Thursday, January 26, 2006

Write an Exam, and Get Marks - Free !

In my childhood, the Malayala Manorama daily used to come out with an annual edition of the most ingenious answers submitted by students appearing for their SSC exams. Needless to mention, some of the answers were absolute gems - to say they were merely hilarious would be a gross understatement. One of these answers has attained an almost-cult status in Kerala - part of SSC folklore, so to speak! I have tried to translate the answer below, from my memory:

Question: How does the amoeba catch its prey ?
Answer: Time slowly ticked away, and the night grew darker. In the distance, a dog - or was it a fox - howled mournfully. Still, the amoeba continued to pace up and down its tiny lair, glancing at its famished young ones with trepidation. Finally, it could bear the anguished cries of its young no longer. The predator stepped out into the jungle, determined to find hapless prey.
...
As the wind changed direction, the doe twitched its nose, somehow sensing the imminent danger. However, unable to discern anything outwardly ominous, it continued to munch the grass warily. Slowly and majestically, the mighty amoeba strode out of the scattered undergrowth. The doe stood no chance, as the amoeba roared lustily and pounced upon it. Shaking the doe by the scruff of its neck, the amoeba dragged the by-now dead doe all the way to its lair, back to its hungry young ones.

This is how the amoeba catches its prey.


Its not a patch on the original, which was simply mindblowing.

You know what is not so funny about the whole thing? The student probably passed. To an incredulous 'how', I have a one-word answer: moderation. This term in this context basically means that a large percentage of students are given 'free' marks to boost the already sagging pass-percentage of the state. And after the so-called 'moderation', the average pass-percentage of Kerala - of the 100% literacy fame - over the last 15 years is less than 50%.

Appalling? Disgraceful?

Then consider this: to 'pass' the SSC exam, you need 210 marks out of 600. To 'help' students scale this mountain, liberal correction techniques are recommended to the paper-correction committee (I am not sure what exactly 'liberal' means; me-thinks it probably implies that somebody who says a cow has 2 legs instead of 4 would get half-marks). And to 'help' out those students who fail despite this 'liberal' approach, up to 60 marks can be awarded free of cost - muft mein.

I do not have the facts and figures to articulate on the merits or demerits of this system. However, if despite the 'liberal' techniques and the 'moderation less than 50% of our students fail to make the grade every year, we have a serious fallacy in the system. It seems to me that a student who secures a pass in this manner is bound to fail in college (where there are no 'moderation' techniques applied, surprisingly - somebody must have put his/her foot down) - no good done anyhow. But then, a lot of jobs are open to people once they secure a mere SSC pass - a government bus-driver job, for instance. But does that justify the award of undeserving marks?

Another one of my posts which has no definite conclusion!

3 comments:

Vamsee said...

Came here hopping around blogs...This post reminded me of another such answer, rather it was just the question which the student repeated in ten sentences for an answer...Some thing like Amoeba caught its prey while another Amoeba got its prey as...

Such loop holes in our system, though we donot have definite conclusions, should be bought up to the surface. Good attempt!

Ranjit Nair said...

Good one Vamsee. Yet another one that I remember one, after reading the repetition-idea, is a situation where a student is asked to write 5 sentences about 'the cow', but (s)he has mugged up 5 sentences about the tree. However, underestimate the student at your peril - read on:

The cow at our house is tied to a tall tree. The tree is a banyan tree that is more than 50 years old. This tree.....

Good one :).

Manikandan said...

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Thank you.....