Mumbai students will have their academic calendar full with examinations, owing to a series of competency tests introduced by the Maharashtra government. While the tests are supposed to measure the skills acquired by students, schools and parents have said it will be a burden to the students.
These tests will have to be held by the schools for students of Classes 1 to 8 in addition to the existing exams. The first of the three tests will be held around August 15. It will test students on previous year’s syllabus for maths and first language. It was earlier scheduled between July 20 and 31, but has now been postponed a little by the government.
Schoolchildren f rom all boards, including CBSE, ICSE and international schools, will be given common questions by the education department. Schools will get individual ratings from A to D depending on their students’ performance in the exam.
“For the first baseline test at least we will supply common question papers to all schools and later on maybe the schools will be asked to design their own tests,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary, school education and sports department.
However, many academicians have criticised the tests; they have said that it adds to the burden of the students.
“Children are already busy answering several tests held by schools throughout the year and now the competency tests will only increase the pressure,” said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai.
Although the government maintained that the tests were only a device to determine the quality of teaching in schools, Shetty said that there are other ways of assessing schools.
Parents are afraid that schools will pressurise students to perform well in the test to get good ratings. “To achieve the best rating, schools might hold extra-classes and coaching for students in addition to the ones already underway,” said Malika Acharya, a parent from Dahisar. “This will leave them with no time to relax or pursue their other interests.”
Some academicians said that there is no point in asking private schools to hold the competency tests. “The quality of education is high in private schools as they are highly competitive and hence have to ensure that the children are learning well,” said Seema Buch, principal, Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli. “These tests would are needed to motivate aided or government schools.”
Many also said that the test results might not be authentic as the government has asked schools to correct the tests themselves. “The government should have asked third parties to conduct the test,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines.
Pathak also added that the government has not yet issued any circulars to the schools to prepare them for the tests.