Indian Educational Reforms II – Raising the JEE Eligibility Bar

Mr. Sibal is creating news again, this time it is about raising the bar for students who want to appear for Joint Entrance Examinations (IIT-JEE). Currently any student who has minimum 60% marks in the 12th standard with Science and Mathematics can appear for JEE.

Mr. Sibal is asking the committee to raise this eligibility bar to 80-85 %. The government says that they want to raise the bar not to make it prohibitive, but to squeeze out the hundreds of coaching institutes that sell hope to unrealistic aspirants. Also they want the students to give equal weightage to 12th standard examinations as it is believed that they are the foundation of the students career and life.

Of course coaching institutes who prepare the students for such entrance examinations are unhappy. There is also a confusion where one student group would believe that now they will have to study for two examinations and the other who believe that this is a good step as now they will be judged on an elevated criteria. There is also a mixed reaction from the parents where some believe it is a good step forward as it will save them money and of course the freedom from coaching classes.

Being an engineer myself and having graduated from one of the country’s premier engineering institution, I have learned the hard way that there is a huge gap between the education which is provided by the schools/colleges and that is imparted through the private coaching classes. When we listen, hear or read about any schools results in our community today, I know and strongly believe that the school has acheived a certain result they boast only because their students go to a popular coaching class in the community after school.

The point I want to make is that why cannot the schools help the children the way in which coaching classes are helping the students?

Indian Educational Reforms

It all started with the assignment of the HRD portfolio to Mr.Kapil Sibal. In a couple of months of assuming his post he created a national debate on need of educational reforms and his view of the reforms. Based on his vision CBSE is abolishing the Standard 10th board exam from 2011.

Under the new scheme a grading system will be introduced starting this year and then the students who will appear for the 2010 Standard 10th board exam will be graded based on continuous and constant evaluation from the schools. Though nobody knows what is the meaning of continuous and constant evaluation!

If the students wish to leave one school and join another then it will become compulsory for the student to appear for the online/off-line exam to be held more than once a year for the students. The students will also be able to appear for the exam multiple times to improve the grades. Will this turn out to be a boon or a curse for the students, parents and teachers?

In the documentary 2 Million Minutes researchers from USA surveyed students in India, China and USA. They found that the Indian and Chinese students have the advantage over their American counterparts and they applaud the Indian Education for preparing the students for the 21st century especially our 10th board examination pattern which they explain in their article in details. Although we need to understand that there is a lot of pressure on the students due to this board exam pattern and should welcome a change. The entire change should be well balanced and should be based on a logical thought process based on India’s position in the 21st century.

Also according to the new law Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2008, there will be a 25% reservation in the private and unaided schools for the children from the weaker sections of the society and economically disadvantaged groups. This has also raised a debate in the country on various fronts about how will these groups of children adjust with the elite group of children in the schools. Also there will be a burden on the school based on the fee structures for these poorer children.

The bottom line is that with the advent of educated ministers managing various portfolios in our country we are looking forward to debates which are required if India needs to maintain its position especially in the area of education in the 21st century. I think even if we make the changes which are not right for us at the moment this revolution will help us as a country towards developing a vision for our children in the future. As Albert Einstein once truly said:
“The only person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”.