Sunday, June 4, 2023

Build confidence

As we all are aware, COVID-19 has compelled the world to close all academic institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruption in educational institutions affecting academic pursuits of students everywhere. Board, university-level and entrance exams have been postponed, creating uncertainty among the students. Those who had to appear for entrance exams or were getting jobs through recruitment exams either found revoking their offers or deferment. In response to this, there were intensive efforts to provide alternatives through digital platforms to maintain essential activities with minimal resources. Educational institutions have placed their hopes of survival on the miraculous techno-power of ‘online teaching’ and ‘online examinations’. At present we are experiencing online education delivered everywhere which is leading towards a paradigm shift. Simultaneously home-based online examinations are also taking place. It is good to provide all such things online, keeping in view the consequences of COVID -19. Online learning and online examination is now a global phenomenon, and we are no exception. UGC and other State Boards have issued time to time notices regarding the same. Following the prescribed guidelines, the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) has also emphasized on imparting online education and taking home-based online mid-term exams very smoothly. Yes, it is a good move to take exams online, and to save a precious year of our students, but at the same time, we must also ask: Are such type of exams fulfilling the purpose, or is it just a formality? It is apparent that nowadays exams have lost that touch of seriousness. Everybody takes it lightly. Earlier, the pupil had to reach well in time, sit in a disciplined way in an examination hall under strict supervision where there was no chance of copying. But today we are seeing the candidates who failed continuously in a few subjects before are very much excited because they know that there is no one to supervise them at home. Nothing prevents students from taking the support of human capital (well-wishers) and technology to get their questions answered during an online examination. This is all possible because we have so far no such sophisticated technological infrastructure by which we can overcome these faults. Today some of our near and dears, perhaps, may be going or might have gone through the same process where some have to submit assignments, and some others to appear, or have appeared, in such exams. Some of us might have seen their assignments. Most of them are simply copy-and-paste from different sources. Besides, students who appeared in their mid-term examinations are happier because they have taken assistance from their well-wishers. We have also heard reports of friends sitting together and giving their online exams, perhaps defeating the very purpose of not just the exam but also the social distancing rules. Clearly to overcome all such pitfalls, we must break our brains, so that the candidates get the rewards that they deserve. To achieve the purpose of exams, the module needs to be modified. We must develop tools so that examinees don’t cheat the system. Maybe examination should test analytical skills rather than testing memory. The examination papers should be set in such a way that it is well balanced – testing different cognitive skills. Sure, students must be given training to prepare the home-based assignments so that the purpose of assignments is fulfilled. They should be trained on how to write, what to write, and what not to write. These assignments should inculcate creativity among students; evolve critical thinking and lifelong learning. We must understand that examination helps us to know the learning outcome of the pupil. If we assist our own wards in exams, how can we come to know about their learning outcomes, their knowledge and their cognition levels? Of course, our wards can get a piece of paper – marks certificate – with a high grade, but that does not mean they are brilliant. Instead of making online examinations an exhibition, let us assist them to build their confidence to face the exams; encourage them to learn more, so that they stand up on their own, and build their future. Having said that, one really hopes that when this pandemic is over students soon resume their normal class work in the traditional brick and mortar classroom with the entire online mode at their disposal.