State Education Minister Vasant Purke has done it again. With the future of his pet project, the eight 'baseline tests' every year in schools looking grimmer than ever, Purke has found a new way to burden students - if schools don't want tests, there will be state board exams for Classes 4 and 7.
Following stiff opposition from parents and schools, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had stayed the controversial baseline tests on July 26. A fortnight later, the Bombay High Court did the same. However, Purke is hell-bent on introducing more tests.
Hailing former education minister Ramakrishna More's 2003 proposal to hold board exams for Class 4 students, Purke said he would consider this as an alternative to baseline tests. "If we have board exams, then there's no need for tests," he said on Wednesday. According to Purke, the new board exams would allow the Education Department to monitor students' performance and "improve the quality of education."
Parents' and teachers' associations, however, vehemently disagree. Their reaction: the proposal is "absurd, stupid, impractical." "While the world's view is that there should be fewer exams, Purke is stuck on an outdated idea of more exams," said Ramesh Joshi, general secretary of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Teacher's Union (BMTU). Joshi had filed a petition challenging baseline tests after their implementation in civic schools last year.
The Parents-Teachers Association United Forum (PTAUF) now plans to drag the state government to court again. It had done the same three years ago when the proposal of board exams for Class 4 first came up. "We obtained a stay. Now they want board exams again. It's ridiculous," said PTAUF President Arundhati Chavan.
"This is just not done. There's already too much pressure on children. They are penalising children for poor education standards," said Jyoti Kadnekar, whose son studies in Class 2 in Lokmanya Vidyamandir at Mahim.