COIMBATORE: The directorate of government examinations (DGE) has issued a circular asking schools to not encourage rote learning, but has done nothing to revise the examination pattern. It is almost a year since an expert committee recommended revision of the examination pattern, but the education department has decided to stick to the existing pattern that does not allow questions outside the textbook to be asked in the exam.
The ‘no rote learning’ circular, said officials, is a routine a few months before the board exams. “It has nothing to do with the exam pattern. We haven’t decided anything on changing the pattern,” said a senior official of the school education department. The committee, last year, had suggested introduction of questions that demand analytical answers.
While the DGE has told students not to prepare for the boards expecting questions from the previous years, experts feel that there will not be much effect until the examination pattern is changed. Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association president R Visalakshi said it will be difficult to avoid questions from the previous years’ examinations. “The same Class 12 board examination pattern is followed since 2006. And DGE does not allow questions from outside the textbook to be asked in board exams. So, you do not have an option but to repeat questions,” she said.
Some other officials said being an election year has contributed to the status quo. “Any change might upset students and parents,” said an official. Next academic year, the official indicated, there could be a syllabus change, if not an exam pattern change.
Educationist J P Gandhi said a change is overdue. “The school education department should not follow any blueprint for setting question papers. The existing blueprint tells you the number of questions from a chapter in each section of the question paper. This makes it easy for the students to skip portions while preparing for the exams,” he said.
The impact of rote learning system followed in Tamil Nadu’s state board schools is seen in the performance of students in semester exams and in All-India entrances. It is often seen that toppers in Class 12 fail in core subjects like engineering mathematics, physics and chemistry, experts say. Educationist Uma Gopalakrishnan said the examination pattern should focus on making students understand and apply concepts. “This will help them in their higher education and later in their profession,” she said.
Professors of engineering institutions said many students who pass out of the Tamil Nadu state board syllabus struggle in the first two years of college. “Unlike in school, engineering subjects have a syllabus and a couple of textbooks, besides a few reference books. The possibility of repeating a question in the semester exam is very less,” said RMK Engineering College professor K Manivannan.