Students need ‘Azaadi’ from the tyranny of exams

By Ashwin Tombat
28 January 2020 16:55 IST

With Std XII examinations scheduled for next month, comes a relevant and heartwarming letter to parents from a school principal. Zubair Ahmed Khan is the Principal and Head of Institution of the International Indian School at Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The school is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), New Delhi, and has a strength of 14,960 students and 750 teachers. Over 1,000 students appear each year for the Std X exam and over 700 for the Std XII exam. The letter has gone viral on social media, and some of you might have already read it, but it needs repetition:

Dear Parents, Greeting from IIS Dammam,

The Board Exams of your children are to start soon. I know you are all really anxious for your child to do well.

But, please do remember, amongst the students who will be sitting for the exams there is an artist, who doesn't need to understand Math.

There is an entrepreneur, who doesn't care about History or English literature.

There is a musician, whose Chemistry marks won't matter.

There's an athlete, whose physical fitness is more important than Physics.

If your child does get top marks, that's great! But if he or she doesn't, please don't take away their self-confidence and dignity from them. Tell them it's OK, it's just an exam! They are cut out for much bigger things in life. Tell them, no matter what they score, you love them and will not judge them.

Please do this, and when you do, watch your children conquer the world. One exam or a low mark won't take away their dreams and talent.

And please, do not think that doctors and engineers are the only happy people in the world.

Above message is taken from some sources, this is a lesson we could all stand to learn.

Zubair Ahmed Khan
Principal and HoI

Should a year or more of learning be defined by a memory exercise that is only three hours long? Can it ever adequately define who the exam giver is as a person?

Few things matter more to American higher secondary students than the Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT. After years of toil for good results, this is a test that can either make or break their college hopes.

But now, more and more American colleges are giving students the choice of either submitting their SAT scores or not. Many US colleges – including some of the most elite institutions – have adopted a test-optional model. It marks the biggest change in college admissions in the past two decades.

Instead of making admission based on a single test score, US colleges now look at the totality of an individual. Good marks certainly, but also the person’s unique talents and character are more important than a single test score.

Bestselling English writer Chetan Bhagat, whose novel ‘Five Point Someone’ inspired the cult film ‘3 Idiots’, says there is a need to change the present education system to enable students to connect their knowledge with real life. “Can the guy who scores good marks but cannot communicate get a job?” he asked at a seminar held in Kolkata last year.

Chairman of leading consumer goods company Marico Ltd Harsh Mariwala, who tweeted Principal Z A Khan’s letter above and made it viral, added in his message: "I was never a straight ‘A’s student. I emphatically agree that marks aren't everything… the most important thing is happiness." He is right. Most people who are happy are also successful. But the reverse is definitely not true.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his recent third edition of ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’ on Monday, recounted how ISRO scientists and India’s cricketers overcame their failures. “A temporary setback doesn't mean success is not waiting. In fact, a setback may mean the best is yet to come," he said. In last year’s ‘charcha’, the PM advised parents not to use their child’s report card as their ‘visiting card’. He urged parents not to impose their own unfulfilled dreams on the young shoulders of their children.

Here, I have a personal observation: I can claim to have been reasonably successful in life; I became the editor of a newspaper at the relatively young age of 30. Sometimes, high marks are required; especially if a child has set his or her mind on getting into an institution that has a very high cut-off mark. But that’s the end of it. Once I got into college, for example, I never, ever, had any use for my school or higher secondary marksheets ever again.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Education doesn’t guarantee that you will be successful in your life. But Talent gives 100% guarantee that you will be successful in your life. School which is used to close at 1 p.m. are now closing at 2 p.m. (which is unnecessary burden on children head). School which is used to take a off on Thursday & Sunday are now closing only on Sunday (which is unnecessary burden on children head). No success comes with the Degree but with the Talent. Parents should understand their children talent and in that direction parents should focus their children career. They will be No.1 in their Career and will do wonders in their loved chosen profession. Many Successful People in this World has no Degree but has Talent and they have done wonders in their respective field.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 29 th January 2020 19:10


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