After a few years of experimenting with a system of continuous evaluation, and an option for the hitherto mandatory board examination for 10th Standard, the CBSE board is now contemplating going back to the earlier system of mandatory board examinations.
The optional system threw up quite a bit of confusion in the minds of the students and parents. Not sure if the continuous evaluation system, which put the onus on their schoolteachers to evaluate their students, which many were not fully equipped to do, many students and their parents continued to go with the board examinations option. Others, parents who were unhappy with the pressure of board examinations on their children, as well as children themselves, saw the continuous evaluation option as less stressful.
However as other boards like ICSE continued with board examinations, and marks in 10th standard were the only criterion for admission to 11th standard and/or first year of junior college, the process of admission threw up various challenges. As it is, various states which have their own education boards for 10th and 12th standard examinations have their own ways of evaluating the examination papers. Some seemed to be more liberal than others, others perceived ICSE to be more liberal, still others thought the reverse.
As it stands therefore each state board and the central boards for ICSE and CBSE lay down the law in their own way. What is uniform is that options in school finals are limited to three streams – arts, science and commerce. Of late there are some options in vocational subjects. The mandarins who decide on education policy are normally quite straight-jacketed in their thinking. The British bequeathed to us an education system that they thought was optimal for us. Perhaps in various ways it was at that time. However, with time, students who are now much more aware of the ways of the world started to opt out of standard employment choices of medicine and engineering, into myriad interests and vocations. Given this, the curriculum in schools needed to extensively rewritten to throw up options in line with the pursuance of such career choices. This has unfortunately not happened.
Why would a school student, who wishes to pursue a career in creative arts – say painting or sculpture, gain by studying algebra and trigonometry? Not much, but he or she does not presently have a choice and has to go with the flow. It is high time we recognise that apart from basic reading and writing in English/your native language, one additional language for those who wish to learn, and very basic maths which everyone needs to know, all other subjects should be made optional and many, many more choices introduced at the school level itself. As it stands now, most options are available now only from under-graduation courses. This thinking needs to change.