(Mint, 20 August, 2015: States ask Centre to revoke no-fail policy, restore Class X exam. If accepted, the move will affect more than 190 million school students)
The BJP is likely to lose the support of 189 million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and fifty school students, all of them potential future voters, if Smriti Irani scraps the no-fail policy that allowed millions to snooze their way up to Class IX. The other 50 students are nerds who love giving exams.
“I had great hopes from this government,” lamented a young moron who had flunked three years in Class IX. “I was hoping they would extend the no fail policy right up to Class XII,” he added, breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably. “There, there,” consoled his friend, passing him a flask, “a few pegs a day take the blues away.”
“Sibal Uncle was so much nicer than Smriti Aunty,” said Sweety, a tiny tot. “In six years’ time, when we get to vote, you think we’ll forgive them for the agony they caused us?” thundered Guddu from Class VIII. “I was a great fan of the prime minister,” said Bunty, “especially when he made those tall promises about exporting teachers.
But we’ve been waiting impatiently for a year for our teachers to be exported. And now they drop this bombshell about having to pass exams.” He asked whether they could at least abolish the maths exams. “What on earth is the point of knowing the square root of sixteen is nine?” he said bitterly.
The opposition cuts across the ideological divide. A right-wing student said the government must go back to India’s age-old system of education with rishis and munis, where nobody failed and they didn’t have exams.
“That’s the reason why it was called the Guru-cool system,” he said. He added Smriti Irani wanted to subject them to the same torture she had suffered during school exams. “We must have somebody who flunked school as education minister,” he said, “someone with empathy for our problems.”
There are some dissenting voices.
“Unless we have exams how will we distinguish between smart people like me and the idiots?” asked an insufferable geek, looking up briefly from her book on quantum mechanics. She was shouted down by protestors, who held up signs reading, “Doun wit eggzams” and “skool stoodents younite, you have nutting to looz but your gradz.”
Teachers have welcomed the move. “I was so tired of taking re-test after re-test to make the little blighters pass,” said a harried teacher.
Others gloated over earning some extra money from private tuitions. A parent hopefully asked whether he would no longer have to climb school walls to pass on notes to his children during the school leaving exams. “Will leaked papers be cheaper now?” he queried anxiously.
But the principal came down firmly on the side of the kids. “If the clever students of our generation, those who passed every exam with flying colours, have brought the nation to this miserable state, maybe it’s time to give the duffers a chance to run the country instead,” she said.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal