The ‘tough’ mathematics paper in the CBSE’s Class 12 exam has again brought to the centre stage the wisdom of making optional the Class 10 board exam for students. It was the UPA government’s decision.
The minister concerned, Kapil Sibal, had then said that the board exams were not always the “right measure” of a student’s talent. It is true students of the age of 15-16 are temperamentally not often suited to appear for a very important exam on which much of their future depends. This is particularly true for students with a less affluent background.
Many of them tend to give up education after failing in the Class 10 exam. But there can be a counter-argument also.
The Class 10 exam is a relatively simple affair, not only in the case of the CBSE but some other state boards also. And it was seen to prepare the soil for students to get ready for tougher exams, including the competitive ones. It is for this reason that there are reports of making it mandatory again.
The general complaint about the Class 12 maths paper was that it had a high proportion of tough questions, which is against the norm that the board follows in question setting.
If this is a fallout of a change in policy, the board owes an explanation to the candidates because to appear for the IIT entrance exam, a minimum level of marks is necessary. If a student has prepared for his exam keeping a certain format in mind, it is unfair to expect him to perform equally well in a changed format.
Should the CBSE consider bringing back the mandatory Class 10 exam, it can introduce a reformed structure.
For instance, there can be two types of physics courses of different standards, and students can take just one of them though opting for the easier variety may deprive them of the chance to take up science in Class 11.
Similarly, for Class 12 there can be two papers in mathematics, though the courses could be the same. If a student finds at some stage of his plus two course that a career in science or engineering is not up his street, he could appear in the simpler maths test. This way a lot of embarrassment can be avoided.