Among the major reforms introduced by the JAB, the eligibility criteria of minimum 60% score in aggregate in the XII board exams, will have far reaching implications for JEE aspirants across the country. It is a well known fact that scoring 60% in CBSE and ICSE board exams is not a very tough proposition. On the other hand securing 60% in any State Board exam can be more difficult. In states like West Bengal, Bihar & U.P., hardly 20% to 25% students get a first class in their class XII board exams. None of these Intermediate and HS councils are likely to overhaul their grading system to enable a large section of their students to qualify for the IITJEE. Students studying in rural areas across the country are mostly following State Boards. Thus the idea of helping the rural based students by bringing in this new eligibility criterion will prove to be more of a constraint to them.
If the Ministry of HRD is really serious about making IIT or for that matter any good institute accessible to rural students then it should think of bringing in major reforms in the 10 +2 system itself. Instead of having 36 state boards and 2 national level boards with differing syllabi and grading system, it makes sense to have just one XII board in the country. Only this can ensure uniformity in the marking system of class XII board exam across the country. To some extent this can reduce the handicap faced by the students belonging to rural areas.
Linking IITJEE to board exams is a good proposition in itself, but just focusing on IITJEE would not serve the intended purpose of de-stressing aspiring students. IITJEE is just one exam that a class XII student has to face amongst a series of exams after XII board if he is aspiring for a seat in a coveted technical institute in the country. For example, AIEEE, State Level Engineering Entrance Tests, and other institute based exams. The preparation and pressure of each of these exams put enormous stress on most of the students. So if the ministry of HRD thinks that by just reforming IITJEE, it will be able to reduce the stress levels of the students in the country, then obviously they have not given a good thought on the subject.
The ideal situation would be to have only one national XII board in the country, which conducts the exam with a uniform grading system. The scores of that exam can become the basis for entry into a professional or any higher academic course. It can have separate optional papers for judging the aptitude and analytical skills of all engineering aspirants in the country. Depending on the score in this paper and the student’s preference of streams and institutes, he or she should be allocated to various colleges across the country. This can not only save students from undue stress but can also save a huge wastage of national resources by avoiding duplicity of effort in conducting numerous entrance examinations.
Unsurprisingly, the govt. has tried to display its phony concern for reducing study related stress in school students at large by tweaking a few rules for one exam, when, there is a need for some careful contemplations and bold initiatives to overhaul the ailing archaic system. Question standards of IITJEE for the past few decades were set unreasonably high which even an M.Sc. would find difficult to answer. Cracking IITJEE became much of an art which required special inputs, much higher than the level of school curriculum. This resulted in students flocking to coaching institutes. The pressure on students to follow two parallel systems led to increase in stress. Even after realizing this problem very late, the government. seems uncommitted to hit at the crux. Providing equal opportunity to rural and less privileged students aspiring for IIT by merely a few reforms in IITJEE is clearly an eyewash as the government has miserably failed to bring up the education level of rural India even after more than 55 yrs of independence. Instead of accepting its own failings it chose to cry hoarse over the mushrooming of coaching institutes. Off late, a few of these coaching institutes have organized itself into a structured institution having nation wide presence. Failure of the government to provide quality education in schools and in rural areas is helping this service sector thrive.
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