The HSSC and the SSC exams that have recently ended saw students and parents complain that a paper in each exam was difficult and there were demands of leniency in correction. In both cases the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education reacted saying that the question papers were scrutinised by a panel of teachers and the papers were found to be ‘average difficult’. In the case of the HSSC exam it was the physics paper and in case of the SSC exam it was the science paper.
Till now, there is no assurance from the Goa Board that there will be any leniency in correction or if students who attempted the questions will get the benefit of grace marks. It is unfortunate, that the board does not react positively to difficulties expressed by students, but instead remains adamant on its explanation of ‘average difficult’.
The Board’s stance is also inexplicable, as now the Goa Headmasters Association has written to it, calling the change in pattern in the SSC science paper ‘shocking and fearful’. The missive from the headmasters association also makes a few pertinent points regarding the tough Class X science paper, that needs to be addressed by the Board and the Education Department. Endorsing the view of students and parents that the paper was indeed tough, the association emphasises on how the no detention policy that is followed in all schools allows students to be promoted till Class VIII without any hassles, while on the other hand, it was strange to abruptly increase the understanding and application level of science at SSC.
While this observation has been made in relation to the science exam paper, it gives a particular insight to the fact that the no fail policy of the government has not been giving the results it intended to. For starters, the no fail policy does not imply that promotion to the next should be without hassle. The policy is meant to ensure that students are not burdened by exams, but it is imperative upon the teacher to ensure that the students have the necessary understanding of the subject material and the concept.
Another question that arises from the point made by the association is whether, after getting promoted ‘without hassle’ up to Class IX, whether students are then very suddenly given a burden of exams they are unaccustomed to, and that the one year in Class IX does not prepare them for the Class X competitive board exam. This is something that the education authorities in the State must look into.
Another point that the headmasters association makes is that all students on completion of the SSC are not necessarily going to opt for the science stream, so there is no need to put additional pressure on them to ‘gain very difficult knowledge of science’. This again is very pertinent, as there would be perhaps a third of the students who pass their SSC who would continue their education in science, while the rest would opt for Commerce, Arts or vocational streams. It is therefore not necessary to burden all the students with science question papers that test not just their knowledge of the subject, but also seeks a higher understanding and application level, as pointed out by the headmasters.
As an immediate measure the Goa Board should now revise its stance on the two question papers and take up lenient corrections so that students do not suffer. But, it has to also set up a system to ensure that such situations do not arise again, and coordinate with the Education Department to address the issues raised in the letter from the headmasters.