The current pandemic has not only left families worried on account of infections but also students of class XII who were set to appear for board exams. Bowing to pressure from parents, students, and academicians alike, the government decided to call off the board exams of class XII for CBSE and later, ICSE and most other state boards followed suit. While students and parents felt happy, for their safety issue in the wake of the pandemic addressed through the cancellation of exams, the new criterion for evaluation is set to increase their worries now. As the exams got cancelled, and post direction by the Supreme Court, the government representing CBSE and ICSE submitted to the court a new criterion for evaluation which considers:
The Pre-Board exams
Class XI scores.
This is set to raise eyebrows as a vast majority of students do not score well in their class XI. It is worth noting that school exams such as class XI and pre-boards are not uniformly marked across schools, some schools being tougher as compared to the Board’s marking which is not just uniform but a more lenient one. For schools which are harsh on marking in pre-boards and class XI, their students will be put at disadvantage compared to peers who may have a liberal assessment.
The problem is not just for the students but colleges and universities alike. The delay in results has already put stress on the academic calendar. With the new norm for evaluation, institutions like Delhi University, which admits students based on class XII marks, must be equally perplexed about the quality of admissions. Admissions to all the major Universities and colleges depend on the board results, which in the new scheme of things, if done on merit, is set to put a meritorious student at disadvantage. Any experienced person will vouch for the fact that a high score in board exams does not necessarily translate into knowledge. For the same reason, top Universities across the world prefer an entrance exam as the sole criteria or a mix of merit and entrance for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses. While one may argue the complexities involved, the merits and demerits, an entrance exam outweighs the merit-based system by several notches. Not only entrance exams ensure a level playing field to the candidates but also the colleges and universities, an opportunity to gauge the aptitude and entrance of the candidate.
While for almost half a decade, the government has been contemplating a uniform admission process for Colleges and Universities, it was in December 2020, it proposed a Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET Exam) from 2021, which was to replace the merit-based system and remove the flaws involved. Despite the committee recommendations, the exam has not been notified yet. While a few in the academic circles attribute the same to the pandemic, let us not forget that exams like JEE and NEET, taken by more than 10 lakhs students will be held anyways, even if after a couple of months. These exams only account for a smaller proportion of admissions to the higher institutes whereas a majority will look forward to undergraduate courses in Universities and Colleges.
The CUCET Exam, if implemented properly, has the potential to remove a vast majority of individual entrances by different Universities and may also be accepted by state Universities. Many Universities will prefer to conduct an entrance exam in the backdrop of the current evaluation mechanism, which will leave the students exposed to the virus as they are less than 18 years of age and have not been vaccinated yet and writing multiple entrances increase the chances of infection. The Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) will address the multiple problems at the same time.
Its time student’s aspiration is put to priority and ensure a fair mechanism is given to them for college admissions. Agree or not, CUCET has the potential to address the ills of our education system, most, if not all.