Minister Kapil Sibal’s education reforms, particularly for schools, have electrified students, teachers and parents. The Class X board exam will now be optional for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, grades will be introduced instead of marks, and there will be continuous evaluation in schools. These reforms were urgently necessary and Sibal is certainly one of the UPA’s best-performing ministers.
Yet reactions have been mixed. A group of parents told me recently that Sibal’s advisers on school reforms are ‘idealistic jholawallahs’, far removed from Indian realities. Is the emphasis on ‘de-stressing’ the Indian student, ‘de-traumatising’ the education system, making a child free from the ‘pressures of competition’, an overly romantic and idealistic vision? Are children of elite schools to be pampered into believing that underachievement, indiscipline and sloth are actually signs of a child’s own ‘individual creative genius’?
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