Yes, we know you don’t like exams. Nobody does.
So Kashmir Impulse (KI) reporter Nishah Zargar sat with a bunch of youngsters and had a chat with them on the merits and demerits of the examination system.
This is how the debate went:
NISHAH: Great to have you people on this show. Reyan, let me start with you. Are exams relevant?
REYAN: See, we need to understand why we are here. If examinations were relevant, then we wouldn’t be here. Examinations have their advantages. Disadvantages too! They don’t examine anybody’s capabilities. I am a swimmer and you are asking me to climb a tree.
ZUFA: I disagree with Reyan. I think examinations allow deserving people to reach the next level.
REYAN: I have aptitude for poetry but they want me to put emphasis on Biology. So how are they enhancing my capabilities ? I should have basic knowledge but at the same time they are reducing my capabilities.......
NISHAH: Reyan, poetry is a part of your English text book. That can help you to enhance your poetic skills?
REYAN: I want to be a poet, shouldn’t I be groomed that way ? You should lay emphasis on our interests rather than the syllabus.
HEESHMA: Absolutely. I am interested in Physics, so I should be prepared to take up Physics as my profession. I should not be forced to take up MBBS if I choose medical subjects.
ZUFA: I want to interrupt you here. Up to high school, we only get a basic knowledge of all subjects which I think is important.
REYAN: The debate here is about exams. What good do they do to us? Let me give an example. A law student at Cambridge University was asked, “What is risk?” What would have been your answer? Obviously a fairy tale full length answer! That student simply replied: “It is risk,” and the examiner gave full marks for that. Would that happen in Kashmir? We don’t have value-based evaluation here.
JALEED: I feel exams tell us where we stand.
MOOMIN: I too am in favour of exams.
ZUFA: The system is the problem, not the exam itself. Exams compel us to study.
HEESHMA: Absolutely right. I am a medical student, my performance should be judged by practical exams. But JK BOSE exams are mostly theory based.
NISHAH: You people seem to suggest exams are a compulsion! But do we have an alternative?
ZUFA: We can switch over to bi-annual exams. Interactive exams can also be introduced.
HEESHMA: JK BOSE expects us to write huge answers for a 5 mark question. But the competitive exams are all objective type. We are not trained for that.
NISHAH: Nowadays, students want to write to the point but the requirement is long answers-----------
HEESHMA: This is the basic reason why there should be practical exams rather than theory based ones. If you read the biographies of some great scientists like Newton, you’ll find they failed their exams. People didn’t understand their talent and thought they were mad.
REYAN: I think exams create a notion that you can’t fail.
ZUFA: No, I disagree. The problem is not examinations. It’s competition that develops the concept of failures.
HEESHMA: Movies like 3 Idiots teach us some lessons. Exams are not the only way of learning. Momentarily, our parents agree but then they forget and start pressurising us for better grades.
NISHAH: After the September floods, examinations were rescheduled from November to March and now we have mass promotion for most classes. What are your views on this switchover?
MOOMIN: No, I don’t think it was a right decision. Exams could have been postponed till December. A gap of six months is too much! They wasted our six months! They could have looked for alternatives.
REYAN: When they could hold the election on time which is such a huge exercise, why were exams postponed?
HEESHMA: The delay has caused problems for those who had to sit in competitive exams in March. Also we are confused! What to study? The syllabus of the last class or the new one ?
NISHAH: Should March session be permanent?
ZUFA: No. I think it will create problems as we have a long winter break.
NISHAH: Coming to another issue. Does our exam system promote cramming?
ZUFA: Yes definitely! Our system allows us to pass even if we study only for the exams. So what if we don’t open our books for the whole year!
HEESHMA: It is like a deadline. Exams on a particular date and 90% syllabus remaining uncovered! The student starts cramming without checking his or her ability.
REYAN: I would like to add a point here. Education should be goal oriented. And in no way I mean that exams and grades should be the goal. There’s a saying, ‘If you want to study for life, study a book, but if you have to study just for academics, study course books.’ We need books more than course books.
NISHAH: Reyan, that’s a great parting shot. Boys and girls thank you for your participation and valuable comments.