the teacher, there will be more cramming to perform better, even if one doesn’t understand the concepts. There will be more cheating. It’s better to discuss concepts in the class rather than discuss answer papers.
Benish: Okay, Kashmir University is proposing to introduce MCQ based exams. One comment from everybody. Is it alright to completely do away with subjective questions?
Misbah: It’s a good step but again I would also like lot of practical work.
Asif: No, MCQs are not the answer. It can never test the comprehension of a student and never test his/her hold over the subject. This step is just to ease the process of evaluation.
Azmat: It is a great step especially for an engineering student like me. But it depends on the subject. Having MCQs for English is funny.
Adnaan: It just seems like an easy escape for the authorities. It is no good.
Benish: Okay. A last comment from all of you about the system?
Misbah: Totally devastating.
Asif: Needs reform.
Adnaan: I am fine with it.
Azmat: My report card does not define who I am! Does it?
Benish: Thanks everybody for your valuable comments.