The cut off point conundrum

The education ministry’s decision to enrol all Class X pass students to Class XI from this academic session has been received well.

But the announcement has still not provided clarity on the status of the cut off point, which the government promised to do away with. While the details on the decision and its implementation would be out soon, questions remain.

We are dealing with education and such a policy change warrants thorough study. This has not happened and if it has, then it has not been shared with the people. Discussions at the education conference should not be construed as being enough to trigger a policy change that would impact the lives of thousands of students. The conference had resolved to implement this change by 2020 academic session, but the education minister announced last week that the change would be implemented from next month.

Why the rush?

It being a populist decision besides, it is one of the 25 pledges the government had promised to implement within 120 days in office. Are these reasons compelling enough, however? It would be of course good for the students who would be given an opportunity to continue their studies until Class XII. While the move could probably reduce the number of jobseekers in the market and perhaps even in vocational and training institutes, would this policy change accommodate past Class X students who are in the market but are still interested to continue their studies?

That the government would provide scholarship or funding to those who don’t get admission in public schools has also upended the notion of winning scholarships. Now it is not academic excellences that merits scholarships and government funding but about scoring the set pass mark. Given our obsession on academic performance, there are merits to this move. It does not differentiate students by their marks and gives everybody a chance to continue their schooling.

But then again, the question of sustainability arises. The government may pool resources to ensure that this policy change sustains for at least five years. And thence, what happens?

The main change this move is likely to trigger is the revision of the 35 percent pass mark that we have had since we started conducting board examinations for Class X. The 35 percent pass mark may have served us well then but the change in policy now questions the relevance of this standard. Should this be revised, there will still be a number of students who may not make it to Class XI.

In the last two months, we saw the issue of cut off point transforming into a case of all students who pass go to Class XI. Now, this could further morph into a case of the pass mark.

 Confusion besides, we are left with more questions than answers.

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