Saturday, December 20, 2014

A big lesson for parents whose children go to school

Photo of my two school-going children

18th December is the annual Judgment Day for students throughout Bhutan. It’s a big day for both students and their parents because this is the day which all of us have been anxiously waiting for. It’s the day on which our children who go to school harvest the outcome of their year-long hard-work and struggle and it’s the day for parents to find out whether what they have invested in their children’s education for one year has borne any fruit. After all, it’s the day which decides the next move of our children. But if you are not cautious enough, a small typing error on the results sheet of your child, which the school authorities attribute to the computer, can mar the academic performances of your child.

On 18th December 2014, my wife had gone to get the result-papers of our children. When I got home from office that evening, I was shocked to hear that my daughter who studies in fifth grade has stood only 20th out of 44 students in her class. I wondered how that could be, because she was not so bad in her studies. She was quite upset about it but she had no ideas how her scores went so low. She had stood 9th during her mid-term exams and her class-teacher had acknowledged that she has been a good student. Luckily, I chose to re-check her ‘statement of marks’ with the help of my sister-in-law and found out that she had scored only 48% in Mathematics which is one of her most favourite subjects. I still remember that she had scored 92% in her annual exams when my wife had gone to check her individual papers last month. Her Mathematics score immediately urged me to investigate further. Together, I and my sister-in-law went through her marks sheet. Her Mathematics scores were as follows:

Continuous Assessment 1 (20 marks)Mid-term Exam (20 marks)Continuous Assessment 2 (20 marks)Annual exam (40 marks)Total

We immediately realized that her score under the “Annual Exam” column was 0, which should have been 36.8 out of 40 marks (92%). At first, we decided to let it be as it is because after all, she has passed, but I did not feel comfortable without clarifying it with her class-teacher. So, I rang her class-teacher and enquired why her mathematics score for the annual exam was 0, when she had scored 92%. The teacher immediately acknowledged that the error could have been made by the computer which was used to prepare the results because she had seen the same mistake committed earlier too. She informed that she would go the school the next day and cross-check the original marks sheet. She tried to comfort me by saying that it’s not a big problem, but for me and my daughter, or for that matter, those who could have failed due to such errors, it is a big problem. Then yesterday, she had called my sister-in-law and had informed her that it was a mistake made by the computer and that now her mathematics score is 85% which has pulled her rank to 9th, which is a huge difference.

What if we had not realized the error on time? This incident left me wondering how can such big errors be made by such professionals. I feel the concerned teachers should thoroughly cross-check what has been given out by the computer, not fully trusting their technological facilities. Because of this seemingly simple error, now the class-teacher has to re-work through the result-paper of all her students since it has affected the ranking positions in the class. I have begun to feel that some students, whose parents are not literate, could even fail due to such errors. My daughter was lucky this time.

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