While there is a sigh of palpable relief among teachers of primary and upper primary schools after the latest announcement by the Education Minister T.A. Sengottaiyan that the public exam for levels V and VIII will be conducted in the respective institutions, they could barely conceal their disappointment over the government's decision to go ahead with the public exams despite reservations expressed from various quarters.
According to sources, the School Education Department was earlier exploring the scope for assigning examination centres within a one-km radius for primary schools with single-digit strengths at level V, and within three-km radius for upper primary schools at level VIII.
Teachers of the panchayat union schools with less student numbers were a worried lot since the burden of to and fro transport of students to the nearest school assigned as the examination centre would have fallen on them.
It is not just about the money we need to spend. There are safety aspects. In the first place, we find it extremely difficult to convey to the students the concept of public examinations, said a primary school teacher in Manapparai Panchayat Union requesting anonymity.
The students hardly understand the difference between the usual year-end examination and the public exam.
It is we teachers who feel stressed, another teacher said. The announcement of the public exam rather late has unsettled the teachers and students alike. If the idea for public exam is to prepare the students well for better academic performance, the policy ought to be ideally implemented from the next academic year, he said.
According to official sources, the School Education Department was almost on the verge of assigning centres and preparing duty charts for the teachers of primary and upper primary schools when the announcement was made by the Education Minister.
As per the time table released by the Directorate of Government exams, the exams for class V and VIII will begin on April 15 and 30 respectively. The exam beginning at 10.00 a.m. will be for a duration of two hours and fifteen minutes. The first fifteen minutes will be divided for reading the question papers for ten minutes and filling their details in the answer sheet for five minutes.
According to the order issued last September, a child failing in the examination will be given additional instruction and granted opportunity for re-examination within a period of two months from the date of declaration of results.
While schools can hold back children at levels V and VIII in case of failure in re-examination, expelling them will not be permitted, the order states.
Instead, the government ought to have given sufficient time for teachers to prepare students for the challenge. It is still not too late for the government to push implementation of the policy to next academic year, a headmaster said.