Every year more than one lakh students appear in annual board examinations. Post examination begins the evaluation of the answer scripts of examinees.
From setting of question papers to designation of examination and to the conduct of examination, the JK Board of School Education (BOSE) remains deeply involved in the process to ensure the sanctity of the examination is maintained.
Like examinations, the evaluation of the answer scripts is considered as one of the sensitive jobs because in the contemporary period, the score or the marks obtained by the students becomes the deciding factor about the future of the students.
Keeping in view the sensitivity of the process, it is believed that the evaluation process of answer scripts is done only by the subject experts but the fact is that the JK Board hires retired people to do the sensitive job of evaluation.
Over the years the practice of hiring retired people for evaluation is going on. Many times, students are left high and dry to the discrepancies in the evaluation process. We cannot blame only the retired people but the overall process.
After declaration of the result hundreds of students are declared as not-qualified after which most of these students apply for the reevaluation and are declared as qualified. But till date no one has paid heed towards this grave issue due to which the students are left in quandary.
In the first place, the questions are raised on the JK Board over selection of people for evaluation of answer scripts.
Usually, the JK BOSE hires around evaluators for evaluation of the answer scripts of each class. These evaluators are not only the in-service masters or senior lecturers but the chunk includes the retired people as well. When I say retired it means the chunk of people who attain superannuation from the government services after they are by any means declared not fit to render their services in any government sector.
But the JK Board hires the same chunk to evaluate the answer scripts which exposes the flaws in evaluation. It seems strange that such a sensitive job is assigned to the people who are retired from their basic service by the government.
An official in the secrecy department of the JK Board admitted that retired people were hired to evaluate the answer scripts of the students, which is not a good practice at all. The official says they mostly hire in-service people but they face problems as most of the in-service people do not opt for evaluation because of various reasons. One of these reasons is that most of the teachers, masters and lecturers see the evaluation of answer scripts from the perspective of monetary benefits.
An evaluator is provided a remuneration of Rs 10 to Rs 13 per paper and each evaluator is allowed to evaluate around 50 answer scripts in a day. Earlier the limit was only 30 papers a day but has been enhanced to 50. On the other hand, if the same teacher takes classes at a private tuition he earns in lakhs during the winter months. Due to this reason most of the teachers do not take part in the evaluation process.
The matter of fact is that the JK Board is supposed to declare the result in a time bound manner for which they are forced to hire retired lecturers of masters for the evaluation process. Usually the JK Board maintains a 90:10 ratio of in-service and retired people hired for evaluation but in many cases they are prompted to hire more retired people as in-service people in the department prefer other jobs over evaluation.
“But we still ensure that any retired lecturer or master hired for evaluation is not retired more than three years ago. Anyone who has retired more than 4 or 5 years ago, he can’t be picked to evaluate the answer scripts of students,” the official said.
Amid this scenario, we can expect at least some little discrepancies in the evaluation as the people who are supposed to do it avoid it and those who are declared unfit are assigned the job.
The JK Board has many times written to the school education department to make it mandatory for the teaching staff for their deployment in evaluation so that all are deputed to JK Board for evaluation on a rotation basis every year. But till date no such decision has been taken by the government. Even if the government takes any such decision it will bounce back on the government as teachers will demand service benefits for it which means they will demand earned leave for them during the time they remain deputed in JK Board for evaluation. From the past few years, the teachers who remained deputed for teaching at Super 50 coaching centres of Government were given earned leave for that period.
“So obviously the government will not provide earned leave to the teachers who are deputed for evaluation as it will create huge financial crises for the government at the time of retirement of these teachers,” the official said.
Till date it has been observed that besides retired masters and lecturers only those in-service chunk of lecturers and masters from the department participate in evaluation who otherwise remain free during winter months.
If evaluation is seen from the perspective of monetary benefits, then we will lose the essence of this sensitive job. It should not be kept confined to the monetary benefits but the cream of in-service masters and lecturers should voluntarily participate in the process. The evaluation process is indirectly associated with shaping the career of the students at the early stage. The department should on priority intervene and bring reforms in the evaluation process so that the JK Board doesn’t remain dependent on retired people.
Principal Secretary School Education Department Bishwajit Kumar Singh is of the opinion that the problem does not lie in hiring retired lecturers but for not following the proper procedures of evaluation.
“There are not discrepancies in the result because of retired people but the process of evaluation is not followed properly. This year we will revamp the whole process and bring reforms,” he said.
He says the issue is the evaluators do not follow the three layer process of evaluation. “One evaluator is assisted by another teacher who checks the first evaluation and later it goes to the head examiner. But what happens is that whatever the first evaluator awards is finalized without following any scrutiny of the process,” he said.
The statement of the principal secretary also indicates that there are loopholes in the process which need to be rectified and streamline the process. There is no room for any discrepancy in the evaluation as a single mistake in evaluation has a direct impact on the mental health of the student. Hope the evaluation process comes with more reforms in future.