Teachers are the best judges of academic requirements. If they decide on a certain cut-off point in marks required to compete for an entrance examination, there are good reasons for that. Politicians are not equipped to make such decisions. Yet that is what Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal wants to do.
He wants to increase the percentage of marks secured by students in class XII for them to be eligible to compete in the joint entrance examination (JEE) conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). His argument: students spend more time preparing for the IIT entrance test than studying for the board exams.
The IIT-JEE is one of the more formidable exams faced by Indian students. As a screening device, it enables IITs to get the best students. If board examination marks alone were a marker of academic excellence, IITs would not have required such tests. Sibal should realize that he may endanger quality by interfering in a system that has been perfected over time.