While the student have been seeking rollback of semester-wise system exams at under graduate level, the government of India has proposed introduction of this system of exams at secondary and senior secondary level. “The secondary and higher secondary classes should be treated as single unit with introduction of semester wise exams for each class. Under this decision there will be with 8 semesters from class 9th to 12th,” reads the draft of the new education policy-2019. The academicians have however expressed apprehensions over the decision citing that the semester system will worsen the exam management and burden the students further. The State has a bitter experience of semester system of exams at college level wherein the degrees of students get delayed owing to delayed conduct of exams as well declaration of results. “We are already aware that semester system of exams didn’t work well in the state keeping in view the overall situation and its geographical location. If the same system is introduced at secondary level then it will hit career of students,” an academician said wishing not to be named. He said the abolition of present system of exams will create a vacuum.
The policy suggests that the students at secondary and senior secondary level will have to take five to six subjects each semester. “And there will be some essential common subjects for all, while simultaneously there will be a great flexibility in selecting elective courses to help students expand their horizons as they see fit and explore their individual interests and talents,” it reads. The new education policy is expected to have focus on interactive and fun classrooms wherein questions from students are encouraged, with creative, collaborative, and exploratory activities for deeper and more experiential learning. A top official in school education department however said the state will discuss the modalities for introduction of semester system of exams and convene meeting with MHRD to discuss the limitations of the semester system exams which has already taken a toll on students as college level. “The proposed draft policy is yet to be implemented, Deliberations will be held regarding the implementation of the policy for which we will submit our concerns and view point on time,” he said. The new National Education Policy (NEP)-2019 proposed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has however also included some positive features which are aimed at changing the classroom culture for the students particularly the pre-primary and primary section. The proposed policy suggests that the curricular and pedagogical structure of school education should be reconfigured in a way that will make it responsive and relevant to the developmental needs and interests of learners at different stages of their development, corresponding to the ages of 3-8 years, 8-11 years, 11-14 years, and 14-18 years, respectively. “The schooling of a child should start from the age of three years onwards and Anganwadis centres should be merged with pre-schools, creating school complexes,” reads the draft policy. The policy has proposed introduction of four years’ integrated B.Ed course common for all teachers. “Two years B.Ed course will be modified to single year for under graduate and will be conducted by those institutions conducting four year B.Ed courses for teachers,” reads the policy. It proposes introduction of vocational education in school education commonly. Previously, around 132 government secondary and higher secondary schools were identified to introduce vocational courses for students but the initiative had failed given the poor response of the students. The courses were introduced from class 9th under erstwhile RMSA scheme. The draft policy has a mention of the pupil-teachers ratio in the schools and has suggested that the department should ensure proper teacher deployment and teacher conditions, and a Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) under 30: 1 at every school. Presently, only 43 percent schools in J&K state comply with the PTR recommended under erstwhile SSA scheme. As per the set norms of the department the PTR at higher secondary school level should be 1:40 but the state has 1:32 while as the teacher student ratio at secondary level is 1:14 against 1:35 as recommended. The Pupil-Teacher Ratio is 11:1 against recommended 30:1 at middle level in the government schools of J&K state.