A conference of university vice-chancellors held in Lucknow last week decided to introduce a “mix of objective and descriptive type of questions” in examinations at college and university-level from next year to simplify the work of evaluators.
This move is surprising. Here’s why:
First, the academicians must realise that by weaning students away from the process of writing (descriptive answers), they are stifling their creative development.
Can this be allowed in higher education when talent can only be assessed by a person’s ability to argue, debate or form and express opinions?
Second, the problem of cheating in school examinations is gnawing away at the roots of the education system in UP. Out of 60,61,034 candidates who registered for the high school and intermediate examinations in the state, 5,94,503 dropped out because they were unable to cheat due to strict vigilance (1,862 examinees were caught copying). To expect the rest who will go into colleges soon to give one-word answers or write a ‘yes’or ‘no’ to make the life of an evaluator easy shows a shocking lack of concern for their development as people with the ability to think and grow.
Third, India’s top universities and even its best research institutes are failing to make it to top 100 of globally acclaimed institutes because their research output does not match up with the best. What kind of intellectual capital will the state create if it does not push students to put in a little more effort in exams and not test their creative prowess through their writing and their ability to express opinions?
The big bosses of India’s higher education sector should realise that the answer to improving the system will not lie in making the life of evaluators simple, but by making the life of students little bit difficult – by pushing them to work hard to build a better future for themselves.