The Tamil Nadu government today withdrew an order to hold public exams for Classes 5 and 8, bringing relief to school students across the state. The rollback was announced by State Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan, who had until recently been adamant on implementing the November order.
The proposed system would have also resulted in the scrapping of the existing detention-free annual exam meant for assessing students only on the basis of the final term curriculum. The revised system would have tested students on everything they studied through the year.
The announcement evoked mixed reactions from students because many of them had already reconciled themselves to the new format and started preparing for it. While Ezhil Malar -- a Class 5 student at the Doveton Girls Higher Secondary School -- was overjoyed by the cancellation of the examinations, her classmate Charulatha confessed to being disappointed. "I was not scared of the examination because I had prepared well for it. I am not happy," she told NDTV.
Another student, Jeslin, said that the new system would have put them under immense pressure. "Studying the first, second and third term portions all over again would have been difficult. Also, we would have had to go to other schools to take the exams, which would have been very taxing."
Teachers said that while they were ready to help the children through, the parents were understandably unwilling to put their children through examination-related stress so early in school. "We did not feel it was necessary for Class 5 and 8 to face public exams either. It is too early. What they do in class the whole year is enough. A child can't be tested with just a three-hour paper," said Christabel Rajasekaran, headmistress of the Doveton Girls Higher Secondary School.
According to the opposition, the new system was just an attempt by the ruling AIADMK government to toe the BJP-ruled centre's line of mandating such public exams and scrapping the detention-free system through amendments to the Right to Education Act. "At least now, our AIADMK rulers should be firm. They should strongly oppose the new education police and assert the state's rights," tweeted DMK chief MK Stalin.
Over the years, Tamil Nadu has adopted a progressive approach to making school education less stressful. Although a key measure in this direction was the scrapping of entrance examinations for medical and engineering admissions, the introduction of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test threw a spanner in the works. Although the ruling AIADMK has not been able to convince the centre to withdraw the test, the party says it is in principle committed to its abolition.