Why SEBA couldn’t convince the government to hold an HSLC exam
After much discussion, deliberation and speculation, the government decided not to hold the secondary school leaving certificate exam in Assam. What is the meaning of the HSLC exam? Apparently that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It doesn’t help you find a good job. It only helps you to get admitted to a good academic institution for your upper secondary classes. But it is the most beloved and celebrated exam of all academic exams. Why shouldn’t he be?
It is above all a great marker of a university career. There was a time when being registered was a great qualification. A graduate in a village was someone who was highly respected and who was able to master the Assamese language and the English language with equal ease. People thronged to their homes asking for their help in drafting all kinds of requests. It’s all gone now. Forget about enrollment, most graduates and even postgraduates can’t write a page in English and Assamese well these days.
This is the state of education today. But, for the moment, that is not the problem. The problem is the graduation exam itself. School education is the foundation of education. Ideally, it should give a good foundation to a student in the general disciplines of arts and sciences. In addition, he should train a student in language learning. Language learning is vital because it is the gateway to any branch of knowledge. How a student qualifies in all of this is judged by their performance on the graduation exam.
The final examination is therefore of great importance for a pupil and her parents. This is an ambitious exam for students. The fact that this is an ambitious review is evident from the responses and reactions of students, parents and society at large. The day of the exam results is considered a great occasion. After the announcement of the results, newspapers and television stations deal with it for days. All of this will be missed this year as students are banned from taking the exam due to COVID -19. I don’t know what will happen to their grade sheet and the exam certificate this time, which is dear to everyone.
The graduation exam is organized by the Assam Council for Secondary Education (SEBA). Now, what does SEBA think? Have they already made it public? Or do they also think like the government? We do not know. Once, I was a member of SEBA for two terms. SEBA is supposed to function as an independent and autonomous institution. Unfortunately, the SEBA hardly takes any decisions independently. Apart from taking care of routine things, it mainly acts as an executing agency. From time to time, the government sends circulars to SEBA and wants SEBA to act accordingly. SEBA does not have the autonomy and the authority to act independently. Thus, the holding or abolition of the examination was not the prerogative of SEBA. Everything was decided by the government.
Now let’s ask the moot question. Why was SEBA unable to convince the government to organize the review? He should have urged the government to organize the review and sought their support to facilitate it. There was a good precedent for holding the review during the coronavirus. It was nothing other than the elections to the Assembly. If the Assam government could organize the assembly elections by involving the state apparatus, why could it not organize the HSLC review?
Compared to the elections, the HSLC is a smaller event. It is not that the government is not able to conduct this review. If he wishes, he can easily organize the exam. The point is, he has no intention of doing so. And why involve ASSU and other student bodies here? If you want to know what the candidates think, ask some of them and their parents directly. And now they have formed committees to decide how to pass the students without taking the exam.
Let me say loud and clear that you cannot have any scientific and objective modality of student success and failure without a continuous and comprehensive assessment system. It is not possible. If CCE had been practiced in schools, the assessment of student performance without taking the exam could have been done for a song.
But, you can’t do it now with any modality because you don’t have this system running in schools. If the current crisis teaches you a lesson and you do your utmost to implement the EAC in schools, that would indeed only be a good thing for the future. But from now on, everything seems to be a bundle of confusion. In the current crisis, our old friend, Minister of Education Ranoj Pegu, had the opportunity to prove his courage by organizing the exam. But, unfortunately, he missed it. Given the availability of space and manpower, we should have gone for the HSLC exam. It shouldn’t have been a big deal to go with proper planning and preparation. That we weren’t able to do this is a sad commentary on SEBA and the Department of Education.