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The ‘guinea pigs’?

education Updated: May 21, 2013 18:22 IST
Chaudhary Ali Mardan Khan
Chaudhary Ali Mardan Khan
Hindustan Times
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If the class of 2013 graduating from school pens an autobiography, there will be a consensus on the concluding sentence: “And, unfailingly, we all, graduated finally from the not-so-coveted position of The Guinea Pig (experimented upon) batch till 2013.”

All through our school years, the newspapers were sporadically strewn with debates touching various domains and reforms which were hastily introduced in the form of elimination of board exams in Class 10, greater stress on practical skills through CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation), formulation of a common entrance test for engineering and recently DU’s four-year programme, to name a few. All corroborative evidences of us being those who were experimented upon. It would not be wrong to assert that our batch was nothing short of guinea pigs (in a proverbial sense) in the educational system.

Ironically, in our school lives, a golden-veil-covered platter of reforms was served with half-baked ideas, highly publicised as being “revolutionary”, with a common purpose of alleviating stress which in turn elevated stress due to inadequate information, confused officials, and mid-session alteration in examination patterns.

Our weekly edit meet thus concluded with penning of the topic as, The Guinea Pig Batch. The CJs of 2013, in today’s edition, write on how they believe themselves to be the sacrificial lambs, and analyse the impact of the sudden revamping of processes. Believe me, today we are not making any reform or any educationalist draw flak, we are just expressing our opinions and tribulations, after all, we all did fare well through those turbulent times of ambiguity and erroneous reforms.

Today, Vritti Gandhi, the “zodiac google” talks about her unpredictable encounters with the absence of Class 10 board exams. Prem Tripathi, an aspiring fighter pilot, elaborates on his manoeuvres and close shaves with the Common Entrance Test. Kritika Narula, the star student, takes note of the four-year DU programmes. Jasmine Bhalla mentions her experiments with project files and presentations because of CCE. Geetika Ahuja, a budding writer, narrates her anecdote about how the last-minute cancellation of the CATE (Common Aptitude Test for English) altered her dream. Tarana Faroqi, a to-be lawyer, coherently debates the value-based question. Ummang Sharma, an aspiring film director, envisions the impact of the compulsory subject selections in DU and I, Chaudhary Ali, express my opinions on the explicit impact of introducing negative markings in entrance tests and the philosophy behind them.

Readers, look back, join the dots and analyse the larger picture. I am sure most of you will find yourself on the same wavelength as us...and you will conclude, “We were indeed the batch of the guinea pigs”.

Being in the editor’s shoes was no cake walk. However, with the help of my team of CJs, we made it

1. Setting up the edit meet
The eight campus journalists (CJs) brainstormed various ideas and chose the guinea pigs topic. Ironically, I was the guinea pig then, and became the (second) editor of the week

2. Theme of the week
The CJs write and cite examples to show that they were the “guinea pigs till 2013”

3. Tasks set out
CJs were told to pour their hearts out, explain the stumbling blocks that came their way with the sudden change in processes

4. The most disciplined journo
Disciplined journo? With newly attained freedom from school, finding a disciplined journo is like finding a needle in a haystack

5. Work I did this week
Editing the write-ups, blogging, using Quark for the first time, coordinating with the CJs

6. ...and next week’s editor is
Jasmine Bhalla writes on the exam jitters with little problems in boards you all want to hear about

Chaudhary Ali Mardan Khan
DPS, Indirapuram

Are we lucky or unlucky with the new reforms in CLAT? Negative marking is a boon for some and bane for many. It filters the quality of students cracking the exam because it eliminates chance in the examination. Most believed when confused, circle the C and move on. Absence of luck in CLAT now can be equated with the sudden deflation of a rescue raft on a ship. It is said, aim for the stars and you will reach the sky. With the present negative marking, the sky is reachable, but there is a very high probability that one will get dragged down to the land with the negatives! All in all, the motive is clear, the examiners want us to shun the unproven belief in luck, take charge of our destinies and lead our lives by merit, not by chance

The examiners want us to rather shun the unproven belief in luck

Jasmine Bhalla
St Thomas’ School

When I was about to set foot into Class 10, it was nerve-wracking yet exciting. After all, this was supposed to be the “Board” year, something nobody failed to mention whenever we met. It felt like I had “grown up”. It was later we realised that Boards in Class 10 were getting scrapped for good. This revolutionary change received mixed reactions. Favouring it, many said that the grading system would successfully erase all the anxiety surrounding the Boards. Opponents said that it caught students in an endless loop of daily homework, and projects. Some said that it was an admirable idea with poor execution. All said and done, however, it was the “experimental batch” that bore the brunt of it all

It was the ‘experimental batch’ that bore the brunt of it all

Vritti Gandhi
Holy Child Auxilium School

The mere mention of this word scares people, not unlike the way the mention of Voldemort’s name caused so many wizards to flinch! So when these ended in 2010, not many tried to hide their glee. But as it so happens, this upside, too, had a downside. Having narrowly escaped the dreaded exams in Class 10, there was no getting away in Class 12. Owing to the fact that we were deprived of any experience, our nerves got to us. After all, on these results would lie the very foundation of our careers. For some, this seemed to work as an inspiration, motivating them to perform better than they had ever done. For others, however, the pressure had increased. In any case, ours is a batch that has had to face many changes inflicted upon it these past two-three years. Some have worked, some are yet to be tested...

Ours is a batch that has had to face many changes inflicted upon it

Tarana Faroqi
Sardar Patel Vidyalaya

In 2013, the Central Board of Secondary Education introduced value-based questions in the Boards which proved how everything is experimented on our batch. The main aim of these questions is to asses our “values”. The best thing is that we are being judged on our values. According to some it is “getting marks for free”, as you can write anything and get marks. I think these questions really test our knowledge. Initially, I did not like this idea at all but then as I saw the sample papers and the kind of answers expected from us, I stopped hating it. My English paper had a question related to Mahatma Gandhi, which was easy. So, overall I can say that it’s not such a challenge but not an easy thing either

The main aim of these questions is to assess our “values”

Geetika Ahuja
Summer Fields School

CATE, CJET (Combined Journalism Entrance Test) scrapped! I couldn’t believe that the entrance exams I had been pinning my hopes had been quashed. I couldn’t believe that our batch had been treated as guinea pigs again. If animal testing is unethical, experimenting every year on our batch doesn’t seem ethical either. After my Boards didn’t go well, I knew CATE and CJET could be my saving grace. Now instead of the entrance exam scores, admission to these courses will be based on our percentage. English honours requires a sound knowledge of English literature and journalism, a flair for writing. With the Board results being so unpredictable, these entrance tests provided a fair chance to students. But this decision has put our future in jeopardy

CATE, CJET scrapped! This has put our future in jeopardy

Kritika Narula
St Margaret Senior Secondary School

I am surrounded by test tubes chemicals. I can infer they are planning to dissect me. I’ve survived multiple experiments, and hope to remain unscathed this time, too. I am talking about the random musings of the 2013 batch, rightly the proverbial guinea pig. The FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme), as the name suggests, adds a year to our study. It encompasses, inter alia, those much debatable exit options, multifarious exclusions and inclusions in curriculum, a wild-card entry of various subjects as “foundation courses”. Amidst the clouds of impending chaos, I suggest we look for the silver linings. Let’s be sanguine that the next four years will prove to be an enriching experience. I attended a seminar on the same, and returned home convinced about noble intentions, and optimistic about its implementation. And don’t forget, we are made for challenges (rather, challenges are made for us, oh well, never mind!). We are Columbus, always venturing into uncharted territories!

And don’t forget, we are made for challenges

Premanshu Tripathi
Kendriya Vidyalaya, JNU

Union minister Kapil Sibal will always be remembered, as one of the most popular ministers, especially among students. He has immortalised himself among science students with the introduction of the JEE. All the speculation around the new format of the exam came to a halt when the curtains were raised. The CBSE, however, argues that the level of both online and offline papers are the same but I feel, the online papers were tricky. JEE marks do not consist only of the entrance test marks but also 40% of Class 12 marks. The main motive behind introduction of the JEE was to reduce the dependency on coaching centres. So far it has worked well, but it can backfire as well. All that you need to do is to set your goals, believe in yourself, and “things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out”

The online papers of the JEE were very tricky

Ummang Sharma Bajpai
The Indian School

We’re an awesome bunch of kids. And looks like the CBSE thinks that way, too. Why, you ask? Because we’ve been their favourite batch to experiment with! I remember, our books were completely changed every year. So, we used to be without books for some months! And things haven’t changed much. And yet, they’ve changed a lot! With the new DU course structure, there’s a whole range of compulsory subjects we need to take. Now, I’m all for change and new stuff — but one can’t help but feel sceptical! And I feel it’s not the sudden change being imposed on students that’s a threat — in fact, it’s the imposition on teachers that is the issue. Can I learn something from my teachers who opposed it in the last meeting? Neh! Because unless the teacher is comfortable with the course, it’s impossible to make the students comfortable with the subject

I’m all for change...but one can’t help but feel sceptical!