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Editorial: All the same

The Common University Entrance Test puts students of boards other than CBSE at a disadvantage
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Representational image
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The Editorial Board   |   Published 07.04.22, 12:35 AM

When something unequal is forced into place as an ideally equal arrangement, there is either childlike unawareness or careful calculation behind it. It is difficult to gauge the level of innocence behind the planning of the Common University Entrance Test for admission into college. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s declared aim of a level playing field is indeed laudable. But in the pursuit of this noble goal, the government has not only taken over teachers’ functions, it has also, by centralizing the admission test, tried to eliminate the variety among educational institutions that is desirable in a dynamic learning environment. Excellence does not come of regimentation; it is achieved through free play of the intellect and of the different talents of students and their teachers. But the CUET’s equality is only nominal. Questions will be set from the Class XII syllabus of the National Council of Education Research and Training, which is followed by schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education and some state boards. This puts students from other boards at a disadvantage. They feel the need for private tuitions, for which children and their parents are willing to drop classes in school. Are tuition houses meant to tie up the loose ends left by the government? Coaching institutions seem to be better informed than teachers, since they are offering schools special classes with model questions already formulated.

In this set-up, not only would school-leaving examinations be devalued but learning in school would also become a utilitarian activity. Schools with the NCERT syllabus would become more prized. Besides, the government’s innocence would lead to more divisiveness. Most children from underprivileged and rural backgrounds would be left out of the race for private coaching; the greatest sufferers are likely to be girls. The school closure during Covid has hurt huge numbers of these children; many are unable to return to class. The CUET would put a further hurdle before this segment of students already suffering from the government’s insistence on digital lessons and susceptible to the early vocational learning stream of the National Education Policy. It is intriguing how the government in its idealistic innocence succeeds in furthering divisions in every sphere. This is beside its effort to straitjacket all thinking — otherwise a centralized test for university admission would not have been necessary.



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