Despite the pandemic unleashing in full force, the issue over holding or postponing board examinations is being debated.
- While there are valid concerns about the future, which include admissions to higher educational institutions, the possibility of holding exams in person poses a further threat to the lives of people.
- The National Curriculum Framework of 2005 affirms the importance of embracing the emotional, social, physical and intellectual growth of children within a framework of human values.
- Therefore, a question to consider is whether academic performances can continue to be the sole representation of student growth.
- Alternatively, student success can be redefined based on social, emotional and spiritual development benchmarks.
- Raising the quality of educational assessments and evaluations by involving higher educational institutions may even prevent a mass exodus to international universities so that young leaders can be nurtured to engage with underlying national challenges and add value by sustaining the fabric of a diverse and non-stratified India.
- Virtual educational committees must be organised to rethink approaches to assessing student learning.
- Question papers must be designed in a way that encourages students to critically engage with the material, contest perspectives and build opinions.
- Right to education that affirms the importance of formative assessments, teachers could be invited to engage in evaluating student’s performance across the year.
- If there are concerns around the tendency of schools to self-bolster their performance, reports, portfolios, samples of responses and grades could be shared across a pool of schools so that teachers can anonymously assess and provide insightful feedback on student performance, until a sense of self-accountability and trust can be cultivated.
- Evaluating students on their performance through the year will contribute towards making evaluation and learning much more holistic.
- Inviting higher educational institutions to facilitate online entrance exams could be another option. Eventually, the goal could be to involve students in self and peer evaluations.
The pandemic presents an opportunity to redefine meaningful education even though it requires a concerted change across the curriculum in K-12 schools, the entrance criteria determined by higher educational institutions. Viewing this crisis as a signal for urgent change, core issues can be engaged with and re-evaluated to prevent students from being trapped in the current system of cramming, rote learning and anxiety. The government needs to give complete autonomy to educational committees composed of students, teachers, educational leaders, scholars and researchers who can advocate, organise and implement this change nationally and internationally. Re-imagining educational assessments and evaluations, exploring alternatives is the need of the hour.