Dr. Raj Shree Dhar
What is purpose of education? Should young people become educated to get prepared to enter the workforce, or should the purpose of education be focused more on social, academic, cultural and intellectual development so that students can grow up to be engaged citizens? Anyhow education system eventually relies upon the integrity and efficacy of evaluation and assessment tools as the final outcome is always in the form of student performance report. Hence, the challenges faced due to the breach of examination and evaluation system should be of equal concern for the whole society.
Examination was created in the past to assess the student’s performance but modern methods of examination have made it a mere fear factor. Examinations are the way to test our knowledge. Without conducting the examinations and test, students don’t concentrate in their studies and learn their lessons properly. So examinations are necessary in schools and colleges to find out the real skills, talents and knowledge of the students.
Need of maintaining integrity of the examination system, conducting video recording of opening and packing of question papers, parallel version of question papers to be ready, confidentiality in printing of question papers, syllabus statement should include recommended assessment scheme are some important points to adopt. Members of board of studies for preparing curriculum should be given orientation related to curriculum design and evaluation pattern. The answer sheets may include separate sections for objective, short type or long answers and section wise marking by markers.
A clear policy for dealing with unfair practices relating to examination or evaluation must be put in place. Understanding cannot be directly assessed, only inferred from the outcomes of other activities. Tutors should think about how they ask their students to demonstrate their understanding. They may ask students during an examination, to describe a process, to discuss a concept, to evaluate some data or to derive an equation. These are the tasks that the student actually does in order to demonstrate understanding, so these terms can be used to express the leaning outcomes. Examination can be made suitable for the measurement of a student’s knowledge by asking questions which tests the understanding and knowledge of the concepts of the different subjects, this may decrease the pressure on the students related to examination.
Such remodeling of the evaluation system would bring in complete transparency and the students will never have any grudges with the examining authority. Families, school community and society, in general, will be greatly benefitted with any such move leading to complete transparency in evaluation system. Examining authority should understand that the outcome of the examination is of utmost importance to the examinee concerned and it is his/her right to know the way he/she performed in the examination not through marks statement but through the evaluated answer books in a duly worked framework having all transparency.
All teachers engaged in the process of evaluation should consider themselves in the most pious role and any shift in their uprightness is likely to create havoc in the life of some individual student. Sensitization of teachers for their responsibility towards innocent pupil should be rigorously carried out prior to the commencement of evaluation process every year and it should be embedded in their mind that any negligence on the part of evaluator could create an indelible lifelong scar mark on the academic profile of an innocent student.
The marks evaluation system needs to be thoroughly stratified for detecting the anomaly if any with the end goal of showing the evaluated answer book to every examinee after the evaluation process is over. In the present digital age sharing has become extremely easy. Therefore, using some suitable digital platform, the evaluated answer books should be digitally shared with the individual student before preparation of the result so as to provide an opportunity to them for raising their concerns, if any, in respect to the standard evaluation template.
The variation beyond permissible limit as prescribed in the evaluation template should be corrected before the preparation of the result. Thus, with the explicit policy framework and foolproof processes for the evaluation with complete transparency, the examinee as well as examining authority and teachers engaged in these processes will never be accused of any injustice met to any stakeholder and the evaluation system will become robust as well as trustworthy.
University Grants Commission (UGC) which had been a central institution from 1951 to look after the higher education by granting affiliations and funding and regulating any discrepancies in colleges and varsities across India is replaced by a new central institution the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). With the establishment of HECI, more autonomy to the functioning of institutions under it may be provided and bring in disclosure-based regulatory regime and powers of enforcement of regulations. An immense focus will be on improving learning outcomes & evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, use of technology, etc. The legislation has also recommended setting up an advisory council with the HRD minister, Higher Education Secretary, state higher education council heads and noted academic experts to advise the Higher Education Regulatory Council (HERC)/ Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) on important matters every six months. For long, different committees and commissions constituted for the improvement of higher education, along with educationists of repute, recommended the closing down of the multiple regulatory authority system-UGC, AICTE, National Council for Teacher Education, Medical Council of India-and replace it with a single authority. The opinion was developed keeping into consideration the ambiguous delineation of the jurisdiction of different regulatory authorities, which often led to turf wars taking a toll on all the stakeholders.
Not only this, jobs of incompetent teachers get protected once they get the backing of teacher unions, which, apparently, get support from political parties over petty academic issues. Thus, the phrase “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” does apply in the context of our universities, where neither the administrators nor fellow teachers dare speak anything against each other, even if it is wrong. Accordingly, not only teaching, rather the quality of research and research scholars, curriculum development, affiliation and approval to new institutions, career development of honest teachers and the employment of youth takes a back-seat.
Therefore, it is extremely essential for the examining authority to remodel its examination-evaluation processes while strengthening its integrity and trying to bring in complete transparency in the evaluation system.
(The author is Principal, Higher Education Department, J&K)
Dr. Raj Shree Dhar