Scoring high into the IITs

Yesterday, Kapil Sibal proposed that the minimum marks to enter the IITs would be raised possibly to 80-85% in the Class 12 exams. Since then he has back-tracked, but I still wanted to talk about this.

On the face of it, it seemed alright, but the more I thought of, the more I was convinced that this was just not a sensible move. One of the reasons that Sibal states is that coaching centres have been mushrooming around and this move will curb it.

Now, if we do take into consideration, the much maligned coaching centres. The reason, we have so many coaching centres is

1. Our Class 12 syllabus is not geared up to allow a student to successfully meet the IIT standards

2. Our school teachers are not competent enough to teach the children

Surely, if we do need to curb the culture of coaching classes, what we need to do is, ensure that our Class 12 syllabus is geared up for the competitive exams rather than increase the focus on marks in the Class 12 exams. And we need teachers in schools who are able to guide the children through these exams. We have children going to tuitions and coaching classes from Class 1  onwards – surely, there is something wrong in the system? And not in the way the IIT entrance criteria are structured? The fact that so many of our students need coaching outside of school is just an indicator that somewhere our schools are not performing the role they are meant to be.

Secondly, to increase the eligibility percentage to 80-85% also assumes that every board has the same standards and marking policies. Most of us would be aware of how different every state board is. I know, some states, where scoring an 80% is no big deal while some states where it is very difficult and only the very top students manage an 80%. So students studying in some state boards are automatically at a disadvantage.  There is a distinct difference even in ICSE and CBSE boards scoring standards. Without a common board, such a proposal is just recipe for disaster.

Initially, when Kapil Sibal spoke of reforms, the impression that came about was that the system would change from rote learning to practical, from the basic learning. IIT entrance exams, if anything, are a very good test of how good our basics are. I think to shift the weightage from the entrance exams to the Class 12 scores is a sure-shot way of shooting in the foot, the reforms that Sibal spoke of.

Since then, Kapil Sibal has back-tracked. He is doing a lot of things in the right direction, to reform our education system. I think IITs is one place where things are functioning the way it should and he should just let it stay the way it is.

I just had to get that out of my system!