I have been associated with CBSE for the last 17 years, both as a teacher and an examiner. When I completed just one year of teaching with that Board of education I was appointed as an examiner. I hesitated to take up the duty and informed the concerned authority about my lack of experience. “You have 15 years of experience as a teacher,” the authority told me on phone. He had my entire CV in front of him, apparently. I was forced to join the duty. On the very first day, I got just what I wished to avoid. As soon as I completed checking the first answer script, I was ordered to be magnanimous. The Head Examiner as well as the Nodal Officer (the authority who spoke to me on phone) re-examined that script and showed me how I had awarded much less marks than the examinee “deserved”.
I realised that CBSE was as magnanimous as the North-Eastern Hill University for which I evaluated answer scripts for a year or two. I learnt the lesson quickly. I’m a quick learner when it comes to things like this. I continued to be an ‘exemplary’ examiner of CBSE ever since. I had learnt the trick: award marks wherever you can, however you can, for whatsoever you can.
Students are happy to get 98%. Parents are happy. Schools are happy. Why should you grudge anyone their happiness? Yet I found myself agreeing with Bikram Vohra who wrote about this insane system today in the Times of India calling it the CBSE albatross.
My best student of the Commerce batch this year told me with a wry smile how she could not make it in the selection list of a particular college despite having a percentage that would raise the envy of quite many students. It became a stunning realisation for me because the college where she was seeking admission was none other than my own alma mater, the very same college where I studied for five years. I had got admission there on the basis of merit though my percentage was abashedly far below my student’s. In fact, with that unmentionable percentage I had stood at the fourth rank in the admission list then, in the general category.
Those were days when examiners were like the God of the Bible: eager to condemn. Now we (examiners including me) are like the monsoon clouds showering boundlessly so that no soil shall be left arid. “Give everyone a chance to think beyond the traditional occupations,” as the Nodal officer told me during my first experience with CBSE. Yes, we are sending our examinees to the seventh heaven on rockets of marks and grades. So, dear Bikram Vorah, you may have to change your metaphor from albatross to rockets just as I changed my approach as soon as I laid my hands to the CBSE plough.