Monday, 20 August 2018

Can exams be all about education?

Mohammad Tanvir Kaisar

Lots of observations regarding Primary to Higher Secondary Education make us feel that our education system is just heading towards producing result-oriented students every year. The social structure and average social attitudes are also facilitating the tendency without caring much about the objectives. Students are tied up with class works, home works, assignments, classtests, and yearly or half yearly examinations. Even the co-curricular activities like drawing, singing, dancing etc. are now coaching-based. Moreover, even their parents fail to manage time to enjoy holidays. No scientific methods of teaching can support the prodigious continuous pressure in the name of teaching and learning. Many other problems have already been detected by the researchers and experts. My intention is not to focus or discuss the issue elaborately through this article, rather I like to draw the attention of the readers to the fact that even the Higher Education of Bangladesh is not beyond this crisis. The students of this level are comparatively matured and can take extra burden than the students about whom I talked earlier. Yet there should be a limit.The purpose of education is not limited in assembling the students prepared for job market and safeguarding higher scores in the examinations. Any curriculam aims at achieving two types of goal. One is short term and another is long term. Just passing or getting good scores in examinations may fulfill short term goal only. To make the learner equipped with knowledge is the long term and foremost goal of education. There must be no doubt about it. Higher education should deal with the creation of knowledge and dissemination of them with a view to crafting knowledgeable, moral and skilled manpower, so that they can enlighten the society with their knowledge and skills. It is alarming that thescenario is changing rapidly. The new system, popularly known as semester system and in many private universities trimester system brought a large change in our higher education system. Theexponents of this system may assert that this system is effective as fetched acceleration in learning. Students have to keep themselves busy with assignments, presentations, class tests, minimum two mid-term examinations and ofcourse one final examination, sometimes followed by Viva Voce. They are to cover the long syllabus within stipulated time andin no way to escape it.Once they start the class get the exam schedule for the next one within no time. I used the word ‘cover’ intentionally, because the process does not allow the learners to learn in depth. Most of the time, they go aftermemorizing some sets of answers to the questions, since they are to sit for the exams and must secure good marks, otherwise they will fail to be in the competition, which may results badly in their applying for job. There are many students both from private and public universities who do not have other way but to go for tuitions or part time jobs. The situation is shoddier for them. The pressure of excessive exams, presentations, and assignments turns them just to be robot. The incorporation of knowledge becomes impossible in most of the cases, which distracts the main objective of higher education.Moreover, students get few chance to perform their social responsibilities and co-curricular activities, which is the parts and parcel of education. These activities become slower in a remarkable rate. The teachers are sufferers too. In most of the universities, the teachers are overburdened with minimum four courses. Preparations for the classes, setting questions, checking scripts, invigilation, evaluating presentations, preparing results for all the courses within limited time create barriers to broaden their intellectual capacities. They mislay their patience and interest to guide the students in developing their intellectual faculties. This hectic schedule also hampers co-ordination between teachers and students in facilitating research and co-curricular activities. Incongruity in the distributions of semester is also another drawback. Though the first half of the academic year (January to June) runs with comparative smoothness, the last half (July to December) includes long vacations. For evidence, anyone can have a look on the academic calendars of the public universities. The private universities, where trimester system runs, no doubt, consider commercial purpose only, since it includes more exams and less care to the depth of knowledge.University is a place where knowledge is created and disseminated. The number of universities does not ensure the quality higher education of the country, rather the development of research facilities is an important factor to speed up the quality. The budget or grants for research for the existing universities are too poor to conduct the research maintaining standard. The hectic schedule of so-called semester system makes it tougher for the teachers to continue their efforts as researchers, since disproportionate pressure of the researcher hampers attention creating barriers in quality research.Now-a–days, new trend started. The students feel less interest in their own disciplines. Their fascinations are in the competitive examinations for different jobs. The study for jobs doesn’t match with the study of their own disciplines. Students intend to sweep the study of their own disciplines, which is alarming for higher education. Though there are exceptions, the private universities, even newly established public universities tend to overlook the basic disciplines of general science, arts and humanities showingmore interest to job oriented disciplines, which contradicts the idea of higher education, so is the universities.There are more things to discuss though impossible to deliberate elaborately within the limited sphere. I shall try to focus the others later on. To conclude, I like to say that the new tendency to prepare the students for job market only and evaluating them in terms of grade and scores is not at all favorable to produce insightful, morally educated and skilled human being. Examination-based higher education system may fail to achieve the goal of education .Thus the nation may be deprived of getting anticipated human resource.

Mohammad Tanvir Kaisar
Assistant Professor
Department of English
University of Barisal
E-mail: Kaisar_tanvir

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