The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Grades go on trial in schools next year

Calcutta, Nov. 24: The state government is set to award students grades rather than marks. At a meeting here today, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regime said it would implement the grade system in schools on a trial basis from next year.

The government met today to discuss the outcome of last Thursday and Friday’s National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) meeting.

The system will be introduced initially for Class VI-VIII students of schools affiliated to the state-controlled West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. But the existing system of awarding marks will continue side-by-side. “We will gradually convert the existing system of awarding marks to grades for the entire school-level education, that is at the primary, secondary and higher secondary levels,” school education minister Kanti Biswas said.

“The system of awarding grades is already in vogue in our state at the primary level. We need to bring about a series of changes in the examination procedures for replacing the existing system of awarding marks numerically in the school-leaving board exams like the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary. This will take time but our government is definitely keen to complete the process as early as possible,” Biswas added.

Currently, only the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations award marks and grades.

The NCERT recommends that school students should not be awarded marks as it increases exam-related tension and introduces an element of cut-throat competition.

Twenty representatives from various states, including Bengal, attended last week’s NCERT meeting at which ways to reform the draft national examination were discussed.

“Our (the Bengal) government had accepted in principle the NCERT’s recommendation to introduce the grade system last year when it held the first meeting in Delhi to discuss the issue. After a trial run that is to be introduced for Class VI to Class VIII students next year, we will introduce awarding (of) grades in the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary in the later stages,” said Abdus Sattar, president, West Bengal Board Madarsa Education.

“But in order to do so we will need a lot of funds for upgrading our mechanism. We have requested the NCERT to ensure that the Centre provides necessary help for the purpose,” added Sattar, one of Bengal’s representatives at last week’s meeting.

Sattar said the government has told the NCERT it will not abolish the system of awarding marks in secondary and higher secondary examinations until other state boards follow suit.

“The NCERT must ensure that a uniform system is maintained in all the states in this respect. Students of one state may have to face difficulty in seeking admissions to other states unless all the states introduce the system simultaneously,” he said.

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