The Maharashtra government recently dropped the word ‘failed’ from the mark sheets of the Class 10 and 12 exams. While psychologists said that the move would mark a shift in society’s perception of academically weak students, academic experts claim that the success of the move would depend on its implementation.
The state school education department issued a government resolution on August 30 stating that the board would not mention ‘failed’ on the marksheets of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC). It will instead declare candidates as being promoted with ATKT (allowed to keep term), eligible for re-exams or only for skill-development programmes, depending on the number of subjects they cleared.
The idea was the brainchild of state education minister Vinod Tawde who felt that this will reduce the number of drop-outs at secondary and higher secondary level. “The ‘failure’ tag demoralises students. They get labelled as failures and lose out on a year. Also, according to a crime report most of the dropouts turn to crime,” said Tawde.
Welcoming the announcement, city psychiatrists said that with this, academically weak students would be protected from the negative connotation and depression surrounding the word ‘failure’. “Stigma cannot be shattered only with one blow, multiple initiatives are needed but this will gradually change the thought process surrounding failure,” said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, Dr LH Hiranandani Foundation Hospital, Powai.
He also said that students consider failing a board exam as the end of their lives but positive messages on their marksheets would encourage them.
“If the marksheet reads that you are eligible for re-exam, the examinee will focus on clearing the next exam and not wallow in the past,” said Shetty.
A similar initiative was taken by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) a few years ago when they replaced marks with grades. “If a student does not clear a subject, they are considered eligible for compartment exams,” said Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School in Santacruz.
Bir added that one yardstick is not sufficient to measure students’ performance. “All students are not good at academics but they might prove excellent in vocational courses. We need to ensure that vocational courses get the same kind of respect as academics,” said Bir.
Some of the academic experts said that the success of the initiative would depend on its implementation. “Courses should be designed in such a way that it increases the employability of the students and provides them with a degree on its completion,” said Basanti Roy, former divisional secretary of the Maharashtra state board.