The state of Tamil Nadu has come down strongly against the proposal of conducting public exam for the students of fifth and eighth standard students. The examinations would be conducted from the academic year of 2019-20, the department of elementary education has announced. Various students, teachers, writers and civil society organisations opposed the proposal as soon as the news broke out in the media. The organisations opined that the conduct of public exams for 10-year-old students would stress them at a very young age. This would also result in exclusion of the socially and economically backward from education, they said.
The Minister for Education K A Sengottayan has said that students of fifth and eighth classes will be given exemption from the examinations after severe outrage against the announcement.
EXAMS RECOMMENDED IN NEP
The proposal of the state government is attributed to the provisions incorporated in the draft National Education Policy (NEP). The draft policy recommends the conduct of exams at various levels including the primary and middle schools, apart from the exams and semester pattern for higher secondary classes. The draft has met with strong opposition from various organisations in the state.
The state is known for its reforms in school education including the policy of non retention of students up to eighth standard to avoid the dropout rate. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government’s acceptance of the draft NEP was followed by widespread criticism.
The state government has been closing down the schools citing poor enrolment while the civil society organisations blame the government for the drastic cut in funds for school education and lack of improvement in infrastructural facilities. The government has even invited Non Government Organisations (NGO) to fund and operate the schools.
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It even published an order instructing the school heads to ensure free and fast access to the members of the NGOs to carry out their activities. This further adds to the misery of the teachers and the headmasters who are now obliged to follow the orders of the department officials as well as the members of the NGOs. This, too, has invited rigorous criticism from the teachers’ forums.
STUDENTS, YOUTH ORGANISATIONS OPPOSE MOVE
The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) held demonstrations at various places condemning the proposed move of the state government. The SFI members held demonstrations in Coimbatore, Trichy, Thoothukudi, Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore, Vellore and Thiruvarur districts. The cadres’ of SFI gheroed the Trichy district collector office demanding the withdrawal of the proposal to conduct common exams for the fifth and eighth standard students.
The state president of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) N Rejeesh Kumar told NewsClick, “The conduct of examination for 10-year-old school children will never help in analysing their learning capability. The AIADMK government is trying hard to hide its failure in improving the infrastructural facilities of government schools. Many of the schools lack the required number of teachers affecting the learning of the economically and socially backward students.”
He further added, “This move will exclude the vast majority of the society from getting educated. The government should ensure infrastructural facilities and enough number of teachers in all government schools to ensure quality education.”
TEACHERS FORUM CONDEMN EXAMINATION PROPOSAL
The Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers’ Federation (TNPTF) has strongly condemned the proposal of the state government. In a detailed statement the organisation had stated that ‘the move to conduct examinations will have an adverse effect particularly on the section of the society which had been denied education for long’.
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The general secretary of TNPTF, S Mayil told NewsClick, “The fear of examination at a very young age will burden the students which will prevent them from joyful learning. The move will increase the dropout rate from school reducing the literacy rate of the state as a whole. The urgency of the state government in conducting exams for these students is shocking as even the union government is yet to implement the NEP. The proposal of conducting public exams should be withdrawn immediately.”
EDUCATIONALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF APATHY
Academicians and educationalists, too, have criticised the state government for initiating the move. The general opinion is that the examination policy will affect the rural students as most of them belong to economically and socially backward communities. The examination system will force the young children to quit education and force them to undertake jobs at a very young age. This will bring down the literacy rate of the state and increase the number of child labourers.
Prince Gajendra Babu, the general secretary of the State Platform for Common School System said that a state like Tamil Nadu known for progressive steps like mid-day and nutritious meal scheme so that the oppressed are provided education has now taken a backward step by introducing the public examination system for the primary and middle school students.
Several individuals, including members of the teaching community sat on hunger strike insisting the withdrawal of the announcement.
JACTO-GEO RALLY OPPOSING NEP
The Joint Action Council of Teachers’ Organisation- Government Employees’ Organisation (JACTO- GEO) held a rally and demonstration last week in all districts across the state demanding the withdrawal of the draft NEP among others. The organisation demanded the state and union governments to withdraw the draft NEP considering that a uniform policy on education will not cater to a diverse society like India.
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The urgency of the AIADMK-led state government in implementing the recommendations of the draft NEP even before it is being approved shows it desperation in obtaining the blessings of the Modi government. The state government has been criticised for promoting private players in education and closing down the government schools. The need of the hour is more state funding for public education.