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Karnataka: Proposal of public examination adds to the chaos

October 31, 2019

The Karnataka government’s ambitious plan to re-introduce public examination for class VII children of state board schools announced recently has immediately hit rough weather. Most of the stakeholders including the Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (KCPCR) opposed the move while S Suresh Kumar, education minister in the newly elected BJP/NDA government of Karnataka, wants to implement the scheme from the current academic year.

It all started with Kumar announcing a public examination for the class V and VIII students on the ground that the continuous comprehensive evaluation and automatic promotion of children mandated by Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009 had adversely affected learning outcomes in senior school. He made this announcement immediately after taking charge as the education minister in the newly formed BSYediyurappa led government. Sensing opposition, he changed his stand and proposed public examination only at class VII level.

As per the proposal, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) wants to hold a public examination for class VII children at the district level. The question papers will be formed at the district level and the valuation of the answer scripts will be evaluated at the taluk level. After the evaluation, if a student is found to have scored below average marks, he will be given another chance to write the examination. There is no proposal to retain the student at this level.

“It is part of our strategy to improve the learning levels of the students. We will not retain the students even though we hold the examination. It is like preparing our children for a bigger examination in class X. One of the common reasons attributed to the poor results at the SSLC examination is no public examination until class X. So we are experimenting with this. It will be implemented from this academic year itself,” said Kumar.

But the parents are divided over the state government’s ‘public examination’ proposal.  Says Rashmi V Baliga, a parent from Mysore, “How come the government implements such a big decision after the mid-term examinations are concluded? Half of the academic year is already completed. How come we ask our kids to prepare for the public examination now? it will definitely add to the pressure of the students. Let the government wait for a year and implement from the next academic year.”

Nagasimha G Rao, a trustee at the Child Rights Trust also expressed such a viewpoint. According to Rao, the very concept of public examination at class VII level is against the concept of Right to Education (RTE) rules. “We will not allow any such examination. We will move to the court,” he said.

KSCPCR chairperson Antony Sebastian also echoed a similar viewpoint. He stated that the commission already asked the DPI from going ahead with the proposal in a hurry. “They can’t implement this examination without taking our approval as we are the custodians of the Right to Education,” he said.

According to the experts, the biggest problem with the state education system is sudden policy changes without prior consultation with stakeholders. “RTE rules say no retention till the class X. In such a scenario, the very concept of public examination is against the rules,” explained NagarajAithal, an academician working for several national agencies from the Bengaluru city.

“If the government or the new minister feels that the learning levels of the students are very bad because of the no public examination, let it take up a study. There is no scientific evidence to prove that public examinations improve the learning levels,” he said.

He also warned that if the state government continues with such experiments in the middle of an academic year, it will add to the pressure of the children. “It is sad that 13-year-olds are subjected to stress for such controversy,” he said.

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