The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Goodbye marks, hello grades

Malda, May 2: Secondary-level education in Bengal is in for an overhaul.

Marks will no longer feature in progress reports and students will have to sit for 10 examinations in each academic session. Eight unit tests have been added to the existing half-early and final examinations.

The gradation system, which will replace marks,will be on a par with the national education policy. The average of all the 10 examinations will be taken to calculate the tally at the end of the year.

Students scoring 90 per cent and above will be awarded “AA”. Those who get 80 to 99 per cent will be given “A+” and those scoring between 60 and 79 per cent will be treated as “A” grade students. Pupils who get less than 25 per cent will be considered “not fit for promotion”.

A notice issued by the education department to the state-aided schools in April details the changes and already there is a furore over the new marking system.

Many parents and a section of teachers have welcomed the gradation method. “It will be good for those who are weak, for they will only have to score 25 per cent in an average. For the bright ones, it will not matter either way,” said a teacher of a school here.

Sushanta Roy, the father of a Class VII student, feels the same. “The changes will benefit the students because the schools will have to play a more responsible role.”

Parents are also happy that an exam each month will keep students and teachers busy. “Earlier, we used to send our children to private coaching classes because teachers there used to take regular tests to monitor their progress. Now we hope the same thing will happen in schools, and, teachers — we have been told — will have to check the answer scripts within seven days,” said Neeta Dey, the mother of a Class VII girl.

District secretary of the All Bengal Teachers’ Association Tapan Chakraborty also feels that gradation will raise the standard of education.

Though the number of holidays in an academic year remains unchanged, the distribution will now take place according to state government norms. That is, no longer can a school on its own curtail its summer holidays to increase the puja break, or vice-versa.

While there will be 117 holidays a year, schools will remain closed for summer only for 18 days. Pujas will be only an eight-day vacation. However, some relaxation has been made for institutions, which are also centres for the Madhyamik and higher secondary examinations. Even the number of periods per week has been increased. Not only that, six special classes will be held a week for the weak students. Schools have also been told to conduct guardians’ meet at least twice a year.

Not everybody is happy with the changes though. “This will only increase the pressure on students. As it is, most of them are reluctant to attend school, and now, with more periods and extended timings (minimum five hours a day excluding lunch break), the situation will only worsen,” said Chanchal Jha, a member of the state headmasters’ association.

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