Will the state's Std X aptitude test be half-baked?

While NGOs will conduct a written test followed by a detailed one-on-one interview with professional career counsellors, the state — with its one-size-fits-all approach — is going to limit itself to an objective test

The ambitious plan of the Maharashtra government’s Education Department to outsource aptitude tests for Std X students of the state board has sparked a controversy. Not even two months remain for the first ever such test, and the state has now roped in NGOs and private companies to conduct the test via CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funding. The schools not covered by these NGOs will have the aptitude test conducted by the state government.

Education Minister Vinod Tawde says that the state will appoint counsellors at the district level for personal career counselling for students. File pic
Education Minister Vinod Tawde says that the state will appoint counsellors at the district level for personal career counselling for students. File pic

The NGOs participating in the initiative already work in career counselling with specific schools. While NGOs will conduct a written test, followed by a detailed one-on-one interview by professional career counsellors, the state — with its one-size-fits-all approach — is going to limit itself to an objective test, which experts have already criticised for its quality.

A notice issued by Education Department makes it clear that the state is outsourcing the task of conducting the test to different organisations. Nitin Kulkarni, director of Career Analysis and Profiling Pvt Ltd — one of the private parties participating in the endeavour — told mid-day, “We will be looking after a certain part of Maharashtra where we are already working with schools for the same purpose.”

Ketan Deshpande, founder-chairperson of the Friends Union for Energising Lives (FUEL), another NGO participant, said, “We already have a module designed, as we are conducting these tests for a few schools. We are certainly taking it forward to more schools as per our abilities, but one agency cannot conduct this test at a mass level.”

Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Raigad and Mahad are among the regions where NGOs will be participating. But it is unclear as to which schools will be covered by NGOs, and which by the government. Further, both, the NGOs and the government have completely different ways of conducting the test. A principal from an Andheri (west) school, who did not wish to be named, said, “Either all students should appear for the state’s test or all should go through NGOs. There is no uniformity and, hence, one will never know how dependable the results are.” Moreover, many feel that a comparison between the two processes is bound to happen, especially if the NGOs adopt a more professional approach.

The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education will conduct the test for the schools not covered by NGOs. This test is going to be conducted online by the state board in February.
Gangadhar Mamhane, chairperson of the state board told mid-day, “The test is ready and will be conducted at schools in most parts of the state by us in February. The objective test results will then be added to the SSC mark-sheet of students.”

Minister speak
While the board chief did not mention a plan to offer personal career counselling, state Education Minister Vinod Tawde insisted that there would be no unfair treatment as the state is going to appoint counsellors at the district level for career counselling for students.

Tawde said, “We are bringing this test when there was nothing offered at all. The mass implementation of this will create awareness among parents about not pressurising children choosing their career paths. If we get support from outside, where even the financial aspect is taken care of, why shouldn’t we opt for it?”

He added, “Currently, around five lakh students will appear for tests conducted by NGOs. The state government will conduct the test for over 10 lakh students.”

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