In an attempt to reduce the burden of exams, Maharashtra’s primary directorate of education has banned schools from taking part in talent searches and competitive tests conducted by private agencies. Students can only participate in government-approved and internal tests.
The ban comes amid concerns that schools impose multiple tests on students to prepare them for “competition”. Many Mumbai schools ask students to take 10 to 12 additional tests, in addition to the regular exams, putting tremendous pressure on them.
The circular, issued on January 7, asks officials to ensure schools — irrespective of their managements — do not take private tests, without permission from the state government.
“We are putting a permanent ban on private illegal talent search or competitive exams,” states the circular issued by Govind Nandede, director of primary education.
“Such exams increase the exam stress on students and parents have to pay hefty charges.”
There is no provision for conducting such exams in the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, states the circular.
The move has evoked mixed response from schools and parents. “Schools are competing with each other to see who offers most tests. It has become a status symbol or USP for them,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School (ICSE), Mazagaon.
Often, students are asked to attend classes before or after schools and on weekends, which tires them, said experts. “A child’s brain gets exhausted after processing too much information. It leads to fatigue and burnout,” said Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist.
Some schools said instead of a complete ban, the department should restrict the number of tests. “These tests are important as they focus on skills and help students understand where they stand,” said Kavita Aggarwal, chief academic advisor, JBCN School, Oshiwara.
Avnita Bir, principal, RN Podar School (CBSE), Santacruz, said additional tests are unnecessary now that the government has started baseline tests. “One or two additional tests should suffice,” said Bir.