Introduction of Semester System in Indian Colleges
Introduction and purpose of the semester system
Educational system all over the world has never been consistent over the year. Through advancement and exposure to new concepts, educationists investigate possibilities to teach texts in various feasible manners. According to Myron Tribus (1994), there are innumerable proposals/suggestions for reforms and changes in educational system and there are infinite number of good ideas and research results. The target is not just to pick one of them but rather it is to have comprehensive attitude and approach within which to bring to action many good works known to us. Introduction of semester system can be said to be the product of these investigations. A semester system is an academic term. It is division of an academic year, the time during which a college holds classes. It also might be applicable in the schools and universities. Usually, a semester system divides the year in two parts or terms. Sometimes, it might be trimester or quarter semester. Literally, semester means six-month period. In India this six-month system is generally followed. In schools we find the year divided in between two (often three) major examinations in and around the vacations. The central universities in India have been long following this from quite sometime. At present, the under graduate colleges in Assam too have been familiarized with the semester system. We find that most nations of the world today are constantly switching onto the semester system. It is estimated that the famous global economies of the world are the USA, China and India. In the world of competitions, one of the areas of the big fights is education. We find that China is almost replacing USA in this area too apart from fighting hand in hand in occupying the global markets. In fact, trying to occupy the highest position in the world of education is actually occupying the largest share of intellectual position in the global education ladder. In People's Republic of China, all schools including elementary, middle and high schools, colleges and universities have two semesters. To remain in the same fight of the one world and win, the rules should be the same. Following the footsteps of China, and other important nations, India without losing anymore time wants to fall in the same system. And it is doing so. As part of the nation, Assam too has introduced the semester-system in the colleges along with other states of the nation.
1. History and reaction
Some of the aspects to be considered in the adoption of semester system are that the government’s concern with privatization of education system. Privatization of education means that education has been passed on to the private sector and that also means that private sector has a greater say in setting their own fees which can be exorbitantly high although the quality of education provided might not even be half as good. While at one level, privatization of education seems to be a good option given the way the government has abjectly failed to maintain decent standards of education and to add to the poor infrastructure provided by the govt. But, privatization is not really a solution to the problem that continues to plague India even 64 yrs after independence that is poor educational standards in the country. The biggest of the challenges with these private institutions is that there is no guarantee of the quality of teaching and more so teachers teaching in these institutions. The other problem with private institutions is that they extract exorbitant amount of money for very short periods of coaching. We have tried privatization of education earlier also without too much success or to put it in a simple way there was a lack of change in the education system even then. So, all said and done, there has to be some serious thinking on the matter of providing quality education in a decent manner and at a decent rate.
The semester system has been introduced on the undergraduate curriculum in affiliated colleges in the university with effect from 2009 admission onwards. The academic world in Assam reacted slightly stunningly with the introduction of semester system. Teachers, students and guardians who were used to the practice and idea of the annual system were slightly hesitant in its implementation. However, it can be said to be the continuation of the past days spent in schools. In the schools, the students and teachers are used to work and study almost the whole year with two or three major breaks as vacations in the bi-yearly or tri-yearly examinations. The introduction of this semester system can be evaluated as part of the consistency of the school years.
2. Annual system verses semester system
Comparison between semester and annual systems is very often done. Both the systems have its merits and demerits. Annual system is the traditional system. Annual system covers more syllabuses at a stretch and compels the student to remember all this till the end of the year. Sometimes, two or more topics will be included in the same paper (very often, a paper will have to be set by two examiners under such situations), when specializations are there. Otherwise, certain topics will be omitted and the syllabus diluted. Since at the end of the year only the public examinations are conducted, University gets enough time to prepare question papers and value answer papers. Number of examiners and examinations also can be reduced, which become more economical for Universities. Results can be announced in time and the schedule can be kept.
In semester system, the students get more advantage; since examinations are held within months (what is studied will remain afresh in their brain). The syllabus load also will be less. Different topics need not be combined in the same paper. Students get more chances to improve also. Since examinations come within a few months student unrest also will be less in a semester system. There were many challenges to be faced by the under graduate colleges in preparing the students for the semester system. The semester system is a very proactive system as it engages both the faculty and the students throughout the year in academic activity. While, in the annual system once the student enters the college he feels free and thinks about studying only during the exam time. Semester system not only involves students more throughout the year but also reduces examination burden. The semester system is the need of hour and a very effective one.
3. Importance and objective of the semester system
Some of the objectives of the semester system are many-
1. To broaden the outlook of the students and instill in them a sense of confidence and responsibility.
2. The student gets more chances to remain well versed.
3. Unit tests act as model tests for the final examination.
4. A detailed account of the student’s progress graph can be produced in semester system.
5. To acquaint the students with different forms, styles and thoughts in other parts of the country and beyond.
6. The semester system allows greater interaction with teachers and the students will be more focussed on preparing throughout the year.
7. It is also part of the current trend in education system in other parts of the country and beyond.
There are many merits of this semester system. They may be as follows,
1. It is good for the student community. As these students are the futures of society.
2. It creates awareness of the parallel streams prevalent in various parts of the country.
3. It keeps the students in touch with the books the whole year. It can prove beneficial for the students.
4. The compulsion of tests in between has made the students presence in the colleges all throughout the year. In present world there are too many distractions available for the youth to go astray. Engagement in tests and examinations in the colleges can keep them busy in more fruitful works, which will be personally beneficial for them too.
5. The students will be constantly evaluated and the depth and breadth of their knowledge will improve.
6. It allows greater interaction with teachers and the children will be more focused on preparing throughout the year.
7. This will give the students to cooperate in the future with the universities, most of who run in the semester system. There shall follow continuity in the imparting of the education and examination system with the introduction of the semester system.
8. For some students, it will be better as there will be fewer courses as compared to annual.
9. The semester system allows the students no luxury of studying at the last moment and still getting good marks in the final exams. So one has to be on his toes throughout and cannot bunk classes or afford to take your studies lightly. This is certainly a good point of the semester system and it will keep everyone working all through their college life seriously rather that turning to just last minute studies which many students resort to because of the structure of the current evaluation system.
10. The other plus point of the semester system is that it means that the student gets tested on very small sections at a time, so when he gives the final exams where the whole curriculum is assessed, one is in a position to write an even better exam than with the current system as this means he is already aware of the problem areas and by the time of the final exams, you will have a chance of improving your percentage in the final assessment.
11. When students go to undergraduate colleges after school, they are compelled to revert back to annual system. Introduction of semester system now will no more shock the students about the system.