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Testing times for students

Preparing for an examination is a gruelling exercise. The tension-filled days and nights are the bane of a student’s existence, and even the brightest among them admit to feeling nervous, anxious and afraid. When the process itself is so tortuous, and the students’ minds are already burdened with book knowledge that they will regurgitate on to the answer sheets, it is necessary for the authorities to ensure that there are few, if any, obstacles in the exercise.

It is therefore bewildering to find that Mumbai University officials are apparently falling over their own feet in the matter of conducting examinations. This is not some out-of-the-ordinary job for them, exams happen every year and the procedure is not different every time. Yet, numbering goes awry, names are botched up, categories get mixed up. The wrong question papers are sent, and sometimes, papers are not sent at all. Hall tickets are incorrectly allotted. Answer sheets are mixed up. Students often have to literally go from pillar to post trying to sort out the tangles.

Protests by students and exposure in the media should galvanise the authorities into recitifying their errors. Instead, every time there is a goof-up, we are greeted with the same-sounding round of excuses and finger-pointing. These are young minds we are forming and preparing for life. Is this how we send them out into the world? On a wave of confusion, obfuscation and sheer chaos? Our education system such as it is may not be without its flaws, but it is a system that we have all accepted administrators, teachers and students alike. It is our duty to ensure that the system works, and works well, for everyone.

There cannot be an excuse for the bumbling incompetence and mismanagement that has been characterising Mumbai University’s examinations year after year. Where does one begin to apply a solution to all this? One factor is a drop in quality most evident in the slowly falling standards of results from Mumbai University. The deterioration has begun from the top, and if any cleansing has to be done, this is where it has to begin. Quality control has to be ensured in appointments as well as in application of systems and procedures. Mumbai University should not be allowed to lose its prestige it has acquired over the years.

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