The private classes are mostly run by the faculty of the franchisees and not the school teachers. This system pushes trained and qualified school teachers, who are non-JEE compliant, into teaching the second-class students. Students of this upper class parallel system may score well in JEE, but their CBSE/board (class 12) marks take a beating.
However archaic the curriculum may be, class XII education is the foundation on which the future academics of children depend. Even with all its drawbacks, it sets the baseline for knowledge on the subjects the children choose to pursue. Compromising on them often compromises the quality of excellence in higher education. It could be one of the reasons why our IITs produce fewer PhDs, as highlighted by Murthy.
The new JEE is in fact an attempt to arrest the coaching-industry driven slide towards cracking entrance tests as well as to reduce the multiple tests that the children need to take. The new system will give equal weightage for class 12 marks and will also integrate exams for IITs, NITs and IIITs into a single enterprise.
For the IITs, the admission will give equal weightage to the class 12 marks and the JEE. However, the students will have to take two JEE – first the preliminary and then the advanced JEE.
In simple words, students who take the JEE will be initially evaluated with 50 percent weightage for class 12 and 50 percent for the entrance exam. A fixed number of students (say, five times the admissible number) will be selected through this process and will be asked to write an advanced JEE. The candidates who top this test will find admission to the IITs. While the preliminary JEE will be objective, the nature of the advanced JEE is yet to be decided.
For other institutions such as NITs and IIITs, it will be a 40/30/30 formula. Means 40 percent for class XII , 30 percent for JEE and another 30 percent for advanced JEE.
Besides compelling students to focus on subject matter, the new system will also reduce the entrance burden on the kids. Now they write two very competitive tests – JEE and AIEEE, for admission into IITs and NITs. Next year onwards, they got to write only one JEE.
The main opposition to the new formula has come from coaching institutions such as the “Super 30” in Bihar, which has set a global example for training poor, rural students in cracking the JEE.
Anand Kumar, the founder of the centre with a near 100 percent success rate, said the new format will put rural students at a great disadvantage. He said that the new system will force the students to undergo three types of coaching – one for the preliminary, another for advanced-JEE and the third for class 12 itself. While his argument is based only on the contestable indispensability of coaching, he is right on the quality of schooling. According to him, rural areas do not have good quality schools that will ensure that they get good marks in class 12.
Perhaps, the new exam will be the beginning of a tectonic shift in the purpose and quality of school education in India. The premium on school leaving marks will lead to a huge demand for good schooling. If Kapil Sibal is indeed sincere in improving the quality of education this is the time to work at it.
He needs to instantly look at improving the quality of school education, which will require massive government investment and reforms. Otherwise, as happened in higher and technical education in the recent past, private sector will find a more lucrative market in school education and will push millions of poor and rural kids out of the system.
The detractors might even allege that the new JEE is a ploy to make school education more attractive to private investment, which will definitely sound the death knell for poor and rural students.
It’s only the deeds of Kapil Sibal and his team that will be able to answer these allegations. They should ensure that while they seek to improve one part of the system, there is intimate attention paid to the complex changes that it might lead to because social transformations are not easy and there are no short cuts.