As soon as the papers draw in, worries set in every candidate’s mind. How to prepare for the paper? How to learn the answers? How to attempt the paper? How to score good grades? In the maze of these questions, sleepless nights and worrisome days start. As soon as the papers are over, the time spent in classrooms fails to leave any mark on candidates' mind and only good grades are left to show to the world a proof of schooling. Our evaluation system, which triggers competition among the students, only drives the students towards unfair means to win grades. The unfair means, cheating, is again in limelight now, but in a digitized version.
Those were the days when the only way to use unfair means in an examination hall was keeping a cheat sheet or peeping out on other students’ papers. What happened in Sindh during the recent intermediate examination is, however, another story. Candidates had their mobile phones during paper that they used to cheat. They were allegedly encouraged by their invigilators and teachers to join certain WhatsApp groups, where they would be provided answers to the questions during the papers and for this, every student was supposed to pay Rs5,000 to the administrators of the said groups.
Where does this all come from? What leads to such a shameful situation? The simple answer to these questions is our evaluation system that checks a candidate’s memory and their ability to write down answers from the textbooks. Creativity or conceptual understating of the topics is not assessed. Bertrand Russell said, “Men are born ignorant not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” It simply means that we are not growing into creativity but out of it. An education system, where the merit of being intelligent is good grades and not the creativity, a system that values grades more than student’s learning, a system where teachers are more focused on covering the entire syllabus in the due time rather than making sure students are able to consume it well or not, will result in such incidents.
Our evaluation system is not much different from the education system. Elbert Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but training of the mind to think.” In our system, some books are chosen and all the questions in exams come from those books or sometimes even a few chapters of those books. This makes students rely on just that little piece of knowledge either right or wrong and paralyze them from thinking out of the box and use their best ability, the ability to quench their curiosity to learn new things from different aspects. Our system draws a line outside the mind, and makes us stuck to reach that line either by hook or crook and not to go out of that line. It makes us so much entwined into getting good grades by creating competition that the students are not able to think creative.
When the education system and the examination system fail to cause enough destruction, then comes the turn of marking or evaluation, which entirely focuses on what handouts were provided to the students and how better did they wrote them. There are no specific guidelines provided to the concerned authorities about evaluation. How good or bad grades a student gets, depends on how good or bad the mood of the person checking their papers is. It also involves the factor of likeness or dislikeness, more clearly favoritism. The students who are more into the eyes of teachers as obedient or efficient get edge on the others. It is due to this unfair marking system that we keep hearing news about students committing suicide or protesting against education board time and again.
On Sept 8, 2015, hundreds of intermediate students staged a violent protest outside the Balochistan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BBISE) against the alleged irregularities in the FA and FSc results in Quetta. Right after a year, in 2016, hundreds of students took to the streets of Lahore to protest against the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), accusing it of “unjust marking” in exams.
There are such many corrupted, bad, unjustified and inappropriate ways to encounter education in our educational system, too, that must be pointed out on strict basis at once, as education is guarantee to a nation's bright future and if even the guarantee is not certain, the success will be mere a philosophy.