Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Indian teachers in Dubai say exam ban should only be the start

India’s central government decided to scrap exams from 2021 to reduce pupils’ stress levels and modernise the education system

Pupils sit an exam in the UK. India is the latest country to scrap exams from its curriculum. Getty 
Pupils sit an exam in the UK. India is the latest country to scrap exams from its curriculum. Getty 

Indian curriculum schools in the UAE said the decision to scrap exams in India by 2021 does not go far enough and a complete overhaul in the approach to education is needed.

The Indian system of education has previously been criticised for being too focused on rote-learning.

This week, the country’s central government said the Human Resource Development ministry would review how pupils are evaluated and remove school examinations in two years time. Schools in India will instead review pupil’s progress through assessments.

The move is in line with a general global shift away from traditional testing with Singapore banning exams for primary pupils this year while children in Finland do not have to sit exams until they turn 18.

Ms Sheela Menon, principal at Ambassador School, an Indian curriculum school in Dubai, said an overall paradigm shift to a skills-based approach is needed too.

“This is a major move but authorities are looking at one end of the spectrum while they need to go back and change the entire system of education.

“There are good aspects of the Indian curriculum but they need to review their focus on rote-learning and content with a shift to a skill and application-based approach.”

She said the removal of exams would encourage more creativity in the classroom and pupils will become skilled in applying knowledge instead.

"There will be a more relaxed atmosphere in classrooms so that pupils learn for life not just for an exam."

Ms Menon said she did not see traditional examinations as a good measure of the knowledge and ability deciding the knowledge and ability of a pupil through examinations.

She said a continuous system of assessment where pupils' abilities would be assessed through projects and discussions would be more beneficial.

At present, schools focus on concept retaining and recalling, which decided the scores a pupil received, she said.

"The Indian education system needs to take the best practices, such as the focus on research and independent learning, from the International Baccalaureate and other international curriculums," she said.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal of Delhi Private School Dubai, agreed with a continuous assessment approach, saying it relieved some of the pressure that “high-stakes exams” put on pupils.

"The decision to remove exams will bring us on an even playing field as other curriculums across the world are more flexible.

"In the Indian system, there is a lot of heavy curriculum and if authorities are able to manage the content and guide schools so that they become more skill-based, then that is the way forward."

In another move to revamp the education system this year, the Indian government's national education policy committee called for a new model wherein pupils would study five years at the foundation stage, three years at pre-primary school, three years at preparatory stage, three years of middle school, and four years of secondary school.

Currently, pupils at Indian schools spend two years in kindergarten, five years in primary school, three years in middle school, and four years in secondary school.

Updated: November 26, 2019 05:37 PM

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