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HomeEducationExam Integrity and Curriculum Reforms Are Non-negotiable

Exam Integrity and Curriculum Reforms Are Non-negotiable

The utter collapse in the integrity of national examinations such as NEET and NET has intensified widespread panic and completely destroyed the principles of meritocracy

Prof. Harikesh Singh‘s illustrious academic journey is a testament to his unparalleled dedication and expertise in the field of education. As the former Vice-Chancellor of Jai Prakash University, Bihar, he epitomized visionary leadership. His tenure as Head and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, further cemented his reputation as a luminary in academia. Additionally, Prof. Singh’s role as the Head of the Department of Foundations of Education at NIEPA, New Delhi, showcased his profound understanding of educational paradigms. His contributions as a member of the State Advisory Council on the Right to Education for the Government of Uttar Pradesh underscore his commitment to educational reforms. Moreover, his distinguished service as President of the Teachers Association at BHU and as the National Vice President of Aacharyakul, an organization founded by the venerable Acharya Vinoba Bhave, reflects his steadfast dedication to the teaching fraternity.

Prof. Singh’s academic credentials are nothing short of exemplary. He embarked on his scholarly journey at BHU, obtaining a BSc in 1971, a BEd in 1974, an MEd in 1975, and culminating in a PhD in 1984. Before his vice-chancellorship at Jai Prakash University, Prof. Singh was a revered professor in the Faculty of Education at BHU, where he also held the esteemed positions of Head and Dean. His scholarly mentorship has guided 15 research scholars to receive their PhDs at BHU. Furthermore, he has overseen two MPhil dissertations at NIEPA, New Delhi, and 30 MEd dissertations at BHU, Varanasi. Prof. Singh’s contributions to academia are profound, far-reaching, and indelible.

In a distinguished and exclusive discourse with The Interview World, Professor Harikesh Singh eloquently articulates his perspectives on the recent malfeasance of paper leaks in the NEET and NET examinations. He meticulously underscores the systemic vulnerabilities that have been egregiously exposed, while also illuminating the imperative rationalization of NCERT subjects. Herein, we present the salient insights gleaned from his profound interview.

Q: What are the potential consequences of NEET paper leaks and cancellation of NET on the integrity of these national-level examinations and on the students who participate in them?

A: The integrity of our examinations, the credibility of examining bodies, agencies, and apex supervisory authorities, including the government, teeters on the precipice. The collective psyche of the populace is so profoundly shocked that a sense of relief or relaxation remains an elusive dream. This crisis has engendered intense hostility among all stakeholders. The credibility of formal education has already been irreparably compromised. The abject failure of the competitive examination system has exacerbated mass panic and eviscerated the sanctity of meritocracy. This debacle has forced us to confront the disheartening reality that manipulation, rather than merit, now appears to be the path to success.

Consequently, an insidious mistrust and pervasive pessimism have permeated the public consciousness. Regrettably, no intellectual cohort has yet risen to the occasion to rigorously examine and quantify the staggering loss of manhours, the erosion of governmental sanctity, the mental anguish inflicted on truly talented youth, and the far-reaching ramifications of this irreparable anomie.

Q: What factors typically contribute to vulnerabilities that lead to paper leaks and irregularities in high-stakes examinations like NEET and NET? Do you think the ineptitude of the NTA has led to such a disaster?

A: Mediocrity reigns supreme in all apex councils, with their chairpersons and directors ascending not by virtue but through nefarious machinations. Politicians and corporate behemoths, including influential media conglomerates, commandeered educational opportunities through private institutions. Consequently, enormous coaching centers burgeon under the aegis of these educational cartels. Regrettably, no government appears capable of remedying this pernicious situation.

The inefficacy and dereliction of duty by numerous officers are palpable. Yet, the late Election Commissioner, Shri Sheshan Ji, remains a paragon of electoral integrity. Presently, however, high-powered Search Committees seem to prioritize the selection of obsequious functionaries over meritorious candidates.

Q: How can technology be leveraged to enhance the security and integrity of examination processes, especially in the context of large-scale national exams? Do we need to significantly reduce human intervention in the process?

A: I vehemently disagree. Only human intervention can meticulously monitor and control every system. Technology, though an ingenious human invention, merely supplements our capabilities. Nonetheless, individuals of impeccable integrity and formidable ability can guarantee the seamless execution of even the most extensive examinations.

Q: Can you explain the rationale behind the recent decision of NCERT to rationalize the curriculum by deleting entire chapters and major sections across subjects for standards 6 to 12?

A: Recent developments at NCERT have evoked cautious optimism. Decision-makers there had hitherto struggled to grasp their full educational mandate. During different regimes, NCERT witnessed tumultuous upheavals. Leftist and progressive ideologues wielded disproportionate influence, distorting India’s social narratives in textbooks. The humanities and social sciences suffered particularly egregious manipulations. When the political winds shifted, nationalists swiftly prioritized reform.

Legal challenges ensued from left-leaning intellectuals in the Supreme Court. Yet, the court unequivocally upheld NCERT’s stance, championed by its then Director, Professor J.S. Rajput. Now, a clarion call for sweeping reform resonates. It demands the meticulous and unbiased scrutiny, and timely revision, of all textbooks from Class one to twelve. This imperative must be met with urgency and unwavering commitment to uphold the integrity of education.

Q: Some critics argue that reducing the curriculum might compromise the depth of knowledge. What are your thoughts on balancing curriculum depth with its breadth?

A: Criticism bereft of justification lacks all validity. Superficial editing fails to yield desired outcomes. Rigorous, scientifically grounded preparation is imperative for textbook analysis across languages. Collaboration among educators and specialists is essential to ensure content is both comprehensive and pertinent to national development imperatives. Paramount must be the acquisition of relevant knowledge to foster the nation’s progress.

Q: Looking ahead, what long-term implications do you foresee for the education system in India as a result of these curriculum changes?

A: Minor tweaks to curricula and textbooks with every change in government can prove pernicious. This fosters political maneuvering instead of serving long-term educational imperatives. Thus, a sweeping overhaul is imperative, securing genuine consensus from educational experts. This systemic endeavor is pivotal for fostering a robust and inclusive education system accessible to all.

Mockery of Examinations – The Travesty of a Nation
Mockery of Examinations – The Travesty of a Nation
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