In Physics, there is a very interesting concept of ‘distance’ and ‘displacement’. Distance refers to the measurement of length covered by a person while moving. Displacement refers to the final difference between the initial and final position of a person. So when a man moves in a complete circle, he has moved some distance but his displacement is zero. Something similar can be said about our HRD Ministry and its new pattern for engineering entrance.
When this topic (change in the pattern of engineering entrance exam) first came in public limelight, there were loads of speculations as to how the new pattern would affect the main stakeholders (students, teachers, schools and engineering institutions). The ministry defined following objectives that it wished to achieve through the new pattern – 1) Reducing the stress on students 2) Incorporating the Class XII boards marks in the entrance system and thereby increasing the importance of school-going 3) Discouraging the business of coaching centres thriving in the country. Assuming that these objectives are worth achieving (which in itself is a big assumption), it’s time public evaluates if the new entrance pattern is a step in right direction to help the ministry achieve the aforementioned goals
First objective relates to stress. Ministry said that the two exams would be fused into 1 single exam. Seeing the current pattern (and assuming that I can count correctly) there are still going to be two exams. And the surprise is that both of them are going to be on the same day. That means if a person is, for some unfortunate reason, not able to give test on that day, he/she would have to wait for an year. Unlike the present system, there would be no second chance in the proposed system. I believe that any rational person would take this step as one that increases stress rather than reducing it.
Then comes the perennial topic of discussion among science students, JEE enthusiasts, schools and the government: the importance of school education vis-à-vis subject matter of engineering entrance exams. The government has been successful to pay a deaf ear to the concerns regarding the inequalities and drawbacks in the prevalent system of board exams and somehow incorporate Class XIIth marks into the entrance system. But does that mean that there would be a steep increase in attendance? Not necessarily. The level of board exams is very low and there are enough books in the market to help students prepare for that. Many people will say that only those who go to school will get good marks in practicals. But the truth is that schools care a lot more for overall results. Hence, 90-95% of the students would still get good marks in practicals. So, the second objective looks as distant as it used to look before.
And now we come to the so-called eternal villains of the society – coaching centers. I would not comment anything on whether coaching centers are good or bad. That is for another article. What we need to see is whether the new pattern is adversely affecting the business of coaching centres or not? And the answer is: Definetely NOT. Coaching centers are already teaching physics, chemistry and maths. Now, they would supplement the engineering course material with some material for board exams. There is even a possibility that some coaching centres hire teachers for teaching the other two subjects: English and one among Economics / Physical Education / Computers etc. The point is, the new system does not present any considerable difficulty to the working model of coaching centres. So, even the last objective looks as near as horizon.
So, if the HRD Ministry looks nowhere near to achieve what it has envisaged, then what’s the point of bringing the new pattern? And at the time of writing this, IITs, other engineering institutions and alumni bodies are making plans to drag the issue to courts. Apart from feeling disgust for the interfering nature of HRD Ministry, I also feel sorry for the engineering aspirants. Especially those, who would appear in 2013 and are still uncertain about the entrance system. I could only advise them to study hard for JEE topics and draw up a plan to get some good (if not too high) marks in Class XII board exams. But what advice for our HRD Ministry that has messed up once again? Seeing that the 2014 elections may be pre-poned, I could say only one thing – “Vinashkaaale vipreet buddhi” (during the time of our destruction, we go against our intelligence)