The whole year is an exam period these days. Whatever the board or university conducting the exams, students are seen panicking for next day’s papers. Naturally, there is hardly any satisfaction in any student’s face. It is because exam is never friendly. It troubles before and after. It troubles those who study. They are concerned about the fulfillment of their dreams for excellence. It also troubles those who do not study since they are worried that the exam would be strict and that there would be no chances of cheating and dodging. It troubles those who aim to be strict invigilators. They have to be watchful of keeping the dignity of the exams, and their own. Strictness sometimes becomes an unnecessary hurdle because of a potential threat from ruffians. It is equally a problem to the lenient because there is no limitation to leniency. Leniency is an ambiguous concept.
But the troubling question is: how genuine are the exams and their results? How would those candidates feel who, despite the hours of labour, can’t write all the answers, while beside them, any of the most careless of their classmates copy answers and come out of the hall with happy faces? What if cheating is equivalent to heroism? Honest but ‘unheroic’ students are rarely happy after the exams. The irony is that the world still prefers higher grades regardless of how they are obtained. So, it is not necessarily true that higher grades are the only markers of academic excellence. Examinations do not always distinguish good and bad.
Examination has become a problem because there is no culture of regular learning. The trend of hurried reading a little before the exams is the sole reason for the increase of the exam-time anomalies. There may be several factors that divert the young minds from serious studies. The first could be the prevalent frustration due to political uncertainties. The second is the rampant but superficial political indoctrination and deviation from mainstream education. This is not all. Let us not forget ‘westernization’ and the growing sense of freedom among the youths. There are many cultural choices in the surroundings, perhaps more appealing than the need of education for life. Fashion and glamour could be another important cause of distraction. There is either more security and no challenge, or more challenge and frustration due to insecurity, which makes reading and passing exams a matter of less priority.
The reports of cheating and expulsions and even extortions are common these days. We can often hear about the involvement of teachers and administrators in this misdeed. Such practices are making mockery of the norms of examinations, and examinations are becoming more bothersome than before. We have now to decide whether we make the system efficient and impartial, or keep up the trend ignoring the need of changes, making our genuine efforts just the matter of mockery.
[Published in The Kathmandu Post, April 18, 2007]