Worse for the cure

A change in the education regulations has made the SLC Sent-up Examination, called the Test, no longer necessary. Not long ago, the government had made the SLC hurdle easier to cross by deciding to test the examinees only on the Grade 10 course contents. Until then the candidates had been taking their final on the combined curricula of Grades 9 and 10. This new measure was expected to boost the overall SLC pass percentage in the country, because a very low performance of the government schools for years, which stood out even more starkly when compared with the results of the private schools, had been worrying the educational authorities. In recent times, to boost the pass percentage, they had been regularly awarding grace marks in one or two papers.

Rendering the Test unnecessary will increase the numbers of SLC candidates each year.

However, the new provision leaves room for confusion and concern. According to the Office of the Controller of Examination, Sanothimi, it is no longer necessary for the schools to hold the Test. Until now, the schools themselves or the District Education Office, or in the case of most private schools, their owners’ umbrella body, PABSON, had been organising the Sent-up Examination. However, it is also reported that the schools can evaluate the students through quarterly examinations or their internal performance in Grade 10 to determine whether they are eligible to sit for the SLC final.

This means that the Sent-up Examination will be optional for the schools. In other words, some schools, particularly the public ones, may not choose to go through the ‘Test’ hassle, while the others, particularly the private ones, will still be assessing their students in their own ways, deciding to send up some and hold up the others — as is more likely, to ask those held up to fill their SLC forms as students of government schools, a practice most private school operators have been following for years; those deemed highly unlikely to secure a First Division in the final have often been prevented from taking the Test, let alone the final. The optional ‘Test’ violates the principle of uniformity of criteria under the same examination board. This new medicine is therefore worse than the disease; and what is even more worrying, the new prescription has been made out without first diagnosing the disease. Most private schools have tended to promote their students up to Class 10 easily, obviously for commercial reasons, and then, to hold them up when it comes to sending them up for the SLC final, for obvious reasons too — to remove or minimise the possibility of their rates of SLC failures or mere passes, anything short of first division, because the schools expect to do better business on the strength of their SLC scorecard. The government must do something to end this unhealthy and unethical practice. Making it every Tenth Grader’s right to sit for the SLC final will do away with this practice. In cases of very weak students, the schools will then have to take corrective action well in advance — in lower classes. The students and their parents must not be ditched at the last moment.