The much awaited G.C.E.(A/L) Examination concluded the other day leaving a lot to ponder on. It has proved again and again that the system has many a loophole to attend to. Examinations are necessary evils. The gravity of the situation is that there is no other alternative for examinations to serve as the qualifier for people to be offered employment. Yet, the system in our country is chronically ill. Every year, it is reported in the mass media, that something or other has happened. Our examination history is blackened even with high ranking officers having got caught with serious malpractices and in the wake of every exam rumours are heard on various grapevines making the situation worse. Many a writer fills pages and pages on relevant matters and, yet we come to know unimaginable happenings somewhere. Something is wrong somewhere.
Over fifty years ago, when I appeared for the G.C.E.(O/L) Examination, a friend of mine posed a question to me regarding the science paper just before the beginning of the examination. It was in the paper as it was. But my friends nor I did not have time to attempt it. Again, two or three years ago, a student came to me when I was awaiting a bus and asked me very politely the advantages and dis advantages of mobile phones. It was a main question in the English language paper at the (O/L) Examination. The irony is that that student never came to meet me once the results were announced. He was an unknown boy.
The question paper scam at the recently concluded examination, chemistry paper, is essentially an eye opener. I humbly believe that a member of the la crème de la of the country has planned this digital device to come off with flying colours at the examination. The bitter irony is that even though one could enter the university through these unscrupulous methods, he wouldn’t be able to follow medicine or mathematics at the state university level. It is a very stupid plan by a genius. Because of the abnormal thinking of the world leaders, the global citizen is compelled to live an uncertain life. Digital technology is abused everywhere. The innocent children of the poor people are confronted with another grave problem as the monied lot of the people leave no stone unturned to make their children graduates overnight through devious channels. The situation is hellish. Money and selfishness ruin the society. Impersonation, leakage, pilferage and so many malpractices are still thriving at examinations.
There is another focal point with regard to examinations. It is evident that the invigilation process is also defective to a great extent. The high heels of the lady invigilators, thick boots of the male counterparts and their boisterous behaviour have a negative effect on the whole system. The seriousness of the examinations should be instilled in the mind of the supervising staff. Some immature invigilators inquire from the candidates whether the examination is easy or difficult while the candidates are struggling with the mindboggling questions on the paper.
Because of the abnormal thinking of the world leaders, the global citizen is compelled to live an uncertain life. Digital technology is abused everywhere. The innocent children of the poor people are confronted with another grave problem as the monied lot of the people leave no stone unturned to make their children graduates overnight
The discussion on examination blunders is opening a can of worms. Yet, for the benefit of the students, I would like to open this Pandora’s Box to open the eyes of the relevant authorities. My concern here is the G.C.E.(A/L) Examination ENGLISH, subject no.73 E [ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE]
Since the beginning the prevalent syllabus (2011-2019), there had not been a reasonable and proportional representation of the thematic areas and the writers in the question papers. For instance, there has been an over representation of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. The greatest bard and the playwright we have ever seen in the tapestry of English literature is SHAKESPEARE. His name is immortal. Yet, this is a syllabus that covers almost all the literary periods and themes of great human significance. Ever since the beginning of the syllabus, JOHN DRYDEN and ALEXANDER POPE in the syllabus have been given Cinderella treatment. Questions have been set on some themes very repeatedly. They represent neo classicism in the syllabus and their literary attempt is very relevant to the modern world. JOHN DRYDEN by taking a person and ALEXANDER POPE by taking an incident fired several salvos against the rotten society not in uncertain terms. Even in our august assembly, many a ZIMRI could be found. Amorous reasons cause the decadence of the society. Rulers of a country should be rational to the hilt. For the last seven years, only this year, they have given a context question for just eight marks. A very important question could have been given. On the other hand, the question set on DICKENS’ GREAT EXPECTATION is too long for the children to understand. My opinion is that it is a violation of question paper methodology. The question is literature out of literature. It does not seem achieving an academic purpose at A/L. It is a sermon on DICKENS’ great work. Understanding a literary work depends on understanding the protagonist. The question is ambiguous to a great extent. The question on ‘THE SEAGULL’ is a repetition of the same question in 2013. The question in 2013 is much better because they have omitted some important aspects this year. The language paper has not been targeted at the required language proficiency at A/L. The crux of the matter is that the A/L language paper should aim at the university level education. The real beauty and flavour of the QUEEN’S LINGO should essentially be the ultimate objective. Thus, the universities could generate a high calibre writing posterity in the future. The language skills of most of the newly passed out English graduates are poignantly low. They do not seem to have even creativity in writing. Imagination is the wellspring of genuine creativity. No poetry, short stories, fiction or drama is written by them. The students at their feet are adversely affected. I hope this piece of writing would be responded, and then we could break the ice and make a breakthrough in literary writing and teaching for the benefit of the students of literature. It is discernible that a profound dialogue on teaching English literature is mandatory in this light. A literary work is most –ly a reflection of the writer’s experiences. He writes to share his experiences with the reader or for mere pleasure. In this vein, a deep study into the life and soul of the writer is of paramount importance. As a practicing teacher of English literature and a writer, I suggest the department of examinations and the panel of consultants to consider to include at least one question on a writer’s life.
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT!
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