Trusting Students: This School’s Unique Exam Moment Could Be the Future of Education

The students were sent the question paper via e-mail at 9 a.m. They were given 15 minutes of reading time, after which, they were to start writing until 11.45 a.m.

Students of classes 9 and 10 of Vidya Niketan, a school in Bengaluru, were scheduled to appear for an examination on January 8, 2019.

Owing to the Bharat Bandh on the same day, the school was in a fix as to how to stick to the schedule.

The novel idea that this school management and the principal came up with is truly a lesson in trust, not just for other schools but also organisations.

In conversation with The Better India, Mrs Anita Manoj, Headmistress of the school, tells us about it.

“We did not want the examination schedule to be disrupted and at the same time, could not have the children come to school. When this idea was mooted by Mrs Hansa Vithani, founder-director of the school, it was met with some trepidation from the teachers,” says Mrs Manoj.

She continues, “It would be wrong for me to say that it was an easy decision. We deliberated and argued about it for almost three hours, from noon until 3 p.m. Finally, we decided to go ahead with the plan.”

A circular was sent out to all parents detailing how the examination needed to be conducted at home.

How did it work?

The students were sent the question paper via e-mail at 9 a.m. They were given 15 minutes of reading time, after which, they were to start writing until 11.45 a.m.

Once they were done, they had to bring the answer sheets to school the next day and hand them over to their teachers before 8 a.m.

Reactions from students

Mrs Vithani recounts receiving a call from one of the students who wanted to verify whether this was something that the school was doing or if it was a prank that a classmate was playing.

She shares, “I told my student that if in so many years of their being with us, if we had been unable to instil good values in them, then the entire purpose of the school and the education would have failed.”

“I reiterated to the student that we had immense trust in them.”

The school management.
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The first thought that crossed our mind was that they might cheat, reveals Mrs Manoj.

“With the easy access to the internet, it was a concern that we all felt. However, we also realised that education goes way beyond some numbers on a mark sheet,” she says.

Feedback from students and parents

“The feedback has truly been overwhelming. Initially, students were in disbelief. The trust we had placed in them was what they were most shocked about,” she says.

Having taught the students throughout the academic year, the teachers have a fair idea about the level of each student and what she brings to the table; so while evaluating the papers, they know who had resorted to looking up the answers and who was sincere.

Mrs Manoj states, “We will not be going into who was sincere and who was not. That was not the objective of this experiment. We wanted to give our students the ability to make a decision, and I am glad that they have.”

The parents have been equally amazed and excited at this experiment and have been equally supportive, notes Mrs Manoj.

She concludes, “These scores will remain a small number on a certificate, however, what our students will take away from this unique experiment is a lesson for life.”

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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