The government is all set to introduce a common curriculum at the Proficiency Certificate Level (PCL) and the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) from 2006, which currently function as two separate exam boards. This puts to rest the controversy that had stemmed from the plan to phase out the PCL from universities embracing this curriculum. The clubbing together of the two different boards will bring some 800 higher secondary schools under one banner. The move is aimed at introducing a concrete study course for the students studying at higher secondary level. The PCL course is relatively cheaper than the one offered by HSEB. Hence, earlier efforts to phase out the former ran into rough waters after students and authorities objected to the proposal citing higher fees as the stumbling block, among others. The bifurcation of curriculum at the stated level had also been blamed directly or indirectly for educational disparity to some degree, as the courses offered by the two boards were not always the same.

Now that the Ministry of Education has decided to merge the two courses after addressing various difficulties of the PCL student community, the plan is no doubt laudable. There is a need for an up-to-date national curriculum for all the students so that educational disparity among the students does not surface. Exotic courses taught at select colleges without similar opportunity for those in far-flung areas has meant that those with no access to such courses always stood at the receiving end. The success of the proposal must, however, lie in its implementation. A range of proposals to prop up education sector levels have come and gone, without making little or no impact. This should not be allowed to happen with the latest merger. If any goal in essential front like education is not met, it is usually not due to lack of elected representatives or the absence of the Lower House. It is so because of tardiness on the part of those who love to blame the system. The latest proposal must hence be welcomed.

In fact, the call for reforms at various levels in the education sector has been pointed out regularly in the past. And this has not been done without some reason. If the syllabus requires overhauling in some courses, the cumbersome formalities of registration and examination at others are not always student-friendly. This is particularly true at higher levels. The margin of error, often labelled as human errors, exceeds the acceptable limits. Reform in the process of evaluation, grading and invigilation is overdue. Although this is easier said than realised, progressive reforms will surely contribute to the establishment of the education sector as an effective one.