Board exams in education

Context:  Delhi University announced the first list of admission into undergraduate programmes earlier this month and the cut-offs reached 100 per cent mark in some courses offered by a few colleges.

What is the state of higher education in India?

  • According to the most recent All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE 2018-19), Delhi’s gross enrolment ratio (GER) is 46.3 per cent, this means that almost every second youth in Delhi between the age of 18 and 23 is enrolled in a higher education programme.
  • According to India’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030 and the National Education Policy 2020 target, we are aiming to ensure 100 per cent enrollment across our school stages, from pre-primary to the secondary stage.
  • There will be a further rise in applications for higher education programmes for which the NEP 2020 has set a target of 50 per cent by 2035 which would mean an additional 35 million seats to be created in HEIs across the country.
  • Rise in unemployed graduates due to poor education quality and absence of skills in youth.
  • There is a mismatch in the ratio of colleges and regulating universities leading to regulator challenges. For ex- 40000 colleges being regulated under by 1000 universities.

How will multidiscipline HEI improve Higher education ecosystem?

  • NEP 2020 recommends moving into a multi-disciplinary HEIs. This would improve the education ecosystem in the following way:
  • This will offer undergraduate and graduate programmes in every district of the country.
  • Each such institute will aim to have 3,000 or more students.
  • Improve access to higher education and will also make HEIs viable.
  • Provide access to 70 million students when the GER of Higher education reaches 50 per cent.
  • This will also allow for closing down of thousands of poor quality HEIs, which trap unsuspecting students, leading to a large number of non-entrepreneurial, unskilled and unemployable graduates.

What is the alternative to cut-offs?

  • School leaving marks have been inefficient in assessing the overall performance of a student. An alternative system should include:
  • School-leaving certificates should contain a collection of assessments, including a student’s performance across the secondary level (Classes IX to XII).
  • Inclusion of class assignments and tests in the assessments will ensure development of students’ portfolios.
  • The process of admission to higher education should also assess whether the prospective student has developed the attributes for pursuing higher education.

Way forward

    • NEP 2020 envisages assessment reform at the school level, which would make the board exams redundant, and also a common entrance for the liberal arts-based higher education system, which only assesses an applicant’s preparedness to pursue a university education. We need to go with these reforms at the earliest.
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