Mixed review of Common exams for classes VI and VIII

These days the stress levels of both teachers and students have gone up with the introduction of Common Exams exams for class VI and VIII students that will not be marked by the schools but the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BESEA).

School have been letting students and parents know of the heightened scrutiny due to these exams and many schools are taking it as a matter of their school’s credibility. 

As a result, the home works, assignments and class tests have increased in frequency and both students and teachers are under a lot of stress.

The stress is particularly high for the 5,156 class VIII students who failed last year out of the 11,821 that stood for the exams. The board exam for class VIII started last year, in the 2022 academic year.

The common exams had been done away with around 16 years ago in 2006 as it was not seen as adding value but the Education Reform Steering Committee recommended bringing it back.

Students already have the class X and XII board exams to look forward and now questions are coming up on if too much pressure is being put on students from a young age and if there are no better ways to improve the quality of education.

A vice principal from a primary school in Thimphu has mixed feelings. He shared that reinstating common exams for classes VI and VIII will create a standard playfield.

The performance of class VI results is tagged to the labelling of the schools. There is a school categorization linked with the IWP, which includes, the physical ambience of the school, academics, psycho-social well-being, and academics being the most dominant criteria.

Therefore, the academic performance of class VI students will define the labelling of schools and teachers’ performance level.

He said his school is in category II, which is more or less influenced by the last year’s class VI academic performance, and therefore, teachers are also worried that it might impact their work evaluation, if in case, class VI students do not perform well in the common exams this year.

Given the current standard of the students, common exams are important because it gives a clear standard of where the students fall in their academics.

However, looking at the stress level, he personally feels, especially in the current scenario of exodus to Australia, it is going to have an impact and create more stress in children.

“I have many children whose parents have left for Australia, leaving them with guardians, and this will make students more stressed out, because already their parents are not with them, and in addition, having to appear for common exams. It is just an assumption but children might have psychological trauma,” he said.

More than the children, teachers will have more stress, but on the positive end, teachers will be on their toes to prepare students by providing remedial classes.

One of the teachers in Thimphu shared that in his school, they screen children in classes V, VII and VIII and feel that common examinations are not required. During the home examinations, the evaluations and assessments were done in a group led by the head of the department in school.

A group of class VI students shared that be it common or school-based examinations, they fear both because it is same, and exams makes them stress out, and if they don’t study, they won’t make it. Some students even said, they might fail the exams this year.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) said it has reintroduced common examinations for class VI starting this year in order to bring in seriousness towards learning.

There is also assessing of student performance in the three key stages; Stage 1 (PP to III),

Stage 2 (IV to VI) and Stage 3 (VII to X) and the stage of higher secondary education.

The Director General, of MoESD Karma Galay shared that the main purpose to reinstate board exams is to bring in a positive learning outcome among the students. It is best to start at an early stage where improvements can be made and proper interventions are provided as the students get into higher classes.

“I don’t think the children will be under stress due to common exams; this is nothing new. Even in the past, children have appeared for common exams in classes VI and VIII,” said the Director General.

He shared that children who have been filtered are doing far better. For instance, class XII students who have been filtered in classes X and XI are doing better. So, having common exams will immensely help in improving the quality of education.

Being mindful about the number of class VIII students who failed in the 2022 academic year, this time all the schools are informed about the common exam for class VI and are preparing from the beginning of the year.

In terms of classes or space congestion due to the higher rate of failure in class VIII, there were not any issues according to the DG. Hopefully, this year students will do better, the DG added.

The principal of Changangkha Middle Secondary School in Thimphu, Nyendo, shared the board exams for classes VI, VIII and X is a standard exam.

“Personally, I feel it is a good step because we need to prepare children to compete internationally and there is a need to have a standard and a standardized test and questions are very important,” said the principal.

While talking about whether the children will be stressed out due to common exams, he said it all depends on how they are groomed and prepared. For instance, if children are just prepared for exams and if they feel that they do not perform well in exams, children are bound to feel stressed and anxious.

“If one does not face the difficulties now then children are bound to experience them later in the future. In the process of education, if you have challenges, stresses and difficulties now, later in your life, you will harvest a good product,” said the principal.

He shared that many of his class VIII students failed last year and the outcome was unexpected, but it is a lesson for them to better prepare and groom students hereafter.

Check Also

Bhutan and India sign Energy Efficiency Partnership to squeeze more out of that light bulb

In a move aimed at fostering bilateral cooperation in energy efficiency, Bhutan and India signed …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *