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Indian schools in UAE consider an exam-less future

The jury is still out on the future of school-leaving assessment pattern

In light of the CBSE and CISCE’s Class XII board exams being cancelled, experts say its time to critically examine the education system.

Discussions about the purpose of examinations are once again rife in the UAE’s academic circles.

Some feel exams — unless designed to test the application and adaptation of knowledge — are a mere test of recalling and memory skills.

Others argue authentic assessments can be contrasted with conventional exams, but such decisions need to be taken by legislators who are seldom a part of the teaching fraternity.

Nargish Khambatta, Principal, GEMS Modern Academy and Vice President - Education, GEMS Education says, “With examinations being cancelled, education circles are once again abuzz with discussions – what is the true purpose and relevance of examinations? Are examinations an authentic evaluation of student potential? If not exams, what are the alternatives? Can application of students’ knowledge, their creativity and ability to innovate be a more relevant marker of their potential? What are the ways to evaluate these? - that is perhaps the question to ask.”

She adds, “The pandemic is a perfect opportunity to spring clean systemic flaws. Regrettably, practitioners are rarely policy makers, and it is difficult to get consensus on such matters at the highest level.”

They opine until educators are certain, examinations will continue to remain society’s benchmark for success.

“But progressive schools will also continue to explore meaningful ways of engaging students in their learning; providing opportunities for experiential learning, internship opportunities, partnerships with industry, a focus on wellbeing, on innovation, on leveraging technology, while yet teaching our youngsters empathy, resilience and grit in an attempt to make them positive change-makers”, adds Khambatta.

Head teachers feel education in the future will be more hands-on, real life-connected and more practical than theoretical.

Sanjeev K Jolly, GEMS Our Own High School — Al Warqa, Dubai says, “Education of the future definitely is a new version of what our schools have had so far. Will it be digital mode only? Not so likely. The parameters and statistical probability are leaning towards a blended model.”

He adds, “that said, it could have a greater freedom for students to not stick to the year-to-year syllabus as it is now. There is a possibility of Credit Earning Modules along with the year-to-year schooling of the past. It may offer greater autonomy in line with the blended subject model and not the conventional divide of the stream of Science, Commerce, Humanities etc. as they exist today.”

Educators feel it is time to critically examine our education system and change it for the better.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal, Credence High Schools says, “Systems have to be created wherein competency-based learning is encouraged and continuous short assessments throughout the academic year would help the school to identify the learning gaps and assess the progress of the children. These steps will help our children to thrive and become more resilient to the fast-changing unpredictable situations.”

She adds, “The alternatives are plenty wherein internal assessments will become extremely valuable. Online skill-based tests which focus on the skills that the child has learnt rather than the content, is the future ahead.”