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Experts question Govt’s move of shifting academic session

Representational picture

Irshad Khan

Srinagar Apr 08: With the government set to shift school examinations in Kashmir to March session, valley-based educationists expressed reservations over rushing through the decision.

Education Minister, Mohammad Altaf Bukhari Saturday confirmed to The Kashmir Monitor that the decision to shift the exams to March session would be implemented “from current (academic) session”.

“There would be four term examinations in the academic year and in March there would be annual examination like we have in Jammu,” Bukhari said.

Counting the ‘advantages’ of holding annual exams in March, Bukhari said: “The competitive examination aspirants would not have to wait for six months. Besides, March session would curb the menace of private coaching to a large extent”.

However, noted educationist, Prof A G Madhosh opined against shifting the exams to March session at all.

Madhosh believed that “the present system (November session of exams) is good” and said that “the benefits that the government counts by shifting the exam session to March would not be attained.”

“Has the government conducted any single examination in March in the last 10 years?” asked Madhosh.

“The schools do not open even till March ending nowadays. To add to that, the unrest in the schools of late,” he added.

Over the Education Minister claiming that the March session would curb private coaching, Madhosh said, “I would congratulate them if the coaching is done away with it, but that would not happen.”

Madhosh, in fact, believed that private coaching “has relevance”.

“It is a need. A student has to be resourceful. Any resource in the form of coaching available to the students asks to be exploited. What is the objection you are holding against it. The coaching is holding a promise against money. You are investing money and you are getting dividends in return. What else do you want?” he added.

Professor Siddiq Wahid, a leading academician suggested that the government should “absolutely not rush” in shifting the exams to March session.

“To take a call whether the exam session should be switched should be left to the educational administrators not the government per se. Government gives a statement. It is the task of the professionals in educational administrative wings to say whether it is suitable or not,” he said.

“It cannot be a political decision…It has to be a decision that is made with a reason and once the reason is clarified then we can say yes or no. Why should we make the change in air?” asked Prof Wahid.

He wanted the educational administrators to “put up a rationale” whether the exam session was at all to be shifted.

“The arguments and counter arguments are something that need to be discussed. What is troublesome in the current situation is that everybody follows an order. And the discussion for it takes place later. First, the discussion should take place.”

While the government was supposed to “institute laws, but they cannot participate in micromanaging an educational system,” Prof Wahid argued.

“What is the guarantee that a Minister for Education or Minister for Health is an educational or a health professional? That is not necessarily right? That is why we have bureaucrats.” he said.

 “The whole thing is that the system has broken down. And now we only have decisions and no rationale,” Prof Wahid lamented.

He also debunked the perception that switching the exam session would check private coaching.

“The coaching can end only if the schools, whether government or private improve. It cannot end because the government changes the schedule,” Prof Wahid said.

“There is no reason the coaching should stop… I think if the schools run properly and if the teachers teach properly in the schools, then (only) there is no need for private coaching,” he added.

Ex-Secretary Board of School Education, B A Dar rebutted the Education Minister’s claim that under the March session of exams the students would not have to wait too much for appearing in various competitive examinations.

On the contrary, Dar said that under the November session, “the competitive examination aspirants get sufficient time for preparation”.

 “Like the class 12 exams were declared in January, so they get a sufficient 3-4 months for preparing for the exams. Now under the March session, they would get a lesser time to prepare. This is not a valid argument in favour of this (switching the exam session),” Dar argued.

Dar, however, believed that the March session would “do away with the practice of private coaching”.

Before taking any decision, Dar said that the government “should do some groundwork to find out what academic calendar suits us”.

“It should not be at the whims of a minister or the bureaucrats. There should be a consultative committee in this regard,” he added.