Towards an effective examination policy
Md. Shamsul Islam, Executive Editor, Our Time : Newspapers report that country’s education boards are still at a loss to invent a proper way of examining our children at different levels of secondary and higher secondary examinations. First, they attempted to introduce creative education system, where emphasis was given to develop and examine the students’ analytical aptitude. But it has not succeeded as teachers themselves could not master the system entirely, which became evident when the teachers proved their inability to set the question papers accordingly.
Then the educational boards’ experimentation with the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) also faced a serious blow because of question paper leak at different public examinations. Since then, schools and colleges throughout the country are in a dilemma about the boards’ actual examination policy, not to mention hundreds of thousands of students and their ever-worried parents.
To my mind, through creative education system, the board authorities wanted to imply what educational experts would rather say, concept-based teaching and learning. As opposed to traditional fact-based learning, it is now admired in the world’s reputed educational institutes. Fact-based learning is still dominating our education system, where students’ memorizing capacity is tested instead of their learning, innovation and problem-solving skills. I remember, during my university years, I was poorly graded in one of my answer papers as the teacher thought I could not memorize several definitions of a term properly. But a teacher’s main responsibility should be to see whether the students have understood the lessons properly.
So, in order to address the issue of the examination system, we need to devise our education policy first. Have we identified the philosophical underpinnings of our educational system that would guide the nation in the 21st Century? Furthermore, concept-based teaching and learning does not necessarily denote that only the question patterns would be changed. This method warrants major changes in teaching and learning strategies – active learning is one of the major techniques where teachers would manage the class in an interactive way. Problem-solving skills should not be examined only through textbooks, as it is being done now. As a result, notes and guidebooks seem to be flooding the market these days.
What we think is the educational research institutes at different universities should be utilized properly to contribute to the educational policy-making process. In every country, think tanks and research organizations suggest policy guidelines which are implemented by the policymakers including bureaucrats and politicians. Are the university laboratory schools being used to developing teaching and learning strategies for which they are meant for? Even at the tertiary level, teachers are not required to learn the essential pedagogical skills. And they are writing the textbooks for the secondary level students. It is really interesting!
So, only isolating the examination system from the broader issue of educational policy does not solve our issue at hand. If educational policymaking is looked at from a much broader perspective, problems like question paper leak or examination system would be resolved automatically.