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Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follows.
The leakage of question papers and the consequent postponement of examinations, are the least disturbing of the reports in this regard that the newspapers publish. At Fatehgarh, some time ago, the superintendent and ten invigilators at an examination withdrew from their duties in protest against 'inadequate security arrangements.' Earlier, a mixed crowd of students and outsiders had invaded the examination centre on the very first day of the examination, and adopted a threatening attitude when their attempts to pass on prepared answers to the candidates were thwarted. A day or two later a crowd climbed the roof of the examination hall and indulged in the most unspeakable acts of wretchedness. Many candidates were caught cheating. The news agency added that 'the administration appeared to be reluctant to handle the situation firmly as sons of some prominent citizens were said to be involved in these malpractices.'
Our examinations, instead of bringing out the best in students, seem to bring out the worst. Everyone is agreed that the system should be reformed. But if one may indulge in a piece of levity on so grim a theme, the situation is rather like what Oscar Wilde said about the weather, namely, that everyone complains about it and no one does anything about it.
The pace of reform is so unhurried as to be imperceptible. Meanwhile, examinations on the mass scale have at best become feats of organization by the Registrar's office, and their academic value as tests of proficiency has become negligible. The only skills that they bring out are the ingenious ways which candidates employ for cheating. In the High School and Intermediate examinations of Uttar Pradesh, about 4,000 cases of the use of 'unfair means' are detected every year. A minister of education, while deploring this, pointed out, however, that considering the four hundred thousand that take the examinations, the proportion of such cases cannot be considered large !
Reforms have no chance of success if they are based, as at present, on a wholly wrong view of the malady. The two most commonly recommended reforms, namely 'internal assessment' and 'objective tests', although they often carry the blessings of the same experts, proceed from two opposite views in regard to the validity of the old-fashioned type of examinations. Internal assessment is based on the recognition that if a teacher is good enough to teach, he is also good enough to examine his students. Objective tests, on the other hand, are intended to eliminate the chancy and subjective element in the older methods of academic evaluation. If the objective tests are really objective, it should make no difference whether their source is internal or external. In fact they eliminate the personal judgement of the teacher, and their logical evolution is towards the machine-scored tests of the Educational Testing Service at Princeton. These tests, like other examinations, are useful if we are clear in our minds as to what we are testing. An academic examination should ordinarily be expected to test the student's judgment, his powers of expression and his memory— n that order. The trouble with our present examinations is that with the passage of time, this order has been reversed, and the student's judgment is now left out of account altogether. We have now reached a stage where the annual external examination, on which so much depends, seems to the student a big gamble. The evils of a final external examination at he end of a course have been exaggerated. Since the American way of internal assessment and the piling up of credits is what finds favour with reformers today, it would perhaps be wise to have a look at what the British educator has to say about his own system.
It is wrong to suppose that we have to choose between internal assessment and external examinations. We should have both. The former will ensure that the student applies himself to his studies throughout the year, and the latter will have the advantages that Harrison talks of. It would however be a mistake to add internal assessment scores to the external; this may tempt institutions to inflate the internal scores. The Education Commission suggests giving the two separately in the student's record. To the extent that institutions establish a name for reliability, their internal grades may protect a student from mishaps in the external examination. The internal grades will also give the student greater confidence and eliminate the tensions that are partly responsible for those mishaps. As for what happens in many examination centres, from rowdyism to murder, the cure is not examination reform, but firm handling of wrongdoers. Now that the hooligans have discovered that they can get away with anything, an improvement in the reliability of examinations will not induce them to desist. Education had better conserve its energies for matters purely educational, leaving it to the law to deal with crime.
Q. (i) What is the significance of Oscar Wilde's complaint about the weather ?
Q. (ii) What are the advantages recognized in the Internal assessment and Objective test respectively ?
Q. (iii) What is the cure, recommended in the passage, other than the examination reforms ?
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