Monday, October 19, 2009

Cutoffs for IIT-JEE to be raised?

IIT JEE cutoffs could be raised. Minister for HRD, Kapil Sibal announced yesterday that, he would like to see 80 -85% marks in Class 12 board exams as minimum cutoffs for eligibility to appear in IIT-JEE. The reason given for this is to stem the huge (and ever increasing) importance of tuition centers, that have become a necessary evil in the process of gaining admission to the prestigious engineering institutions. While this is desirable, I am not sure if the suggested move would have the intended impact. On the flip side, it is very likely that the following effect would be dominant.

This would lead to increase in stress levels that students have to bear as there would be two hurdles that they have to cross, instead of one. This is certainly not desirable. The minister's earlier decisions on making class 10 exams optional and moving to a grading system, aimed at reducing the stress that students have to face.

There are other problems. If the cutoffs are imposed, the system would have to find a way to normalize cut off scores across multiple boards. (though the Minister in the past has indicated a need to move to a single board). Then, there are other questions like ensuring uniform standard of marking scores, especially in subjective questions, what would be the cutoffs for the reserved categories etc adding to the complexity. We need to simplify not overly complicate the system.

Overall, however, the direction is good. The positive intent for reforms is visible. This is a huge positive for the education sector in India. This does not mean that India is ready for 'For-profit' education yet, which seems to be the only way to transform education in the country. But, we hope that steady pace of reforms would continue. This would ensure the human capital is available to fuel India's continuous growth and prosperity.

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