GOVERNMENT EXAMS: REVISITED
Before a person enters government service, he must pass and be eligible. The same can be said in any profession, from welder to lawyer, from accountancy to medicine. Well, except politics, where even nincompoops are by law allowed to handle life-threatening programs, disburse people’s money and toy around with sensitive social concerns.
Yearly, media would announce those who successfully hurdled the exams, whether in engineering, law, medicine, nursing, midwifery, civil service, etc. And it has been observed that only a measly portion of the universe, of those who took, would qualify. In the Bar exams alone, the casualty is very high.
I tried downloading a sample exam to analyze the exercise. I picked up the Board Exam tester and tried to answer it for the experience. Since I am a penologist, I searched for the Penology questionnaire. I just hope that all other state board exams are not designed that way.
I noticed that the questions framed in the sample Penology exam intends to confuse the examinee. That is good if what we intend to develop are passers who are also street smart. The questionnaire, most of the items, requires from the examinee answers that are not learned in school. Note that lessons learned in college are those that are literally imbibed, familiarized and almost memorized. In other words, an examinee is trained to respond on question about WHAT IS and not on questions seeking answers on WHAT IS NOT.
In the academe, an almost perfect world, everything is prepared according to WHAT IS. We therefore expect those who went through it to crusade on what is ideal. Outside, in the street however, a person learns WHAT IS NOT. If we intend to push our future professionals towards a bright future with a greater outlook then those in charge of crafting questions should formulate it on the basis of WHAT IS. In the process, we encourage and even expect that the rate of passing will increase several folds. The problem with using confused questions is that we deprive and make an exclusive circle out of those who positively hurdled it. In the process, we unwittingly form a society of losers, an expanded community composed of flunkers.
Then out of nowhere we complain a lot because the passers, who successfully hurdled the exams, they who comprise bulk of warm bodies in public service would rather outsmart anyone including the universe they are suppose to serve. It is not surprising therefore to find this development because we obliviously allowed this to happen through the filtration effect of exams.
This should explain the fact that we have had a number of leaders elected to lead us who are considered the smartest. But what have they achieved during their incumbency. For a while, we discarded the standard and opted to elect an honest one. And look what honesty has done to our country—economy perked up, investors were exhilarated, suddenly the rule of law become brilliant, government service is truthful and national development moving in the right direction.
In India, as soon as a law student passes through legal education and graduates from the regime, he can practice the law profession already. In USA, getting through the difficult path of legal education in the portals of law schools is almost a passport in breezing through a simple routine exam to become law practitioners.
Not that we ought to lessen and make a mockery of a system that would churn out lightweights. Passing through the regime of our educational system is enough to prepare its students on the challenges of the times. Let us heighten the standards in all our educational institutions. The exams should be a validation of what the learners have undergone, of that which they have passed through, a review of the ideals they have nurtured and their readiness to confront challenges through sheer commitment.
As it were, exams or board or bar or whatever merely become an obstacle, a stiff hurdle to go through, a limitation formally installed, a hindrance to social mobility and a restriction to exercise principle. It is not a measurement of erudition or capability. It is merely a period of harsh initiation with no intention to inspire.
Better redraft government exams and transform it into a social movement.