Within two weeks of the Class 12 board examination results being declared by the board of intermediate education in Telangana, 20 students have taken their lives. The board officials have admitted to a 'technical glitch' that lead to erroneous marks being awarded to students. One student reportedly got 0 in a subject which was later corrected to 99 marks.
Though there has been a huge public outcry in the state over the matter, the board authorities seem lax in the investigation process, blaming the external examination partner instead. Due to the error, thousands of students have been failed as per the score-card. The board has now begun the process of revaluation.
As per government statistics, 9,474 students committed suicide in India in 2016. This was compared to 8,068 in 2014 and 8,934 in 2015. In 2016, a total of 2,413 students committed suicide after failing in an examination.
Board examinations in India are no less than a period of panic for both parents and students. Since future career choices, as well as the choice of the higher education institute, is purely dependent on the marks scored in the board examinations of classes 10 and 12, there is immense pressure on students.
No doubt that parents want the best education for the child. However, this is no excuse to push the child to score above a certain percentage, which depends on multiple factors. In the Telangana case, for instance, students who had topped in the past examinations ended up scoring less than 40 percent in subjects which was a software error.
Higher educational institutions like the Delhi University (DU) end up having unattainable cut-offs for admission. Those scoring below 90 percent don't even stand a chance to make it to the first list at some of the colleges under DU.
Schools are now going to the other extreme by ensuring that students literally slog it out last year. Uma Dhatre, whose son has just been promoted to Class 10 is upset that he does not have any summer vacations this year.
His school will be open all Saturdays and will conduct classes even in the humid summers of May. The reason? Board examinations are important.
Examinations are important, no doubt. They help analyse the knowledge of the student so that he/she is prepared for their future careers. But an often repeated fact needs to be drilled down; marks are not the only criteria. Former human resource development minister Kapil Sibal had also tried to make Class 10 board examinations optional, however, that system was scrapped later.
Top corporate houses have stated that students passing out of institutes with the highest marks are not skilled enough for the job. Rote learning and aiming only for the highest marks will not surely get you the corner office role.
While all board examination results are being declared, it is time to sit back and introspect. If you have scored very well, congratulations. If not, do not worry. Life will present many more opportunities.