March session for school level examinations is official now in Kashmir valley. Consequently, the valley based students —from the primary to the secondary level — will write their 2022 annual exams in March 2023. The big decision calls for a dispassionate analysis keeping in view the fact that this all-important educational activity will follow a winter vacation of more than two months. Will the students do well then? Not an easy question to answer.
It has arguably been a tough task to conduct all the annual exams in October-November/December. Preparing for these exams certainly would put a lot of pressure both on the students and teachers. While the former had to learn things, revise them and sit in the examination hall in the winter chill, the latter had to complete the hard job and the syllabi under all circumstances. The new academic session would normally begin immediately or after sometime.
End of the examinations. The students—mostly of the secondary schools—would be seen flocking to coaching centres across the length and breadth of the valley. While this scenario is seen as a rich source of revenue for these centres providing education, it would deal a big blow to the reputation and purpose of building educational institutions worth millions of rupees. Schools (government and private) are a seat of mass literacy and compulsory education. For this crores of rupees are incurred as expenses each month. What if coaching centres replace them? One may argue that the coaching centres supplement education; not a bad idea. Yet they are no substitute to schools in educating children— particularly secondary and higher secondary school students. Not having schools is like sitting in a bus without its tyres and driver.
Conducting of exams in March signals that little coaching is likely to take place, particularly in winter months now, a development which looks set to cast a positive impact on our society in its last analysis. Students will no longer experience tough times in travelling to coaching centres and back home in the biting January chill. That too on an empty stomach. And gone will be the case of completing full or more than half of the prescribed syllabi in the winter months. Sitting at home with their courses already done, the students will be better placed to prepare well for the exams.
Agreed that a possibility is that children, mostly those at the elementary level, might not make the better use of the winter vacation. Their wastage of time could lead to poor performance by them in March. Evidently, their parents can play a key role here. In case they don’t, under performance by the students can result.
Parents too should feel relaxed. Not only will the shift of the examination schedule save them enough money (spent on coaching for academic exams) but it will also enable them to spend this saved money on any other fruitful task. Moreover, the parents shall no more remain under pressure to arrange thousands of rupees so that their children are able to seek admission in a coaching academy. The step can significantly increase the saving capacity of the poor parents.
The shift in the session should also go well with teachers because they now shall no longer feel irrelevant in terms of providing education. On one side, they will now be under more pressure to complete the syllabi well in time and to ensure better learning achievements by students. On the other hand, they can now get opportunities to display their treasure of talent – the talent which was finding little scope to bloom. The shifting scenario will apply to the secondary school and higher secondary school teaching personnel particularly. Why? Because the results of these institutions always remain in public eye.
Speaking of the impact of the session shift on the new academic and attendance situation at schools, it is crystal clear now that the teaching work at schools shall begin almost at the same time for all students —elite or non-elite. No teacher probably shall manage to enjoy truancy now, feeling no pressure to perform. The pressure to complete the prescribed courses will be enough to induce civic sense and do away with the ‘I don’t care attitude’ among a section of teachers. Thus passion for performance is likely to steal the show in future.
The fear of completing the syllabi is also believed to see more students at schools punctually and regularly. This will have an added advantage: we can create an inclusive classroom made of the students of all social strata who will sit at the same place and receive education from the same source. No bias, no prejudice. In such a situation, a healthy competition at the level playing field can take the centre stage.
(The Author is a teacher by profession and RK Columnist. He can be reached on: Sheikhshabir518@gmail.com)