Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
We can see that every year a large number of candidates cannot come out successful in the HSLC, HS and some other examitions. Even though they pass, many of them do not get brilliant marks. At a time when even 70 percent is not good enough for admission into some of the most sought after institutes, since different institutes have their own stipulated marks for admission, imagition boggles at the thought of the pitiable condition faced by the second and third divisioners. If 70 percent marks are not good enough for admission, turally 40 or 45 percent marks would lead them nowhere. Obviously the best of the candidates are not good enough for some of the elite institutes.
I have read somewhere that in a major and famed US University, the President-elect of the University was given this parting advice by his predecessor, “Treat your ‘A’ student well, because some day he will come back and be a professor. But treat your ‘B’ and ‘C’ student equally well, because some day he will dote you a million —dollar lab.”
The advice is not funny because it has deep and poignt implication. We might also add that someday a B’ or ‘C’ student may join politics and perhaps become a minister and he may make some handsome allowance to the institute where he once studied, but could not fare well. The teachers might have to work under those VIPs, whom they had once ignored and humiliated. These things do happen and none can predict the future in life, though at the time the results were announced, they probably had a devastating impact on the impressioble minds of the unsuccessful candidates.
In our country, including our own state, we applaud and idolize those candidates who secure brilliant marks and achieve distinguished positions in their respective examitions. In diverse places felicitation functions are held to honour the achievers and gifts are showered on them. Then of course they do get computers, laptops etc. from the government in recognition of their brilliant performance. So long only the first divisoners in the HSLC examitions were felicitated with gifts to be encouraged to do better in future and even the second divisioners were given gifts. But I think it if the second divisoners are eligible for these gifts, then why not the third divisoners as well? The poor things too need some encouragement for doing better in the succeeding examitions. For me examition results depend on some luck and some efforts. They by no means judge the intelligence of the students. After all, barring geniuses, all students possess average intelligence, though some may be more industrious and luckier than the others.
Here gifts, bouquets, citations are showered on a section of the students, who have done well in their respective examitions. But in European countries or in the United Sates such felicitations for the brilliant achievers are unheard of. As a result of such extravaganzas in our state, some of the brilliant achievers develop an ego, which will harm them in the long run. Those who get 95 percent marks in the CBSE, or more than 80 percent marks in the HS examitions or get into IITs or IIMs or join the elite civil services or land a lucrative job in a multitiol company, with a six- figure salary, are the persons who seem to have the world at their feet. They are the objects of our adoration and are placed in a pedestal with the world at their feet. In this respect the huge difference between success and failure is too poignt for words. The successful people are only a small fraction of the student population.
But what about those who do not qualify? They fall short of the high category. Some of them fall into deep depression at the thought of a possible dark and uncertain future. The pitiable condition and sad plight of these unsuccessful candidates is a matter of grave concern. There are some who pass their graduate and post-graduate examitions with far less than 50 percent marks. They constitute the majority of our educated young people. Only a very small minority can be placed in the category of brilliant achievers. The families accuse such non-achiever for whiling away their time or look down on them with contempt, and the others consider them a failure as well as liability.
Actually we display an appalling lack of sensibility and imagition in considering these young people who were uble to do well in their respective examitions. We should note that there are many educated young people with a wide range of interests. Some may be interested in art, some may prefer music, some may be interested in photography or some may like to do social work ... and so on. The possibilities are enormous. It is unfortute that parents often impose their will on their children and force them to choose a course, which might be totally against the will and interest of the young person. Parents should not consider their children to be their extensions. They should remember that they are individuals with their own interests and desires. Perhaps if they were allowed to pursue their own interests and inclitions, they would have succeeded magnificently in their chosen line; but as it is, they had to tread the path chalked out by the parents and hence the resulting calamity. These young people may lack the kck of securing brilliant marks in the examition. So what is their future?
A young person, who gets a third or second division in the HSLC examition, may not get admission in any college. Then again, if somehow some mage to pass the HS examition they may not be able to pursue some course of their choice due to poor marks. Then let us suppose that a person has passed his B.A or M.A. examition with less than 50% percent marks, what will these people do? Such persons cannot work in a degree college or university due to poor marks. Now TET (Teachers Eligibility Test) has been introduced to ascertain the merit and ability of the teachers. We hope both the teachers and the students would be benefitted by the test.
Our education system uses harsh methods to asses a certain degree of academic achievement. Yet the fil selection is made entirely on the basis of the performance in the competitive examition without giving the least importance to the marks obtained in the board and the university examitions. Then it does not seem reasoble to insist upon a certain percentage of marks in the board or in the university examitions. If we do that we are depriving our educated young people of an opportunity to prove themselves by not giving them a second chance. There are many examples of persons who could not fare well in the board and university examitions, but did very well and distinguished themselves by brilliant performances in their chosen fields. Hence fewer marks in board and university examitions do not in any way imply a lack of intelligence and examitions cannot always correctly measure the ability of a person. There is another problem. Can we claim that our Boards or Universities are consistent in their standard of evaluation? Can we say that 95 percent marks of class XII in CBSE is comparable to 95 percent marks in the HS examition conducted by the state council? Then 50 percent marks in humanities surely cannot be comparable to 50 percent marks in science and commerce. These are some of the problems faced by the candidates. Regiol variations also pose another problem. Even if we assume that board and university e examitions are a reliable index of measuring the ability of a person, the question remains, what sort of ability do they measure. Do they measure a person’s intelligence, ability, creativity, imagition and the capacity of critical thinking? According to Emerson a person’s ability can never be measured. The psychologists use intelligence tests, introduced by Benet. But they say that only a certain level of intelligence can be measured by these examitions, though they may not be able to assess only the academic intelligence.
Often the students memorize some important portions from the textbooks and if the questions come from that section they write the answers conveniently. But the academic intelligence cannot be the sole determint in the evaluation process. Those who fail in the examitions develop an inferiority complex and take their failure as an end to all their hopes and aspirations.
Man’s intellectual ability grows and develops through passage of time and through hard work and dedication. Hence getting fewer marks in board or university examitions does not imply lack of ability or intelligence. There are instances galore to prove that a person may earn distinction in some job, though academically he could not fare well in some examition.
Possibly the real reason for stipulating minimum marks for appearing in some entrance examition is to elimite the majority of the candidates and to make the conduct of examition process easier. But it is not fair to destroy the future of a large number of young people for selfish motive, since it deprives a large number of our educated youth from job opportunities. If a young person with only 40 percent marks in Board or University examition can succeed in the entrance test for admission, then he should certainly be applauded.
There is no adulation of toppers in the western countries nor is there any evidence of indifference or insensibility towards those with average results. The unfortute young people who do not score high marks in examitions need to be treated sympathetically. They all deserve a second chance, even a third chance. If a student gets a few chances, he may go a long way in the path of success.
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)