miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2018

On a slippery slope | The Indian Express

On a slippery slope | The Indian Express

On a slippery slope

Nitish government diktat asking students not to wear shoes to exams, reeks of a punitive approach, passes blame to students

By: Editorials | Published: February 21, 2018 12:42 am
Bihar Board, Bihar Board Students Cheating, Nitish government, Nitish Kumar, Bihar Board Cheating, Students Without Shoes, Bihar News, Editorial News, Indian Express, Indian Express News
Nitish government diktat asking students not to wear shoes to exams, reeks of a punitive approach, passes blame to students (File)

In his first two terms as Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar made a significant dent in the state’s dismal education scenario. His flagship “Bicycle to Girls” scheme contributed to an increased enrolment of girls in school and the mid-day meal programme in the state showed a marked improvement.
That initial success has now plateaued — drop-out rates in secondary and higher-secondary education remain high (just 42 per cent of class 1 students finish secondary education) and even the gross enrolment ratio, according to the state’s Economic Survey 2016-17, stands at 13 per cent as against the all-India target of 30 per cent by 2020. There has also been a steady decline in the state’s expenditure on higher education.
The rampant cheating in the state’s board exams for classes 10 and 12, as much a symptom of the broken state of education as of a lack of discipline among students, made national headlines in 2015 when clips of guardians scaling the walls of a Vaishali school to assist their wards during their boards, went viral. Instead of taking responsibility for the structural malaise that cheating represents, the state government has chosen an easy, and disturbing, way out: Passing the blame on to the students.
For the first time, class 10 students currently sitting for the state board’s examinations (which end on February 28) are required to do so without wearing shoes or socks. In slippers, goes the rationale of the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB), they are less likely to cheat. Leaving aside that the order was passed without any immediate provocation and despite the fact that examination centres are meant to be equipped with CCTV cameras, the move presents a much deeper problem.
It exemplifies the disturbing philosophy of governance that has marked Nitish Kumar’s third term as chief minister. The problem of cheating, the Bihar government seems to believe, can be solved by treating all students as cheaters. This can even be seen to be analogous to the government’s earlier unwise decision — to deal with the problem of alcoholism through prohibition, by criminalising anyone who chooses to imbibe, even moderately.
Unlike in his earlier terms, when incentives towards school enrolment and welfare programmes for the poor marked Nitish Kumar’s governance style, his current tenure seems to fall back on punitive ideas. The dangers of such an approach are many, not least of which appears to be that a consummate politician seems not to recognise the power of symbols. Diktats about who is allowed to wear shoes and where hark back to a time, unfortunately recent, when they held up caste hierarchies. No part of public education should allude to that time.
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